How and Why We Read: Crash Course English Literature #1

  • Published on Nov 15, 2012
  • In which John Green kicks off the Crash Course Literature mini series with a reasonable set of questions. Why do we read? What's the point of reading critically. John will argue that reading is about effectively communicating with other people. Unlike a direct communication though, the writer has to communicate with a stranger, through time and space, with only "dry dead words on a page." So how's that going to work? Find out with Crash Course Literature! Also, readers are empowered during the open letter, so that's pretty cool.
    The Reading List!
    Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare:
    The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald:
    Catcher in the Rye:
    Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson:
    Some of these are available from as free ebooks. You should check that out.
    Follow us!
    Support CrashCourse on Patreon:

Comments • 6 881

  • Creation717
    Creation717 Day ago

    Also, I appreciate the Doctor Who chalk board drawing

  • Creation717
    Creation717 Day ago

    FAULKNER BENEATH THE STARS 😂😂😂😂btw, I’m watching all these videos years later because I needed a dose of John Green because he’s amazing!

  • Tharindu Weerasinghe
    Tharindu Weerasinghe 11 days ago

    The links on the book list no longer works. Please update them if possible

  • Sam C
    Sam C 12 days ago

    Was this secretly a break up video?? Nice try John

  • Sparkle Diamond
    Sparkle Diamond 15 days ago

    Am I the only one who broke down his barriers: Parcels en francais = speak in French, Incorrect order use word = use incorrect word order, eakspay inyay inpay atinlay = speak in pig latin

    Nope just me okay

  • krishna Thapa
    krishna Thapa 25 days ago +1

    Dude are you thirsty? Drink

  • DrinkTeaReadBooksBeHappy

    Oh my, is that gallifreyan on that blackboard in the opening shot!? :O

  • Matthew Price
    Matthew Price 27 days ago

    i'd love a series on contenporary literature that you are passonate about or inspired you. just so i can keep an eye out for modern authers i need to check out

  • Snuggles McSquishbottom

    Damn, cocaine really is one hell of a drug.

  • Crystal Bennett
    Crystal Bennett Month ago

    Dearest John Greene, Please please please can you do a crash course video on Joseph Conrads' 'Heart of Darkness'? Sincerely, migraine strained college student

  • Dave Gent
    Dave Gent Month ago

    I love this series but that Faulkner joke makes it so I can't show it to my middle schoolers!

  • Edith
    Edith Month ago

    'Give yourself some power in that conversation, reader, go out there and make a world! Best Wishes, John Green.'
    Cue the Birth of Fan-fiction.

  • Super nova
    Super nova Month ago +1


  • Mart
    Mart Month ago

    please do othello i beg

  • Hani Koptan
    Hani Koptan Month ago

    the shade thrown at his ex girlfriend tho XD

  • 香港上門外籍英文老師400-600/小時

    English literature sharing by master degree holder in English literature for free add wechat+85295121363

  • Vada Price
    Vada Price Month ago

    Could you do a Paradise Lost video please?

  • Nourhan Esmael
    Nourhan Esmael Month ago

    Oh my God you're so fast

  • Alec Jkul
    Alec Jkul Month ago

    Why is this man shouting at me?

  • Bart Tare
    Bart Tare Month ago

    I have to completely disagree with you the "authorial intent is irrelevant" argument. I believe authorial intent is extremely relevant, at least for my understanding of anything written, especially non-fiction. How are we to understand any written word without at least some understanding of a writer's "psychological baggage?" I think Green is being disingenuous when he makes this "authorial intent is unimportant" argument, as I am certain authorial intent is often an important factor in how he interprets his own reading materials.

  • Bart Tare
    Bart Tare Month ago

    Reading allows us to hear the life narratives (often artfully told in "fiction") that human beings leave behind after they die. Also often, these life narratives are limited by the cultural, familial, and biological constraints of any given time. Nevertheless, such narratives are important to us as they give us some connection to and understanding of the era in which they are written.

  • Radu Turcan
    Radu Turcan 2 months ago

    Thanks for the great job, but the links are not working anymore...

