The Anthropocene Reviewed {A Book a Day 1}

This is one of my newest favorite nonfiction books to recommend: The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green.

Don’t let the name of this book turn you off. Allow me to explain.

1. First, what does Anthropocene even mean?

Earth’s history is divided into epochs. The unofficial name of our current epoch is the Anthropocene (it’s still up in the air if we’re in a new epoch or not), taken from the Greek words anthropo (“man”) and cene (“new”).

So this is tentatively called the Anthropocene epoch because we humans have made such a significant impact on our environment.

But that’s sort of irrelevant to this book I’m recommending today. It is NOT about geologic epochs, trust me.

2. Instead, this delightful book is a review of everyday things.

It’s about the ordinary items we humans can relate to. Like, Diet Dr. Pepper or teddy bears or the Notes app.

It is called The Anthropocene Reviewed because John Green rates each item on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. For example, John Green gives Piggly Wiggly 2.5 stars out of 5.

Why do I recommend this book so highly?

  1. Each chapter is a fairly short stand-alone essay.
  2. The essays cover a wide variety of everyday topics.
  3. The writing is beautiful. (John Green normally writes fiction but he proves here he’s also an excellent nonfiction writer.)
  4. The trivia you learn makes for interesting thoughts and conversations.
  5. The author shares vulnerably about his personal life.
  6. For me, it fits perfectly with Human, my One Word of the year.


Here are four excerpts among my favorites.

“Like an expensive painting or a fragile orchid, I thrive only in extremely specific conditions.”

~ * ~

“We are so much the dominant creature on this planet that we essentially decide which species live and which die, which grow in numbers like the Canada goose, and which decline like its cousin the spoon-billed sandpiper. But as an individual, I don’t feel that power. I can’t decide whether a species lives or dies. I can’t even get my kids to eat breakfast.”

~ * ~

“Being busy is a way of being loud. And what my daughter needed was quiet space, for her small voice to be heard.”

~ * ~

“I have tried here to map some of the places where my little life brushes up against the big forces shaping contemporary human experience, but the only conclusion I can draw is a simple one: We are so small, and so frail, so gloriously and terrifyingly temporary.”

Have you read The Anthropocene Reviewed? Does a series of essays on everyday things appeal to you? Share your thoughts in the comments.

You are on Day #1 of the series, A Book a Day {Nonfiction Favorites}.

Each day of February 2023 I’ll be recommending one book a day from my favorite nonfiction books.

The Table of Contents for all 28 books is here, updated daily.

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A Book a Day: Nonfiction Favorites

17 thoughts on “The Anthropocene Reviewed {A Book a Day 1}

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      It took a little while to get the library copy, but my library had both the hardback and the ebook so that was nice! When possible I like to read from both, depending on where and when I’m reading. 🙂

  1. Jean Wise

    wow and yes the name at first did stopped me. But I loved what you shared and ordered it through my library already. Looking forward to exploring this. Thanks Lisa!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I had to look that up, and yes, it’s the same John Green! I wasn’t aware he did videos until today. 🙂 I was most familiar with him from his novels The Fault in Our Stars, Turtles All the Way Down, and An Abundance of Katherines.

  2. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Thank you. I love this line: “Being busy is a way of being loud. And what my daughter needed was quiet space, for her small voice to be heard.” Very interesting observation.
    PS I like stand-alone essay books b/c one can pick and choose a chap and not lose the flow and they are more readily absorbed. Recognizing that concept (like Natalie Goldberg uses in Writing Down the Bones, which, by the way, I would recommend, freed me to write my own book 🙂 ).

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I love hearing that stand-alone essay books freed you to write your own book, Lynn! I keep getting emails from Natalie Goldberg about a writing workshop she is offering. I haven’t signed up for it, but I’m sure it would be beneficial.

  3. Corinne Rodrigues

    I had no clue that he wrote non-fiction too. This sounds like a very interesting read. Thanks for sharing those passages.
    This one resonated with me: “Being busy is a way of being loud. And what my daughter needed was quiet space, for her small voice to be heard.”

  4. Harry Katz

    Hi Lisa, in case you didn’t know, John Green has a podcast with the same title. I listened to a few episodes but didn’t like it much so I’ve never read the book. Your review is so positive though, I think I should take another look. Thanks!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      No, I didn’t know he had a podcast too. He’s a very busy man! lol. I don’t know if you’d enjoy the book if you didn’t enjoy the podcast (I’m assuming the material is similar), but then again sometimes the medium makes a difference so you might give it a try. My husband even enjoyed it and he’s not a non-fiction reader. 🙂

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