John Green’s ‘the Anthropocene Reviewed’ Shows Our Capacity to Love

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When I picked up “The Anthropocene Reviewed” by John Green, I didn’t know what to expect.

Green is best known for his bestselling young adult novels; his books “The Fault In Our Stars,” “Looking For Alaska,” and “Paper Towns” have all been adapted for film or television. “The Anthropocene Reviewed” is Green’s first book since the 2017 novel “Turtles All The Way Down,” and also his first nonfiction book by him.

Ever since I started reading YA over 10 years ago, I’ve been a fan of Green’s books and the Youtube channel he and his brother Hank share for a long time. When I bought an audio copy of “The Anthropocene Reviewed,” it had been a while since I’d read anything by Green; I was in a reading slump and looking for something new but still familiar. This book came highly recommended by many of my friends whose book opinions I implicitly trust.

In the introduction, Green explains the book’s format: a collection of short, essay-style reviews that explore a single facet of human life. Things as broad as “sunsets” and specific as “Jerzy Dudek’s Performance on May 25, 2005” are covered in the 304-page book. Each essay ends with him giving the topic a rating on a scale of one-to five-stars.

The book is adapted and expanded from a podcast of the same name that Green started in 2018, but parts were written during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is referenced in some of the essays.

“The Anthropocene Reviewed” is a book that helps you find meaning from the pandemic.

In the book’s introduction, Green references the COVID-19 pandemic directly, as he had been working on this book when it began. It pops up in various essays across the book.

At first, I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy reading about the pandemic we’re still living through. But I found Green’s words poignant and reassuring. “How will we ever recover from the loss, and separation, and heartbreak around us?” I have writes. “Perhaps only the same way we achieve immunity: by sharing it.”

To me, “The Anthropocene Reviewed” served as a reminder that even with everything going on in the world, we can still find joy in little things. Humans have an incredible capacity to love, and this book is proof that no matter how big or small, there is so much in this world to love. Some of the book’s examples of small joys include raising a glass on New Year’s Eve, singing a song in unison with a football stadium full of fans, and his favorite band, The Mountain Goats.

In one of the book’s essays, Green writes, “we all know how loving ends. But I want to fall in love with the world anyway, to let it crack me open. I want to feel what there is to feel while I am here.” .” I want to allow myself to feel big feelings and appreciate small joys, especially in the most uncertain of times.

It got me thinking about the things I’d categorize as my own small joys, or what I’d write my essays about: curtain call at a Broadway show, the last page of a good book, or dinner with my best friend.

The essays are full of delightful, surprising turns.

While the subject Green reviews may seem simple, he uses it as a way to tell a larger, more interesting story. For example, a chapter on “Googling strangers” includes Green recounting a story from his time as a student chaplain at a children’s hospital. It’s so unexpected and beautifully written.

There are multiple chapters that are deeply personal, detailing physical and mental health issues Green has dealt with, and others that are more lighthearted, like the first five minutes of “The Penguins of Madagascar.” The book combines the introspective and witty writing style Green is known for, with his own experiences of him.

The audiobook (narrated by Green) is even better.

I recommend the audiobook — read by Green himself — because I connected to the material even more hearing the emotion in Green’s voice as he talked about certain subjects, including the pandemic and the 1950 film “Harvey.”

I’m glad I didn’t know what to expect when I picked this book up because it was nice to be surprised by how funny it is, how beautifully written the stories are, and even by Green himself, as his first nonfiction book is easily as good as his YA hits.

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