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


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.

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  1. Dear, Crash Course
    I had to watch this video about three or four times because in matter of fact this is the fastest crash course I've seen yet to fully understand the concept this video portrayed. Teachers when you show this video to your students please make sure to stop every once and awhile to talk about what just happened because its a lot of information for our tiny minds to comprehend not to call students stupid but still.
    best wishes, A student from JMMA

  2. i dont understand, yet, how we read. Like he explaines why reading is important for life and for us, but not how we read…

  3. The goal of reading anything is to arrive at the meaning of the text that the author intended his or her readers to understand. I find John Green's assertion that the author's intent means next to nothing laughable.

  4. Wasn't the letter addressed to the author? So in his open letter did he switch from addressing the author to addressing the audience?

  5. I can get on board with the argument that authorial intent does not matter in relation to works of fiction, but what about textbooks? The entire point of textbooks is to teach something so without authorial intent textbooks have no purpose. Also, I feel that authorial intent matters very much when it comes to interpreting things like letters, or biblical text. Lastly, if authorial intent does not matter then why do English teachers still grade students? If there is no wrong way to talk about a book then bad grades should not be possible.

  6. Hi Sir Green! Thank you for all of the videos and all of the life-like explanations. I just want to ask how to access the "reading list"?. Mwa

  7. A very interesting and useful course, but I think it should be explained more slowly, to let us understand better what he's saying. Thanks!


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