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The Anthropocene Reviewed Summary
My Review of The Anthropocene Reviewed
I’ve been a bit critical of John Green in the past — there are certainly some books of his that have content I disagree with, and to be completely honest, I think his popularity has turned me off. (Hank Green, however, is a different story.) But, regardless of what you think about him, you have to agree that he’s a genius. John Green is a fascinating thinker — yes, sometimes he comes off as a bit pretentious in The Anthropocene Reviewed, but it also feels very true to who he is. He writes with a lot of self-awareness, which is something we don’t see too often in white male authors.
My first impression of The Anthropocene Reviewed was that it was kind of an ambitious title, until Green explained that, true to his roots, his essays were in part a reference to the internet. Each thing, each event in his book is rated on a one-to-five star scale, adding some much-needed levity to what can be at times, heavy pieces.
Each essay truly comes across as an in-the-moment meditation. At times, Green describes exactly what he’s doing while writing the essay, and you feel as if you are sitting there alongside him. His focus at times is on tiny, seemingly insignificant things (for example, I never thought grass could be so interesting), but he also tackles the major questions, like how the internet has changed us as a species. He pens essays about his anxiety, about his time spent training as a chaplain, raw pieces that are admirable for their complexity and honesty — and there isn’t always a straightforward answer or conclusion.
In one particularly powerful story, Green questions the possible exploitation of trauma in sharing these anecdotes, and if so, does literature as a whole further that narrative. That one’s been bouncing around in my head for a while.
Although, as the title would suggest, many essays lean more towards critiques (some harsher than others), there’s no bitterness in this collection. That’s what truly made The Anthropocene Reviewed special — regardless of the subject, you can still feel the wonder and hope in Green’s voice. He shows that you can turn almost anything and everything into something beautiful. Despite his all-too-relatable frustration, this is overall quite an optimistic book. Highly recommend.