There is something exhilarating about having a favorite author when that author nails it every single time, even in a non-fiction collection of personal essays about our current geological age, in which human activity has profoundly shaped our planet — the Anthropocene.
In his first-ever foray into the world of non-fiction, Green writes about the world at large (the pandemic, Canada geese, the QWERTY keyboard) as well as his own personal journey (his writing, his struggles with OCD and depression, and his family). His writing is humorous, vulnerable, quotable, and at every turn brilliant! The Anthropocene Reviewed invites readers to thought and introspection, to marvel at both the joy and the intractability of our world.
It’s a keen observation of the human condition, of being “at once far too powerful and not nearly powerful enough. We are powerful enough to radically reshape Earth’s climate and biodiversity, but not powerful enough to choose how we reshape them.” Of being caught up in a world and life so much larger than ourselves, an experience that can never truly be contained within a five-star rating.
“The five-star scale doesn’t really exist for humans; it exists for data aggregation systems, which is why it did not become standard until the internet era. Making conclusions about a book’s quality from a 175-word review is hard work for artificial intelligences, whereas star ratings are ideal for them.”John Green
Green is a master storyteller and a sharp observer, and so there is something inherently riveting about each essay in this collection — be it his manifesto about his relationship with Dr. Pepper or his openness about his lifelong struggles with mental illness, in an essay that’s the most vulnerable and raw we’ve seen Green.
“For days now, my brain has refused to allow me to finish a thought, constantly interrupting with worries. Even my worries get interrupted—by new worries, or facets of old worries I had not adequately considered. My thoughts are a river overflowing its banks, churning and muddy and ceaseless. I wish I wasn’t so scared all the time—scared of the virus, yes, but there is also some deeper fear: the terror of time passing, and me with it.”John Green
The moment you finish this book, you’ll want to dive back in for a reread. I give The Anthropocene Reviewed five out of five stars.
Book: The Anthropocene Reviewed
Publication Date: May 18th, 2021
Penguin Random House kindly sent me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion, rating, or the content of my review.