Kayleigh Roberts
March 20, 2015 10:31 am

In John Green’s mega-hit novel/soon-to-be mega-hit movie, Paper Towns, the leading lady, Margo Roth Spiegelman offers a very deep and meaningful definition of a paper town. From high in a tower at night, she explains to the narrator/protagonist, Q, that their hometown is a “paper town” — nice-looking from a distance, but flimsy and fake up close. It’s a poetic definition of a paper town, but not entirely accurate, from a historical perspective.

As anyone who really knows about John Green knows, he’s a bit of a history/factoid junkie (see his YouTube videos for Mental Floss, if you need proof). So, it’s not really a shocker that John felt the need to share the traditional meaning of a “paper town” with his fans. In a video posted on his YouTube channel, vlogbrothers, John explained that paper towns refer to fictional landmarks (they could be full towns, but were usually smaller things, like streets and bridges) that mapmakers would add to their maps as a form of copyright. Basically, if another map showed up with the same totally-made-up town/street/bridge/whatever, the mapmaker would know he or she was being ripped off. It might not be as poetic as Margo’s take on paper towns, but it’s SUPER interesting. Listen to John explain the whole thing himself. He’s better at it than I am, anyway.

I love random bits of information like this and John Green never fails to deliver on the randomly interesting and interestingly random.

(Image via here.)