I struggled with how to pitch myself to Augustus Waters, which enthusiasms to embrace, and in the silence that followed it occurred to me that I wasn't very interesting. "I am pretty unextraordinary."
"I reject that out of hand. Think of something you like. The first thing that comes to mind."
"What do you read?"
"Everything. From, like, hideous romance to pretentious fiction to poetry. Whatever."
"Do you write poetry, too?"
"No. I don't write."
"There!" Augustus almost shouted. "Hazel Grace, you are the only teenager in America who prefers reading poetry to writing it. This tells me so much. You read a lot of capital-G great books, don't you?"
"What's your favourite?"
"Um," I said.
My favourite book, by a wide margin, was An Imperial Affliction, but I didn't like to tell people about it. Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with 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. And then there are books like An Imperial Affliction, which you can't tell people about, books so special and rare and yous that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal.
It wasn't even that the book was so good or anything; it was just that the author Peter Van Houten, seemed to understand me in weird and impossible ways. An Imperial Affliction was my book, in the way my body was my body and my thoughts were my thoughts.
Even so, I told Augustus. "My favourite book is probably An Imperial Affliction," I said.
I have any number of books that I am evangelical about, but I am not sure that I have a book like Hazel has. Do you?