In his essay collection “The Anthropocene Reviewed,” John Green explores the human-centered planet through a series of stories ending in Yelp-like reviews.
Green is best known for his YA novels, like “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Paper Towns” (both of which I read back to back) but in this collection, he takes on topics ranging from the history of Lascaux Cave Paintings to random items like the QWERTY keyboard, Monopoly, and Super Mario Kart.
If you’re unfamiliar with his writing style, I recommend you watch his YouTube videos on Mental Floss and Crash Course.
Now, going back to the book. While the essays are often funny, they’re also thought-provoking and poignant. I found that I had to put down the book after reading an essay entitled “Academic Decathlon.” Here’s the quote from that story that hit me:
“I wonder if you have people in your life whose love keeps you going even though they are distant now because of time and geography and everything else that comes between you.”– John Green
Here are some of the best quotes from “The Anthropocene Reviewed.”
“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.”– John Green
This quote was pulled from an essay wherein Green muses on the difficulties of growing up and growing old. He writes about how our past selves never really leave us and how we must learn to coexist with them. It’s a moving essay that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt like they’re stuck between two worlds.
“What we did: love. We did not spend our days gazing into each other’s eyes. We did that gazing when we made love or when one of us was in trouble, but most of the time our gazes met and entwined as they looked at a third thing. Third things are essential to marriages, objects or practices or habits or arts or institutions or games or human beings that provide a site of joint rapture or contentment. Each member of a couple is separate.”– Donald Hall
This quote is from Donald Hall, which Green quoted in his essay on “Bonneville Salt Flats.” Here, Green argues that marriage isn’t about finding your soulmate; it’s about finding someone with whom you can share your life. He writes about how marriages need external sources of joy to thrive and how couples must learn to view themselves as individuals within a partnership. It’s a unique take on what it means to be married, and it will likely challenge everything you thought you knew about relationships.
“The Anthropocene Reviewed” is filled with quotable lines about everything from sunset to the internet. If you’re looking for a book that will make you laugh, think, and feel all at the same time, this is it.
P.S. The book also won the Goodreads Choice award for Nonfiction in 2021, so you’re in good company.