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Tour de What?!?

cover for The Fault in Our StarsSo, remember how the Vlogbrothers are kind of a big deal on the internet? Well, this year, in celebration of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, the brothers took their show on the road. In previous years, the brothers have held Tour de Nerdfighting, and the most recent tour was called, appropriately enough, Tour de Nerdfighting 2012. Yeah, yeah, you’re thinking, another YA author touring the country, reading from his book and then signing. Well … not quite.

The Tour de Nerdfighting started with a bit of John Green reading from The Fault in Our Stars. What made this tour different is everything that happened after John did the customary author talk. He answered questions about his book, but had to finish before a timer went off. If he went over time? He was forced to get a shock from a shock box kept ominously on stage.

John’s reading was followed by a set of songs by Hank; each song was met by enthusiastic cheers and dancing from the audience. If you’ve never seen a thousand teens wiggling and singing along to a song about subatomic particles, then, well, you haven’t quite lived.

The madcap nature of the event made it seem less like a book reading/concert and more a celebration of all things nerdy. The audience did the wave while holding up copies of TFiOS. Promises that The Yetti would make an appearance were dashed when Hank came out wearing a tutu and a performed “Never Gonna Give You Up” (yes, that’s right. An entire audience got real-life Hank Rolled). The boys asked each other questions submitted by the audience, with the brother speaking when the timer sounded getting shocked again. There was a sock puppet show. The programs contained a Nerdfighter-themed crossword puzzle.

Despite how awesome all those things are, everyone I’ve spoken to has told me that the most awesome part of being at the event wasn’t the performances or the readings or getting a signed book. It was the feeling that you weren’t just in a room full of hundreds of people who happened to like the same author as you–you were part of a community.

For more on the Tour de Nerdfighting, check out John’s reflective video. Or try searching on YouTube for Tour de Nerdfighting 2012 for lots of awesome vlogs from teens who definitely are not forgetting to be awesome.

In a time when book tours are often talked about as a thing of the past, and articles about the demise of reading seem to show up in newspapers every week, the Tour de Nerdfighting is proof that thousands of readers will happily make a trek to see their favorite authors, and that seeing an author in person is still an experience that has no exact equal.

— Ariel Cummins, currently reading Divergent by Veronica Roth

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Ariel Cummins

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