Each of the 44 entries in John Green's collection, The Anthropocene Reviewed: Essays on a Human-Centered Planet, is a small gem, polished to near perfection. Most began as scripts for his podcast by the same name: "The Anthropocene is a proposed term for the current geologic age, in which humans have profoundly reshaped the planet and its biodiversity," Green explains, and in each essay, he "reviews different facets of the planet on a five-star scale."
The subjects vary wildly. He devotes an essay each to time-tested songs such as "You'll Never Walk Alone" and "Auld Lang Syne," as well as more recent favorites like "New Partner" and anything by the Mountain Goats. Sports essays cover everything from Liverpool football ("Jerzy Dudek's Performance on May 25, 2005") and American baseball (Rick Ankiel's series of wild pitches on October 3, 2000, in "The Yips") to "The Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest" on Coney Island ("I'll concede that competitive eating is a sport," writes Green). He devotes several essays to the ubiquitous staples of the Anthropocene: "The Internet," "CNN" and "The QWERTY Keyboard."
Through such wide-ranging frames emerge Green's (The Fault in Our Stars; Turtles All the Way Down) views on feminism and fatherhood, love and literature, art and nature, poverty and the planet, inviting readers into the questions and conversations. What unites them is his uncanny ability to structure each piece as both a critique of human foibles and an embracing of them--often concluding with an element of surprise. Five stars. --Jennifer M. Brown, senior editor, Shelf Awareness