The Anthropocene Reviewed: Essays on a Human-Centered Planet

Dutton. May 2021. 304p. ISBN 9780525555216. $28. LIT
In these essays, the Anthropocene is defined as the era in which humans decided that humanity was the most important influence on the world. It is a circuitous definition, the humor and despair of which is not lost on Green (Turtles All the Way Down). In his first foray into nonfiction, Green explores the joys, sorrows, and inconveniences of being human, through essays reviewing things he has encountered in his life, from Diet Dr Pepper to viral meningitis. Each review is less about its central object or circumstance and more about how it reflects on the user or observer (we also learn Green’s true feelings on wintry mix). The book is a review of humanity: how we grow, how we build, how we destroy, and how we observe ourselves. Many books succeed at making the personal universal, but this one also makes the universal personal. With these essays, Green reveals his internal life in vignettes, with the hope that one of his stories will spark recognition and connection among readers.
VERDICT This is a book about culture, about science and medicine, about Green himself, but really it surpasses these designations. It is essential to the human conversation. John Green whispered the truth of humanity onto the page, and as with all good secrets, you’ll need to lean in closely to hear.
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