May 6, 2014 at 8:35 AM ET
The fourth TODAY Book Club pick is "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green. Share your thoughts about Green's beloved young adult novel by joining the TODAY Book Club community, a fresh and interactive discussion series, and tweeting with #TFiOSTODAY.
TODAY Book Club members will have the unique opportunity to participate in a Google+ Hangout live from the premiere of the film adaptation of the book. RSVP to the Google+ Hangout with Willie Geist, John Green and the cast of "The Fault in Our Stars" on Monday, June 2, at 6 p.m. ET. Be sure to follow @TODAYsBooks and stay up to date with the TODAY Book Club newsletter.
It has the ingredients of many a page-turner: with teen love and tragedy, John Green’s novel “The Fault in Our Stars” has sold seven million copies and is set to make its film debut in June, starring new Hollywood darling Shailene Woodley. And to top it all off, the novel is the latest read for TODAY’s Book Club.
“The Fault in Our Stars” tells the story of 16-year-old Hazel Lancaster, a teen with incurable cancer who meets and falls in love with another patient. The tale was inspired by some of Green’s experiences working at a children’s hospital as a student chaplain.
“I was only 21. It was very difficult. I saw a lot of kids die,” Green told Willie Geist at his office in Indianapolis. “I spent time … with their parents. It was really difficult for me to be hopeful in that. It kept coming back to me. I kept wanting to write about it.”
Green finally did write about it after meeting Esther Earl, a 15-year-old fan battling cancer. She died a year later.
“Once I understood that a short life can also be a good life, it kind of became possible to write the story,” Green said.
This is the fifth novel for Green, 35, who is no stranger to tackling teen romance in the face of adversity. In addition to “The Fault in Our Stars,” his books “Looking for Alaska,” “Paper Towns” and “Will Grayson, Will Grayson” all debuted on the New York Times best-seller list.
And despite legions of screaming fans who follow him to book signings (Green “humble brags” he’s signed his name 150,000 times), the author says he’s still starstruck when it comes to the new film.
“At no point did I have a poker face,” he said about being on set. “The director would be debating, ‘Was this take better than this take?’ And I would just be, like, ‘Guys, let's calm down for a second and think about how awesome this is. Shailene Woodley is in our movie. This is awesome!”
It’s indeed awesome, particularly for a guy who considers himself a nerd and spreads the message that being a nerd is cool. Green connects with his young fans, dubbed “Nerdfighters,” via four video series, including one called the “Vlog Brothers,” in which he and his brother Hank cover everything from foreign affairs to goat mating.
“I want to celebrate intellectualism,” he said. “We only get to be here on this planet for a little while, and we have the chance to pay attention or we can choose to be distracted. And when we pay attention is when I think we're really fulfilled and happy and excited.”