Book Reviews

THE ANTHROPOCENE REVIEWED BY JOHN GREEN // spoiler-free book review: new to non-fiction but this collection of essays on obscure topics was top-notch!!

Didn’t know I’d be living in a world where John Green has written a book of essays about the state of the planet but I’m truly not mad about it.

Honestly, this book was just such an experience, an enjoyable one at that, and we love to see it.

I have no idea what I’m saying throughout this entire review, apologies in advance, so without further ado, let’s just get into the rambling! *hides*

Title: The Anthropocene Reviewed: Essays on A Human-Centered Planet
Author: John Green
Page count: 304
Date published: 18 May 2021
Genre: Adult non-fiction


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.


Big thanks to Penguin Random House SA for the review copy, and to for the ALC! All thoughts and opinions are my own.

STAR RATING: (4 out of 5 stars)

Before I get into what I thought about this book, I’d just like to mention that this cover is really doing something for me and I can’t explain why??? Like it’s highkey really cool and I love it a whole lot.

Anyways, look!! I READ A NON-FICTION!! I HAVE… WON AT LIFE!! A round of applause would be greatly appreciated.

This book was honestly such an experience! I listened to it on audiobook, so it’s narrated by John Green, and I could honestly just listen to him for hours. I was a tad young when John Green was at the height of popularity so I didn’t know much about him at the time, but over the past few years, as I learn more about his various life endeavors, I become more impressed. The same goes with Hank. Anyways, I just think that John Green as a person is really cool and that added the gajillionth layer to this reading experience.

I honestly didn’t know this book existed until I saw it available as an audiobook, nor did I think it was non-fiction, so I had absolutely no expectations. And it was just so so so fascinating. I have absolutely no clue how to rate a non-fiction so I’m just going with my overall feelings here and my very uneducated thoughts. I truly don’t know what I’m saying so bear with me here. This book was truly just going through John’s (yep first name basis here) mind i.e. the most obscure variety of topics, but with a real level of sophistication, a great insight and the unique Green sense of humour, creating the perfect blend. I do not think you could want more from a John Green non-fiction tbh.

Based on the fact that my opinions only go off being a John Green fan and a non-fiction newbie alone, the most I could tell you is that these essays were really well put together, though the ideas are kinda crazy, but they stay cohesive to a specific point. Which is why ITS SO GOOD!!! They were just a subjugation of ideas but it WORKED. SO. WELL. And it’s exactly what you’d expect from this author, but it could also stand on its own if you hadn’t read his fiction. If that makes sense?

As I said, I so loved how he drew from his own life, these random pieces of history, as well as  these miscellaneous locations and items from his life, but they are there for a reason. Literally to review them. Genius idea mayhaps? So the book essentially acts as a text that rates human life, which is a huge task to tackle, but John expertly does so with just enough expertise that it doesn’t feel like the challenge was too big to accomplish. Truly don’t know if I’m making any sense here but I hope you get what I’m saying. If you’ve read the book, you’ll get it. My subtle hint that you should be reading it otherwise you look fairly stupid. IM KIDDING!!!! The commentary on COVID-19 was also kinda unexpected, to be honest, but he really got down to the point and in my opinion, spoke on its severity quite efficiently.

One of my favourite chapters was early on where he discussed relating the Earth’s timeline to the calendar year, which actually blew my mind!!!! My jaw was on the floor, not even kidding. I also liked the chapter where he spoke about his friend Amy. The final chapters were super well done and concluded the book brilliantly.

Overall, this was such an interesting read and I really enjoyed the listening experience. Would also lowkey listen to John Green read his shopping list and I can’t quite pinpoint why. I give The Anthropocene Reviewed 4 stars! ha get my reference? I’ll leave now,,,

“To fall in love with the world isn’t to ignore or overlook suffering, both human or otherwise. For me anyway, to fall in love with the world is to look up at the night sky and feel your mind swim before the beauty and the distance of the stars. It is to hold your children while they cry and watch the sycamore trees leaf out in June. When my breastbone starts to hurt, and my throat tightens and tears well in my eyes, I want to look away from feeling. I want to deflect with irony or anything else that will keep me from feeling directly. 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.”

“One of the strange things about adulthood is that you are your current self, but you are also all the selves you used to be, the ones you grew out of but can’t ever quite get rid of.”

“You can’t see the future coming–not the terrors, for sure, but you also can’t see the wonders that are coming, the moments of light-soaked joy that await each of us.”

“For me, finding hope is not some philosophical exercise or sentimental notion; it is a prerequisite for my survival.”

“I am thoughtful—full of thoughts, all the time, inescapably, exhaustingly. But I am also mindless—acting in accordance with default settings I neither understand nor examine.”

“Humans are not the protagonists of this planet’s story. If there is a main character, it is life itself, which makes of earth and starlight something more than earth and starlight. But in the age of the Anthropocene, humans tend to believe, despite all available evidence, that the world is here for our benefit.”

“It’s no wonder we worry about the end of the world. Worlds end all the time.”

“I think it’s helpful to know how sunsets work. I don’t buy the romantic notion that scientific understanding somehow robs the universe of its beauty, but I still can’t find language to describe how breathtakingly beautiful sunsets are–not breathtakingly, actually, but breath-givingly beautiful. All I can say is that sometimes when the world is between day and night, I’m stopped cold by its splendor, and I feel my absurd smallness. You’d think that would be sad, but it isn’t. It only makes me grateful.”

“When people we love are suffering, we want to make it better. But sometimes – often, in fact – you can’t make it better. I’m reminded of something my supervisor said to me when I was a student chaplain: “Don’t just do something. Stand there.”

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

“History, like human life, is at once incredibly fast and agonizingly slow.”

“I know the world will survive us—and in some ways it will be more alive. More birdsong. More creatures roaming around. More plants cracking through our pavement, rewilding the planet we terraformed. I imagine coyotes sleeping in the ruins of the homes we built. I imagine our plastic still washing up on beaches hundreds of years after the last of us is gone. I imagine moths, having no artificial lights toward which to fly, turning back to the moon.”



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