  • Yeskendir Kuspanov
    Yeskendir Kuspanov 2 months ago

    he has changed a lot

  • sarah barboze
    sarah barboze 2 months ago

    you'll should definately make one on agatha Christie

  • David Njihia
    David Njihia 2 months ago

    I wish I can meet John and Hank some day. Very good authors that inspire me as a sixteen-year-old in writing.

  • Samanvay Kumar
    Samanvay Kumar 2 months ago

    3:23 When did Rahul Gandhi start teaching literature

  • motcen othman
    motcen othman 2 months ago

    Oooooh dear god, I love crash course, these guys know it all.

  • Jean-Hasagi
    Jean-Hasagi 2 months ago +2

    Gros fdp j’ai raté mon exam

    • Jean-Hasagi
      Jean-Hasagi 2 months ago

      Jean -fdp mange tes morts fdp

    • Jean-Hasagi
      Jean-Hasagi 2 months ago

      Hugo Efnif tg zebi

    • Jean-Hasagi
      Jean-Hasagi 2 months ago

      Jean -fdp thanks zeubi

    • Jean -fdp
      Jean -fdp 2 months ago

      Jean-Hasagi ofc handsome guy so it’s 06994234

    • Hugo Efnif
      Hugo Efnif 2 months ago

      +Jean-Hasagi look at his «photo de couverture » , he is so hot

  • Jinimol Prasanth
    Jinimol Prasanth 2 months ago

    I suppose all the subscribers are because of him

  • EightTimesInsanity
    EightTimesInsanity 2 months ago

    "Read Romeo and Juliet, it's good, although at times derivative of West Side Story"... I spat out my drink!
    On that note, I am doing my degree in English Literature and can't believe I've only just found these.

  • Yusur Kassem
    Yusur Kassem 2 months ago

    ughh romeo and juliet...that book....i HATE it

  • Sena Moses Satria
    Sena Moses Satria 2 months ago

    i feel intimidated

  • Stéphane Chaussin
    Stéphane Chaussin 3 months ago +1

    One of the (many) things I love about John Green is the fact that, no matter how excited and shaky he gets, his beautiful hair (this is a bald man's speaking!) stays perfectly still. Yes, I know that's completely irrelevant but what can I say, I miss my hair! Oh, and also, Crash Course is great! 😄

  • jonathan nicolas
    jonathan nicolas 3 months ago

    this is trash, guy just speaks fast and bunch of gibberish not much value in this like Kardashian presenting a topic

    • Arnold Knight
      Arnold Knight 3 months ago

      Don't you know how to pause or replay a TVclip video?

  • jkuy
    jkuy 3 months ago

    *"... Or bad vampire fanfiction"*
    ... Cough, cough ...

    *Bad Twighlight joke*
    Jk, jk

  • Kyla Anderson
    Kyla Anderson 3 months ago

    Please do a Crash Course on Edgar Allen Poe (aka my favorite writer... along with Shakespeare, but that's not relevant.) I know everything about his life. But I can't find anything about what he was like as a person... other than depressed.

  • Jade Alice
    Jade Alice 3 months ago

    The Great Gatsby quote tho...

  • Erel Le Vance
    Erel Le Vance 3 months ago

    There you go...
    1. Have a fuller understanding of lives other than your own
    2. Helps you be more empathetic
    3. Reading critically and attentively can give you the linguistic tools to share your own story with more precision

  • Erel Le Vance
    Erel Le Vance 3 months ago

    Am I the only one who thinks John Green is a faster talker than Eminem rapping...

  • eradicatedsoul
    eradicatedsoul 3 months ago

    Be my teacher, John 😭

    BS THINGS 3 months ago

    i do matter, and you are rude :(

  • That Moment
    That Moment 3 months ago

    fake, the chair disapeard

  • StarManAevum
    StarManAevum 3 months ago

    The worst thing about having an undergrad in English is having to explain the use of it in a manner that appeals to capitalism.

  • W.C. Baggett
    W.C. Baggett 3 months ago

    I love ya man, but simmer down. Too fast. Slow your roll.

