Green Bumps and Green Lit: A Discussion.

Nothing annoys me more than a disclaimer. I think it distorts the notion that we are allowed to speak and express ourselves freely. But I have to put one here of this just to say that I am a huge fan of John Green and that I love his books and the community he has created that surrounds them. This is by no means an attack on him.

Two phrases that I have seen thrown around the blogosphere and the twiterverse lately are “Greenlit” and “Green Bump”. I promptly looked them up, and to be perfectly honest, I was a little bit horrified. “Green Lit” is essentially books that are said to be similar to John Green’s novels. Essentially and normally young adult contemporaries. The “Green Bump” phenomena refers to John Green’s seal of approval given to a novel. Works such as Divergent and Eleanor & Park have both supposedly received an endorsement and a bump from John Green.

I have a lot to say on this matter. But I think it would be bet to condense it. So here goes nothing. All the happenings will be explained. But then I will give my thoughts on them after!

I first started noticing these phenomena around 6 months ago. There will be a timeline of articles below to see how and where I found them. It started with people saying that John Green was the reasons why novels such as Divergent and Eleanor and Park were successful. With enthusiastic reviews in the New York Times  and constant recommendations over at the Vlogbrothers channel. It is understandable that people will attribute the success of many mentioned novels to him.

A few months later, especially when the TFIOS filming was in full swing, I started to see his name everywhere. Every book I looked at was “for fans of John Green” and each edition promised to “find your next Augustus Waters“.  John Green was a huge name in the bookish and blogging community. This is and was a given, a well-earned given at that. But now he had found fame on the outside of this huge community. Unfortunately, with this, comes hate.

My opinions on this matter may forever biased because I am a huge fan of John Green.

There is no questioning whether John Green’s reviews and recommendations may have helped a little bit when it came to the sales of novels such as We Were Liars, Divergent and Eleanor and Park. However, to attribute all of the novels success to one author, is simply ludicrous. Not only do I find it ludicrous, but it is an insult to E. Lockhart, Veronica Roth and Rainbow Rowell. Let’s face it, as reviewers, as a reviewer my self, we can sing a novel’s praises as much as we like. However, in order for it to catch on, people have to like it. Essentially John Green can throw as many matches as he likes. In order for a novel to take the YA lover by storm, as did many of the books that have had a “Green Bump”, they need to be good. There is no denying that an initial buzz may have been created by him. But the test of time, they have stood. They still reign supreme because of the novel’s content,  their stories and journey’s.

Saying that John Green didn’t help maybe naive. Saying that a whole novel’s success was down to him is a god, damn, insult.

The concept of ” Green Lit” infuriates me. My thoughts on it are basically mirrored in a phrase Kelly Jensen said in a recent article “part of a trend”. It is simply a term, a reductive term at that, coined by people who thrive on the concept of the bandwagon and making money. It snaps the ankles of well written novels making sure they will never stand on their feet and belittles them to a trend. It may sell more copies of them in the short-term. But in the long-term the novel will be forgotten in the abyss of “book like John Green books”.

On a final note, I want to leave you with these two images:


To clarify, these are both on the same book. Two references to John Green and his novels. On the same book. Talk about bandwagon, jumping in on people’s fame, seizing the moment and piggy-backing on other people’s success.  Also, talk about pigeon-holing. Another piece of “Green Lit” and another part of a trend.


Young Adult Publishing and the John Green Effect.

Kelly Jensen on: The Reductive Approach to YA Revisited: Contemporary YA & Generosity to Readers

Malinda Lo’s take on it

“End John Green” and Other Fallacies

The NYT review of Eleanor and Park



9 thoughts on “Green Bumps and Green Lit: A Discussion.

  1. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction says:

    Unfortunately this is what happens when an author or a particular book really gets big – everything is compared to them. I totally agree that John Green did not make any book successful. But I will say that an endorsement by him probably has a huge affect on a lot of people. So I don’t see this sort of thing going away anytime soon. I do find it laughable that there’s actually a name for it, though! “Green bump” sounds like something contagious that you probably want to stay away from! 🙂

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction


    • Alex @ The Shelf Diaries says:

      I completely agree. An endorsement really does help, however I am not a fan of people who put a whole books success on him!

      I didn’t know there was a name for it either! I found it on the tumblr. It really does sound like something you need cream for! :’)

      Thanks for stopping by! xxx


  2. michelleandleslie says:

    the same thing happened at the height of the twilight series. every freakin’ paranormal YA is being likened to twilight or “for twilight fans.” sigh. i came across the atlantic article ellie shared and while i love tfios my reaction was just “YES!! thank you”


  3. Maria Pilar Albarran Ruiz says:

    The problem with Green Bump and Green Lit is that people in marketing and in the media love a bandwagon to jump into and don’t care about anything but the next big thing. I’m so very annoyed with seeing poor John Green everywhere as if he’d be the only one that writes YA or the one he created YA or the only YA worth reading is the one he writes… and he has nothing to do with that!! He’s an author with a level of fame and I’m sure he must be rolling his eyes and shaking his head at all the craziness surrounding him!

    I still haven’t read any of his books, mostly due to all the hype… but I have The Fault in Our Stars in the TBR pile.

    For some people all the hype is gonna work, I guess. But for others like me, it tends to put us off the author and the books and that’s a damned shame! John Green is surely a great author, but there’s soooo much to YA than just him! And once again, my beef is not with the author but the media!!


    • Alex @ The Shelf Diaries says:

      Some very good points my dear. John Green is getting so much hate for this and it is unfair.

      I think for many of us bloggers don’t go for the hype. I do sometimes but most of the tie I just get burnt!

      Thanks for stopping by lovely! You have some great points going on there! 🙂


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