By Isabella Biedenharn
August 24, 2017 at 09:00 AM EDT
Richard Drew/AP

On Aug. 24, John Green — author of such modern YA classics as The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns, and Looking for Alaska — turns 40. And while we could spend this time marveling at all Green has accomplished before that milestone age, we’ve instead rounded up some of his best (and geekiest) quotes. Culled from interviews, books, and videos, here are 40 of our favorite Green gems. And we can’t wait to read more wise words in his forthcoming novelTurtles All The Way Downout Oct. 10.

Happy birthday, John Green!

  1. “The only thing I do is I change my keyboard between every book. I usually shop around. I’m very passionate about the physical feel of pressing the keys. It’s got to have the right springiness. I tend to find the built-in keys very unsatisfying, the keys are low-profile and don’t really do anything — I want it to feel like I’m typing.” — Interview with Goodreads
  2. “My thoughts are stars I can’t fathom into constellations.” — The Fault in Our Stars
  3. “That’s always seemed so ridiculous to me, that people want to be around someone because they’re pretty. It’s like picking your breakfast cereals based on color instead of taste.” — Paper Towns
  4. “Well, I mean, I’m aware of the fact that I live in 2013 and that the book is set in 2012, you know. But, you know, to be honest with you, I don’t know if this is going to sound unreasonably pretentious, but I expect readers to know what a hamartia is, and I expect them to know what Zeno’s paradox is.” — Interview with The Atlantic
  5. “I actually try to break my superstitions whenever possible, because it’s irrational. For a long time I believed, when I first started writing, that I couldn’t write well if I wasn’t smoking cigarettes — which is a very dangerous thing to believe, of course! As it turns out, the exact opposite was true. I couldn’t write well if I did smoke cigarettes. Looking for Alaska didn’t get any good until I quit smoking.”
  6. “Here’s my answer to the very real existential crisis that grips me midway through everything I’ve ever tried to do: I think stories help us fight the nihilistic urges that constantly threaten to consume us.” —NaNoWriMo Pep Talk
  7. “With Paper Towns I wanted to write a novel about the challenge of being stuck inside your own consciousness and not being able to live inside anyone else’s mind and how difficult that is.” — Interview with Time Out Dubai
  8. “The great thing about the Harry Potter fan community is that no one judges you. Being a nerd isn’t seen as a character defect.” — Excerpt from the introduction to This Star Won’t Go Out
  9. “The whole process of commodifying personhood to sell movie tickets is inherently dehumanizing. The TV people want some part of you, and in exchange for it, they will put the name of your movie on TV. But in that process, you do lose something of your self.” — Medium post
  10. “From a gender studies perspective, [Fifty Shades of Grey is] a worrisome novel.”
  • Staying up past my usual bedtime of 9:15 PM to watch the premiere of @harto‘s new TV show on @FoodNetwork! Congrats, Hannah!!!

    — John Green (@johngreen) August 15, 2017

  • (I sometimes draw spirals beneath my signature as I’m signing tip-in sheets for Turtles All the Way Down. Hence the hundreds of spirals!)

    — John Green (@johngreen) August 2, 2017

  • “There’s so much to say and it’s so hard to say all of it well.” — Hankgames YouTube
  • When I follow @sharpie and twitter suggests I follow P*per M*te… You don’t get it, twitter. I’m not into pens. I’m into HIGH QUALITY PENS.

    — John Green (@johngreen) July 11, 2017

  • “Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” —The Fault in Our Stars
  • Twitter Troll is such a weird job. Like, it must be stressful to be so hateful all the time, and also there’s no money in it.

    — John Green (@johngreen) January 27, 2017

  • The Fault in Our Stars came out five years ago today, which has me feeling all emotional.

    — John Green (@johngreen) January 10, 2017

  • When I’m stressed, I make careless errors, so everything takes longer, which increases stress. This has been happening since 3rd grade.

    — John Green (@johngreen) December 20, 2016

  • I was so good at being a second grader. It was the last real moment of mastery in my life.