  • Biell Morning Star
    Biell Morning Star 3 months ago

    I like paper towns

  • Hani Qamaliah
    Hani Qamaliah 3 months ago +1

    I now regret studying engineering instead of pursuing literature

  • Holly M.
    Holly M. 3 months ago

    I love you John Green!!!!!

  • kys capio
    kys capio 3 months ago

    this isnt fortnite

  • Alena Kirillova
    Alena Kirillova 4 months ago

    ooooh, he is so excited^

  • EverythingIC
    EverythingIC 4 months ago

    1:10 Cleary John Green was also Danny Fenton's principle

    FINDY EM 4 months ago

    Whovian's HEY TO YOU, MR GREEN..

  • Joseph Watson
    Joseph Watson 4 months ago

    In the video, "How and Why We Read," John Green discusses why we read critically.
    List two reasons why he suggests we should read critically.

  • Phantom Black
    Phantom Black 4 months ago

    I love the Gallifreyan though

  • Do not disturb the sound of silence

    Jesus man, take it easy...
    I can t watch you for a long time because you make me nervous.

  • Oma Rumunna
    Oma Rumunna 4 months ago

    10th time watching this.

  • hippiehoni
    hippiehoni 4 months ago

    So are there any fine nerds out there who can translate the Gallifreyan on the board?

  • ahmed eissa
    ahmed eissa 4 months ago

    scarlet letter maybe

  • Capple
    Capple 4 months ago

    Is anyone watching this for the green brothers only? Just me?

  • Ailema Gonzalez
    Ailema Gonzalez 4 months ago

    i enjoy talking but its been boring silence

  • Jamie Bertram
    Jamie Bertram 4 months ago

    Is there a better way to learn about literature than having John Green shout it at you?

  • Jamie Bertram
    Jamie Bertram 4 months ago

    Is there a better way to learn about literature than having John Green shout it at you?

  • Tanya Jordening
    Tanya Jordening 4 months ago

    John Green is incredible. Your videos always crack me up and teach me at the same time. Keep up the GREAT work!

  • aishwarya kangutkar
    aishwarya kangutkar 4 months ago

    I like how he said bad vampire fiction and we all understood what he was talking about.

  • VeeTheFangirl
    VeeTheFangirl 4 months ago

    The links for the Reading List direct me to a website that offers Social Media Packages; followers, likes, subs, etc. I just want the material for the course..

  • BookLover
    BookLover 5 months ago

    When I clicked this link in my college course assignments, I was not expecting John Green to pop up. Finally, a teacher who understands that watching videos with monotone voices and deadpan faces is not good for learning anything except for how to fall asleep in 2 minutes or less.

    CEG GHD 5 months ago

    Is this the same person that did philosophy course ?

  • RaritySpiritAnimal
    RaritySpiritAnimal 5 months ago

    What the Fitzgerald did you just say to me you little piece of Shakespeare???? You little Dickens?????????

  • Sarwat Sharif
    Sarwat Sharif 5 months ago

    Can you please develop a crash course on great expectations by Charles Dickens? It will help understand the plot better

    • Brian Hutzell
      Brian Hutzell 5 months ago

      A whole series on Dickens would be awesome!

  • cosimocub
    cosimocub 5 months ago

    what an annoying yank. i mean come on

  • Inspirations
    Inspirations 5 months ago

    wow...great teaching and inspiring talk!!

    • Ailema Gonzalez
      Ailema Gonzalez 4 months ago +1

      Inspirations color codes lite up yellow white and ☀

  • Spectrr
    Spectrr 5 months ago

    I hate reading

  • Nataleigha Huggett-DeVeny


  • Tones
    Tones 5 months ago

    Dislike because John green, and the fact that he doesn’t blink.

  • ApexCactus
    ApexCactus 6 months ago

    Hey! Shakespeare is the main course meal, and bad Vampire fiction is dessert, there's no shame in that xD

  • Thomas Burnett
    Thomas Burnett 6 months ago

    J’aime parler français aussi et I-ay ike-lay o-tay eak-spay ig-pay atin-lay wrong in order

  • spideken
    spideken 6 months ago

    my niece cry watching your videos..

  • spideken
    spideken 6 months ago +1

    your funny but your scary too.. now, I'm afraid if I read books I end up like you.. so therefore I stop reading :D ..

