Bestselling YA author and YouTube star John Green has brought two of his passions together in the launch of a new book club called Life’s Library, which he recently announced on… YouTube. Life’s Library is a joint project Green devised with his longtime friend and producing partner Rosianna Halse Rojas.
In his initial pitch last week, Green noted that Life’s Library would only see an official launch if enough readers signed up. He needn’t have worried, as his devoted fan base of Nerdfighters—the community of followers that rose up to support the Vlogbrothers YouTube channel created by John and brother Hank Green in 2007—stepped up in a big way. Two days after his announcement, Green confirmed via Twitter that Life’s Library would definitely move forward.
Plans are for Life’s Library book club members to read a book that has been selected alternately by Green or Rojas every six weeks and discuss it on a Discord channel (a freeware chat application), touted by Green as akin to a chat room, except “better in every way.” Right now, Life’s Library is slated to run for one year.
Readers can join in the fun in three different ways. Option one is a “physical subscription” which renews every six weeks for a cost of $25 and includes a paperback copy of the book and specially selected perks and swag: bookplates designed by artists, lapel pins, a letter from Green or Rojas about their book selection, and digital content like a reading guide and podcast discussion of the book with Green and Rojas.
A digital subscription will cost $10 every six weeks and contain all the digital perks—podcast discussion, reading guide, other downloadable extras—except for the book itself. This plan is designed for those who want to purchase the book separately on their own or check it out from the library.
And a third, totally free-of-charge way to participate is to check out the book from the library and join in the Discord discussion.
Interested readers have until November 16 to subscribe via DFTBA.com where all the various subscriptions are detailed. According to Green, 100% of the profits from Life’s Library will go to Partners in Health, the Boston-based nonprofit whose mission is to help families in poverty around the world access healthcare. The Greens have long supported this cause through their Project for Awesome fundraisers.
Green notes that book selections will span a wide range of genres—“YA novels to mysteries to memoirs. We want to read broadly and celebrate lots of different kinds of books”—and the only real rule for making a pick is that the book must be at least a year old. According to discussion on the Life’s Library twitter page, only two of the nine book selections for the first year’s run are YA titles. The remainder consists of general fiction and nonfiction.
In his video announcement of the Life’s Library idea, Green noted a couple of different inspirations for the venture, saying that he’s recently been reminded of “how fun it can be to read a book with people. Reading is usually a solitary and private experience. But when you’re done with a book it can be so fulfilling to talk about it with people.” Another spark for starting the club stems from Green’s desire to feel more of a connection to people via the internet in a positive way. He said he’s been missing “the experience of a slightly less open, more community-oriented internet where we do and make stuff together. Not to be overly dramatic, but lately a lot of my time online feels like I’m, you know, shouting my despair into an infinite void.”
With enrollment underway, Green has announced that the first book selection for the Life’s Library club is If You Come Softly (Penguin/Paulsen, 1998) by Jacqueline Woodson, which explores the relationship between a black teenage boy from Brooklyn and a white Jewish girl who fall for each other at the prep school they both attend in Manhattan. Life’s Library physical subscriptions will ship in early December and the reading/discussion period for the book officially begins December 24, lasting for six weeks. And for those who want to talk up the club before then, Life’s Library has its own Twitter (@lifes_library) and Instagram (lifeslibrarybookclub).