The Anthropocene Reviewed
Author: John Green
Page Count: 274
Original Publication Date: 2021
Genre(s): Nonfiction, Essays
“Anthropocene is a proposed term for the current geologic age, in which humans have profoundly reshaped the planet and its biodiversity.”
The Anthropocene Reviewed is exactly that — John Green reviewing and rating various aspects of the Anthropocene. But Green’s reviews don’t sound like a Yelp! or Google review of your questionable local restaurant; instead, his reviews are multiple pages long and relate his own experiences to whatever he’s rating. Green reviews everything from Halley’s comet to sunsets, air-conditioning to the Notes app, and rates each out of five stars. Each essay is about the thing/place/human experience Green is reviewing, but the essays go a lot deeper than that. You wouldn’t think an essay on Super Mario Kart would somehow relate to real life success and America’s political, social, & economic systems, but Green does so flawlessly. And that’s only one example of the many essays this book contains.
I’ve been a diehard John Green fan ever since reading The Fault in Our Stars back in 2013. I wasn’t even sure I’d like it — I heard about it on Goodreads and through various blogs, and snagged it off the shelf at Barnes & Noble almost on a whim. Since then, I’ve read it thirteen times (I think I’m due for another re-read, actually). Also since then, I’ve read every book John Green has written, listened to his podcasts, and even met him in-person while waiting many hours in line for Hank’s first book tour. Needless to say, I am a fan. A big fan. Though it takes me a little while longer to read nonfiction than it takes me to read fiction, I loved every moment reading The Anthropocene Reviewed.
Because each chapter is a different essay about a separate topic, I found it easy to read a chapter, put it down, and come back to it later for another. My favorite time to read a chapter or two was in the early mornings on my couch with the blinds pulled back, letting in the morning sun and enjoying a cup of coffee and the sound of silence. (My fiancée enjoys constant noise from various forms of media happening all at once, whereas I enjoy silence, so early mornings when she’s still sleeping are my favorite.) Over the years I’ve become a much more emotional person since learning to express my emotions healthily (thank you, therapy), so I do cry often — and a lot — and easily. The Introduction to this book made me tear up. Many of these essays, in fact, made me very emotional. But it was the chapters I read during those early mornings that especially affected me. I’m not sure if it was the time of day, the particular words, or a lucky combination of the two, but those feelings of hope and relatability and appreciation will stick with me for a while.
I’ve always found it hard to review and rate nonfiction books. I think books in general are very subjective in that everyone will experience them and enjoy them differently. Even the same person can experience the same book differently the second time they read it than when they read it the first time, which I find incredible. (I love re-reading books at different points in my life.) When I rate a book, I am rating it based on my own personal preference, and not as a hard fact. John Green rates wintry mix four out of five stars. If you don’t live in the Midwest, you might not have experienced wintry mix before and do not know how to rate it; if you do live in the Midwest, there’s a strong possibility you give it zero stars. (Personally, I give wintry mix four stars as well, for similar reasons to Green, but also because I love all forms of winter precipitation and all things winter.) Basically: ratings and reviews are subjective. But I find so much value in the way other people rate and review things, from restaurants to hotels, books to movies, random items in my Amazon cart to brands of food.
The reviews in this book mean a lot to me. John Green as a writer means a lot to me. I often found myself relating to John Green’s anxiety and temperament and worldview, so John Green as a person means a lot to me, too. (Honestly, I’d move to Indiana if there was even the smallest chance I could become his friend.) Some days I’m filled with overwhelming hope and joy; others, crushing anxiety, sadness, and despair. But that’s normal. That’s human. And I appreciate Green’s ability to write about all these emotions and more so openly and honestly, and in that same breath relate that to and rate Kentucky bluegrass. I rate this book five out of five stars. I rate John Green as a writer and human five out of five stars. And I rate Green’s ability to make me feel so nostalgic for so many things (many of which I’ve never experienced myself) five out of five stars. What an incredible book. I, too, like Green, am learning to love the world. I recommend this book to everyone living in the Anthropocene.