The Anthropocene Reviewed examines the human experience in the present geologic age aka the Anthropocene. National Geographic defines it as “an unofficial unit of geologic time, used to describe the most recent period in Earth’s history when human activity started to have a significant impact on the planet’s climate and ecosystems”. And this present age that we live in might elicit a doom and gloom outlook for you like it does once in a while for me- especially when a new IPCC report is released or a COP is taking place. In this open-hearted compilation of essays Green makes room for irony, beauty, joy, belonging, anger, sorrow, grief, and the whole spectrum of human emotions in spite of apparent doom and gloom.
I read The Fault in Our Stars when it came out in 2012. Since then I haven’t been compelled to picking up any of Green’s books. I almost passed off picking up The Anthropocene Reviewed. But the positive reviews convinced me to do otherwise. And I ended up absolutely loving this collection of essays which is really a witty and poignant memoir that serves as a sign of the times.
This book has been out for one year now, but I think I picked it up at the right time personally. In the weeks before I picked up this book I was on a downward spiral from reading too many climate change pieces and the IPCC report. The incessant atmospheric rivers in the Pacific Northwest did not help. I have admired Jane Goodall for years so when I came across The Book of Hope I thought it would help lift my dwindling spirit. I started listening to the audiobook but I had to abandon it halfway because it just wasn’t working for me. I needed something refreshing- and I found that in The Anthropocene Reviewed. Green talks about conventionally sticky issues such as depression and ecological extinction in a playful and relatable manner- which did wonders to lessen my anxieties. I devoured the book and the audiobook- I recommend the audiobook if you have an option.
I became a huge fan of the concept of ending chapters with ratings on a 5 star scale. The idea is that our reviews of books, movies, dinners, etc are not true reviews of those things but instead these reviews are reviews of our own private experiences of those things. And it is precisely what I’m doing here alongside millions of people. We’re all leaving bread crumbs of our own memoirs. I find that idea mesmerizing. As I rate this book, I’m reminded that I can’t really rate this book, what I’m rating is my experience of it. With any essay collection, you are bound to adore some essays and for other essays, you wish you hadn’t read them. And here is one of the more successful essay collections I have come across.
I give the The Anthropocene Reviewed five stars.