    — John Green (@johngreen) December 20, 2016

  • “The real work of writing is in all the millions of small ideas and where they come from and how you use them when they appear.” — Video
  • “Oh s–t did you just dis the feminine gender/I’ll pummel your ass then stick you in a blender/You think I like Tori and Ani so I can’t rhyme/But I got flow like Ghostbusters got slime/Objectify women and it’s f–kin’ on/You’ll be dead and gone like ancient Babylon.” —Looking For Alaska
  • “I continue to resent not having a good toaster oven.” — Video
  • “Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they’ll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back.”
    —An Abundance of Katherines
  • “I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.” —The Fault in Our Stars
  • “I know there are still people in the world who think everyone born with a penis is a dude and everyone born with a vagina is a woman, but in fact, sex and gender are both way more complicated than that, and anyone who tells you otherwise is not being honest.” — Green’s Tumblr
  • “There are lots of problems with capitalism … Capitalism rewards people who were born rich in precisely the same irrational way that monarchy rewarded people who were born noble.” — Green’s Tumblr
  • “Saying ‘I notice you’re a nerd’ is like saying, ‘Hey, I notice that you’d rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you’d rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Lindsay Lohan. Why is that?’ In fact, it seems to me that most contemporary insults are pretty lame. Even ‘lame’ is kind of lame. Saying ‘You’re lame’ is like saying ‘You walk with a limp.’ Yeah, whatever, so does 50 Cent, and he’s done all right for himself.”
  • “We tend to imagine creative enterprises as singular feats of genius … But even if you’re James Joyce or Beyoncé, your network of influence is vast and it stretches back further than human memory.”
  • “Will this be on the test? Yeah, about the test. The test will measure whether you are an informed, engaged, and productive citizen of the world, and it will take place in schools and bars and hospitals and dorm rooms and in places of worship. You will be tested on first dates, in job interviews, while watching football, and while scrolling through your Twitter feed. The test will judge your ability to think about things other than celebrity marriages, whether you’ll be easily persuaded by empty political rhetoric, and whether you’ll be able to place your life and your community in a broader context. The test will last your entire life, and it will be comprised of the millions of decisions, that when taken together, make your life yours. And everything — EVERYTHING — will be on it.”
  • “The Venn Diagram of boys who don’t like smart girls and boys you don’t want to date is a circle.” And other advice:

    — John Green (@johngreen) May 11, 2010

  • “’It’s not because I want to make out with her.’ ‘Hold on.’ He grabbed a pencil and scrawled excitedly at the paper as if he’d just made a mathematical breakthrough and then looked back up at me. ‘I just did some calculations, and I’ve been able to determine that you’re full of shit.’” —Looking for Alaska
  • “If you’re going to vandalize Wikipedia, you should at least do it with some reverence for the English language.” — Vlogbrothers video
  • “I like situations where the number of possibilities is finite enough that I can think about all of them and puzzle through how I’m going to feel about all of them in advance.” — Vlogbrothers video
  • “By the way, global warming skeptics, I have a message for you: Buy. Beachfront. Property. And then call me in 50 years.” — Vlogbrothers video
  • “Whenever people ask me [if there’s ‘the one’] … it seems to me like that question presupposes that love is an event, like love is this event that happens to you one day and the love virus arrives and forever after you are infected with it.” — Conversation with Rainn Wilson
  • “I just don’t find hell very interesting theologically.” — John Green’s Website
  • “Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. Hank, when people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness.’” — Vlogbrothers video
  • “Books are not in the business of creating merely likable characters with whom you can have some simple identification with. Books are in the business of crating [sic] great stories that make your brain go ahhbdgbdmerhbergurhbudgerbudbaaarr.” — Tumblr
  • “When did we see each other face-to-face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out.” —Paper Towns
  • “Recently it occurred to me — not to sound like a Comp Lit professor or anything — that Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography and Drake’s song ‘Started From the Bottom, Now We Here’ are really interesting and problematic to consider together. … Benjamin Franklin’s story is the American Dream of a rugged individual making his — or her, but usually his — way to the top via nothing but hard work … except that Benjamin Franklin didn’t start from the bottom. He was from a family of wealthy printers … and he was the right class and the right gender and the right race to become Benjamin Franklin.” — Vlogbrothers video
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