How I (barely) Passed 11th Grade English

Watch on YouTube

Show annotations




Genre: People & Blogs

License: Creative Commons Attribution license (reuse allowed)

Family friendly? Yes

Wilson score: 0.9944

Rating: 4.9826 / 5

Engagement: 8.8%


Subscribe | 3.2M

Shared August 13, 2019

In which John discusses his many failures in high school English, and the book that changed his life.
Come see us on tour in Madison and Minneapolis:

If you haven't read Toni Morrison's novel The Bluest Eye, you really should. Also her other books!

Also, if you want to read books with an awesome community, subscriptions to Life's Library are currently available:

Subscribe to our newsletter!
And join the community at
Help transcribe videos -
John's twitter -
Hank's twitter -
Hank's tumblr -
Listen to The Anthropocene Reviewed at
Listen to Dear Hank and John at


Hi. People of Minneapolis and Madison, we hope to see you this weekend:

Also, if you want to read books with an awesome community, subscriptions to Life's Library are currently available:

Furthermore, did you know we have a poetry show with the Poetry Foundation debuting next month?

Lastly, if you haven't read Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, I hope you will! And also her other books. And if you have, I'd love for you to share what her books have meant to you. I know they've meant an awful lot to me. Thanks for being here. -John

6 days ago (edited) | [YT] | 344

Anya McKercher

There’s something very motivational about John struggling with English and going on to be a successful writer

6 days ago | [YT] | 2,308

Nate and Noah Try Life

“That’s why metaphor exists, not to torture high school English students, but to make the dull bright, thee old new, and the distant close.”

6 days ago | [YT] | 1,624

Autumn Berthold

"I'd known, of course, that the world was unjust--but reading The Bluest Eye, I felt it." This is a huge reason why I read. Thank you for putting it into words.

6 days ago (edited) | [YT] | 952


John: "I liked this book"
Me: add to cart

6 days ago | [YT] | 602

Laura McKinlay

"Language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names." This really resonated with me; I've felt the relief of finding words for things that I couldn't explain so many times in my life.

6 days ago (edited) | [YT] | 330

Shreya G

TATWD was so great, and the best thing was that it really allows one to understand anxiety and OCD and prior to reading it, I never understood what a “thought spiral” was. The metaphors worked.

6 days ago | [YT] | 329

Mindy Holahan Peters

Dang it, John, the efficiency with which you can get me to cry on a Tuesday afternoon is impressive. Thank goodness you're only allowed four minutes.

Then there's The Anthropocene Reviewed. Me after most episodes: 😭

5 days ago | [YT] | 59

shelby lindsey

If your 11th grade teacher could see you now and your seven publish books😂

6 days ago (edited) | [YT] | 361

Ceiling Fish

I feel like this shows how much teachers affect people’s lives...teachers are paid so little for such an influencing job and that’s concerning

6 days ago (edited) | [YT] | 139

Pourya Bigonah

Your english teacher should send you a copy of looking for Alaska with a note in it with the letter «A»

6 days ago | [YT] | 344

Anandi Puritipati

His being that students must attend class and mine being that "eh.."


6 days ago | [YT] | 169


Thanks John. Last week I asked for a book recommendation in the comments but I didn't expect you to go and make a whole video about it...

5 days ago (edited) | [YT] | 87

Noelle H.


6 days ago | [YT] | 228

Lord Pentington

Having just finished the Anthropocene Reviewed I was expecting John to say "I give Toni Morrison 5 stars"

5 days ago | [YT] | 99


I nearly failed high school, secondary school and university because of mental health. But I made it and its one of the biggest and proudest moments in my life. Ocd nearly killed me but if hasn't

6 days ago | [YT] | 252

Sam Seidel

"John has reached a juncture where he just can't mail it in anymore" is an excellent description of my 11th grade year.

6 days ago | [YT] | 96


Beloved is the kind of book you feel the need to read out loud even if nobody is with you just to peel away every syllable of beautiful prose.

6 days ago | [YT] | 133

Julie Marie

Is there ever going to be a video on this channel that I'm not gonna like and watch twice in a row?! Probably not.

5 days ago | [YT] | 29

B Rex

Moments like this make me proud to be an English teacher. :)

5 days ago | [YT] | 27