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Both The Fault in Our Stars and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children are available at your local bookstore or online. TFiOS: Miss Peregrine:

Ransom's brilliant YouTube channel:
Also check out our friend Bruce's work on the radio:

In which John Green describes his years-long relationship with Ransom Riggs, author of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, which began with the James Joyce novel Ulysses and now includes the top two spots of the new York Times bestseller list.


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A Bunny
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John: Good morning, Hank, it's Tuesday. Today's video is about weird things that can happen.

So I went to Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. Kenyon is like Hogwarts, except with fewer Death Eaters and more corn. I was an undistinguished student, but I was smart enough to surround myself with very smart people like Bruce, with whom I would eventually spend a disastrous summer in Moose Pass, Alaska, and Mary Fran, who would later get married inside an elephant.

So Mary Fran and Bruce decided they wanted to read James Joyce's Ulysses together for an independent study and asked me if I would join them and since I liked the professor and also figured that a class about a single book couldn't be that hard, I agreed. We were joined by a precocious sophomore named Randy, who was taking this picture and needs to be photoshopped in, perfect! And then together we learned just how hard a class about a single book could be.

Hank, I spent more time on my final paper in that class than I did on anything else in college, except possibly trying to get girls to make out with me. And I remember everybody's paper: I wrote about nationalism, Mary Fran wrote about Molly Bloom, Bruce wrote about this potato that was inside Bloom's pocket for much of the book, and Randy wrote about religious deconstructionism, I don't know, it was very complicated.

We all became very close in that class, and it was the first time I ever felt academically grown-up, like, this was back in the days when I thought adulthood would basically consist of having a series of very interesting conversations about great books. It turns out that adulthood primarily consists of standing in line and being on hold, but, yeah. So I graduated from college, thinking I'd become an Episcopal minister, Mary Fran went off to law school, Randy went off to film school, and Bruce went off to become a musician.

After I decided not to go to divinity school, I got some writing jobs including one working for mental_floss, and then I was in a position where I had to hire a freelance writer, and I remembered that Randy was pretty good at, you know, explaining things simply, so I hired him, but he still wanted to make movies. I left mental_floss for the world of young adult novels, Bruce now reports for the NPR show, The World, and Mary Fran, having become a lawyer, heroically abandoned the law in favor of librarianship. God, I love librarians!

All the while, Randy and I stayed friends, and eventually, he started uploading his weird little documentaries to YouTube, where they became extremely popular, because they are amazing. And then one day, he told me was working on a novel based on thousands of found photographs he's collected. By then, Randy Riggs was going by his real name, Ransom Riggs, and he sent me his finished book, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, and I thought that it was weird and wonderful and quite unlike anything I had ever read.

But even so, Hank, I kept trying to lower his expectations, because a lot of books come out every week. By then, I had published four novels of my own, and a couple of them had made it to the New York Times Best-Seller List, but two of them had sold less than a hundred copies in their first weeks in print. I've seen great books get lost in crowded bookstores over and over again, and I kept telling Ransom, "It's a marathon, not a sprint. Your first novel isn't your last novel, blah blah blah--" It was an instant bestseller.

A few months later, The Fault in Our Stars came out, and next week, amazingly, our books will be #1 and #2 on the New York Times Best Seller List. So, Hank, that's nice and funny and weird, but it's not the real story. Professional lives, which take turns you can never imagine, from lawyer to librarian, or from minister to vlogger, are important.

But it's not what life is about. Human life is really about relationships and communities. When I think of my friendship with Randy, I don't think of this, although it's cool. I think of us driving to the Grand Canyon with our friend Kathy. I think of driving through the snow in Ohio and the endlessness of Texas and watching the sunrise creep up the walls of the Grand Canyon.

Teenage John: Are you taking pictures of me, dude?

John: And then I think of us, twelve years later, walking around Los Angeles together, still taking pictures... What a blessing.

Hank, I'll see you on Friday.