  • Puppy Pu
    Puppy Pu 6 months ago

    Would you do Wide Sargasso Sea please???

  • Mikhail Braude
    Mikhail Braude 6 months ago

    Reading List links got hijacked!

    • Marija Matic
      Marija Matic 6 months ago

      Have you found a solution? I can not open them.

  • Paul Andre Uy
    Paul Andre Uy 6 months ago

    “It's just that I learned a while ago that the best way to get people to like you is not to like them too much.”
    ― John Green, An Abundance of Katherines

  • Anselma Reich
    Anselma Reich 6 months ago

    Bad vampire fiction ... I see what you did there.

  • Danielle Detera
    Danielle Detera 6 months ago

    In a reading slump before. No longer after this video.

  • alyssa dela cruz
    alyssa dela cruz 6 months ago

    John Green is the adult version of Jimmy Neutron

  • Ned O'Brien
    Ned O'Brien 6 months ago

    what did the gallifrain say?

  • M. Stites
    M. Stites 6 months ago

    When he said and vampire fiction I immediately thought of Twilight

  • Aditya Kumar
    Aditya Kumar 6 months ago

    Could you please give a detailed explanation of the process of critical reading?
    What questions do I pose to the prose to get a deeper understanding of it ?
    I often find me disappointed with myself if I could not find the symbols that the people discuss and most of the time my interpretations are never popoularly accepted . How do I read in the right way ?😅

  • Ronja
    Ronja 7 months ago

    bad vampire fiction 😂😂

  • Laiba Khan
    Laiba Khan 7 months ago

    Though I'm no longer in highschool learning about English Literature nor I'm studying it in college. I would love to learn more about literature. The thing is my grammar is appalling for a 17 year old like me.

  • Maureen Seel
    Maureen Seel 7 months ago

    Hahaha! Gallifreyan in the background. That's great.

  • Thao Tran Nguyen Ngoc
    Thao Tran Nguyen Ngoc 7 months ago +1

    guys, i have something i don't in the video. What does John mean when he said: 'get these book to roll in'? What's a roll in? Thanks a lot

    • Thao Tran Nguyen Ngoc
      Thao Tran Nguyen Ngoc 5 months ago

      know i'm a little bit too late but thank you

    • Tati P
      Tati P 6 months ago

      Thao Tran Nguyen Ngoc in other crash course videos, the stuff surrounding John's desk appears by rolling in at the beginning of the video. Similar to how John himself rolls in sitting on his chair.

  • Alexandra Gomez
    Alexandra Gomez 7 months ago

    Make a video about poems and how to understand them, please?

  • Jicky yy
    Jicky yy 7 months ago

    Cant believe some so many people watched a video about reading.

  • Joseph Babu
    Joseph Babu 7 months ago

    did he just transition from an open letter to authorial intent to an open letter to the reader?

  • ella n
    ella n 7 months ago

    It would be great if the CrashCourse team would make a course about art.

  • Mr Temporal
    Mr Temporal 7 months ago

    Here's another reason to read:
    You (can) have fun doing it

  • Phoenix Olivia
    Phoenix Olivia 7 months ago

    This is amazing! Would you considering doing some episodes on the Graphic Novel as literature? And perhaps do some critiques on a few like Watchmen, Sandman, Dark Knight Returns, Saga, Lazarus. These books are full of depth and commentary on the human condition and drama and is definitely literature. Literature and film all wrapped into one :-)

  • Laila Alkassabi
    Laila Alkassabi 8 months ago +1

    Hello 😍😍 I lovvvve crash course I even wish that it’s a Netflix series that I can binge watch ahaha ,,, I can’t seem to access the books ? Is the website still valid and working ? Thanks for your help

  • Rob Wisdom
    Rob Wisdom 8 months ago

    So, now they finally have a back catalogs about their show.. Is it worth watching?

  • FriendsoftheGerund
    FriendsoftheGerund 8 months ago

    Are you kin to Giuseppi Verdi?

  • Geffen Tzaban
    Geffen Tzaban 8 months ago

    Nerdwriter reference?