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The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green

The Anthropocene Reviewed

by John Green

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Quick take

In this witty collection of essays filled with insightful ideas, John Green reviews the faults—and merits—in ourselves.

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The Anthropocene is the current geological age, in which human activity has profoundly shaped the planet and its biodiversity. In this remarkable symphony of essays adapted and expanded from his ground-breaking, critically acclaimed podcast, John Green reviews different facets of the human-centered planet—from the QWERTY keyboard and Halley's Comet to Penguins of Madagascar—on a five-star scale.

Complex and rich with detail, the Anthropocene's reviews have been praised as “observations that double as exercises in memoiristic empathy,” with over 10 million lifetime downloads. John Green's gift for storytelling shines throughout this artfully curated collection about the shared human experience; it includes beloved essays along with six all-new pieces exclusive to the book.

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The Anthropocene Reviewed


It is May of 2020, and I do not have a brain well suited to this.

I find more and more that I refer to it as “it” and “this” without naming or needing to name, because we are sharing the rare human experience so ubiquitous that the pronouns require no antecedent. Horror and suffering abound in every direction, and I want writing to be a break from it. Still, it makes its way in—like light through window blinds, like floodwater through shut doors.

I suppose you are reading this in my future. Maybe you are reading in a future so distant from my present that “this” is over. I know it will never fully end—the next normal will be different from the last one. But there will be a next normal, and I hope you are living in it, and I hope I am living in it with you.

In the meantime, I have to live in this, and find comfort where I can. For me, lately, comfort has meant a show tune.

In 1909, the Hungarian writer Ferenc Molnár debuted his new play, Liliom, in Budapest. In the play, Liliom, a troubled and periodically violent young carousel barker, falls in love with a woman named Julie. When Julie becomes pregnant, Liliom attempts a robbery to support his burgeoning family, but the robbery is a disaster, and Liliom dies. He ends up in purgatory for sixteen years, after which he is allowed a single day to visit his now-teenaged daughter, Louise.

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Why I love it

In his latest book, The Anthropocene Reviewed, beloved author John Green leaves the world of fiction behind for his first nonfiction work. While we’ve come to love characters like Hazel and Alaska, this time we get to experience John Green’s own thoughts and stories through a collection of essays. It may be different than we’re used to, but it is a classic John Green book that explores the things that make us human.

The Anthropocene is described as the current geological age, in which humans are shaping the world and its biodiversity. Originally a podcast, John Green’s newest book reviews the Anthropocene in thoughtful short essays where he rates things ranging from Canadian Geese and Diet Dr. Pepper to Halley’s Comet and Velociraptors, all on a five-star scale. Written during the pandemic, this book is as much about observing the world as it is about living in it and finding hope in difficult times.

John Green is known for drawing readers in with his storytelling, and his new book does not disappoint. Using details, facts, and anecdotes from his own life, he has created essays that will help you reflect on the world and your place in it. This book is full of hope and wonder which can be hard to find with everything going on in the world.

And now in the spirit of The Anthropocene Reviewed, I give this book five stars.

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Member ratings (2,597)

  • Alannah C.

    Oakland, CA

    The perfect pandemic read, if that’s a thing. Full of much-needed hope, clever insight, and fun facts, it made me so grateful to be alive, to be human. I give “The Anthropocene Reviewed” five stars.

  • Jared B.

    Hernando, MS

    This is my favorite style of writing. It’s so personal and relatable. It’s clever and funny, but it’s also quite moving and poignant. Seemingly mundane objects are made thought-provoking. Five stars.

  • Andrea C.

    Tulsa, OK

    It’s not the kind of book you need to devour in one sitting. Perhaps it’s even better enjoyed over time, bit by bit. There were several essays that resonated deeply with me. Long live Diet Dr Pepper.

  • Brianna W.

    Milwaukee, WI

    Since being a YA reader as a teen I’ve always loved John Green’s work. The essay form made this a quick read, and made me ponder things in the human experience that are often overlooked in society.

  • Kelly D.

    Ringwood, NJ

    The writing is breathtaking in a few of the essays- especially the one about sunsets, the Indy 500, and the artist’s circle drawings. I’d never listened to the podcast, but loved every bit of this.

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