Joining Cannonball Read has meant that I’m now part of the group of people reviewing books. Here’s a very obvious statement – reviewing something is quite different from simply enjoying that thing, even if you naturally have thoughts about it, maybe even sometimes discuss it with other people. To commit yourself to a few hundred (or more) words about a topic, and then to rate it – and share that with other people – it’s both a work that is very internal (we really must delve into our own selves, commit to some set of feelings about each book) and also, so optimistically external. We’re truly sharing our thoughts, with the express hope and expectation that someone else is going to read them, and feel something based on them, maybe even be moved to read or not read something new today.
Anyway, reviewing is something John Green knows a lot about. You might know him best from his fiction – The Fault in Our Stars, Waiting For Alaska, etc. He also has a podcast, which I haven’t listened to, but I believe it shares a title with this book. The Anthropocene Reviewed is a collection of essays about various elements of humanity (the Anthropocene is the name given to our current geologic era, in which humans have had a massive impact on our environment). He reviews many different experiences, ranging from sunsets to Diet Dr. Pepper. Each essay delves into John Green’s human experience with each topic, but it weaves in and out of being focused on his one unique life and the universal experiences that we all share. We might learn the history of a particular board game, or Green’s specific experience at a soccer game. Each essay closes with the well known reviewer likert scale – he rates each topic out of five stars.
Green is a gifted writer, and these essays are all well worth your time. Whether or not you can identify with the specifics of Green’s life, his experience as a human on this planet must in some ways intersect with all of ours. His wonder at the mysteries of the universe is infectious. His melancholy and yes, even despair, at the thought of what we have lost and are losing is recognizable.
This was, for me, the ideal audiobook. Each essay is contained within itself, about 15ish minutes to listen to, making it the perfect fodder for our 7-8 minute commute to school in the mornings. I started listening on my own, driving home from work, but my kids heard his essay on the Piggly-Wiggly and loved it so much they insisted on us listening together. I am ALWAYS in search of audiobooks that my kids and I can listen to together. Many times, my son would look over at me and ask, “Wait, WHAT is he reviewing again?” because so many times, an essay on, say, whispering, might be much more about his experience as a father or writer. I enjoyed listening to Green read his own essays (narration of fiction tends to bug me a bit in audiobook form). I give this book five stars.