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Screenshot of John Green taken via Zoom during a leg of his book tour for \"The Anthropocene Reviewed\"

#10 Things I Learned With John Green’s Latest Book, “The Anthropocene Reviewed”

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Last month, I actually got the chance to put my hands in a digital copy of John Green’s latest book, “The Anthropocene Reviewed”. To be completely honest, I was beyond scared of picking this book up, just because it was listed as non-fiction. Thankfully, I had nothing to be scared about.

With witty jokes and random fun facts, the author that once made us ball our eyes out with “The Fault In Our Stars” makes us cry again while guiding us through his personal life. The book is a brand-new version of Green’s podcast, which has the exact same name, but — allow me to warn you — way more personal and reflective.

With that in mind, I listed — in a very chaotic, messy way — the ten main things I learned with “The Anthropocene Reviewed”:

John Green’s personality matches with some of his characters

As you seem to get more into the book, you start to notice that there’s a bit of John Green-ess in some of his famous characters. In one chapter, he says that “the pleasure of smoking for me wasn’t about a buzz; the pleasure came from the jolt of giving in to an unhealthy physical craving”. I’m sensing a bit of Augustus Waters. What about you?

Also, the iconic sarcasm that every single character he writes has is undeniably his mos prominent personality trait for sure. You can finish a single chapter of this book without at least cracking a smile at his smart remarks.

Velociraptors weren’t actually big
Emma Romano
Original photo by Emma Romano

I bet five bucks that when you imagine a velociraptor, you picture something maybe over 6’5. However, did you know that they were actually way smaller, and that thought of them that we have was mainly created by the “Jurassic Park” franchise? Intriguing right?

According to paleontologists, velociraptors were actually waist level if compared to us humans as we know now. So, instead of being almost 6’5″, they were probably 1’6’’. And that’s why John Green tells us that “our image of velociraptors says more about us than it does about them”. Don’t you love this book already?

History is new

And since we are talking about extinct species, I must tell you something that will have you reflecting for a minute: history is new. I know, you must be wondering, “how can this random girl tell me that history is new if there are animals that are millions of years old”. Let me explain myself so you will understand.

All this information that we know that happened many years ago is new. Science is new, scientific research is only a couple of years old. Therefore, every single historical fact that we know is actually new. “History is new. Prehistory is newer. And paleontology is newer still.” 

We have more in common with Canada Geese than we think

First, let me introduce you to Canada Geese, in case you aren’t familiar with it. According to Wikipedia, they are “large wild geese with black head and neck, white cheeks, white under its chin, and a brown body”. Your good ol’ park geese.

And just like us, they get moody sometimes. They bite, they scream when stressed — we don’t actually bite (I hope so) but we do scream when we get stressed. In John Green’s words, just like most of us, they are hard to love.

Another important fact that makes us similar to Canada Geese is the death rate. They have many predators like coyotes, wolves, and even some angry owls. However, when they die of violence, “it is almost always human violence”, just like us. 

According to Canadian Wildlife Service, yearly, over 500 thousand geese are taken by hunters. When talking about humans, we are runner-ups, but with a pretty significant number of over 400 thousand deaths by homicide.

Being an adult is scary (and that’s OK)

At last, after scaring us away with some spooky and hard-to-swallow facts, John Green reassures us that embracing adult life is hard for everybody, even New York bestseller authors.

In “The Anthropocene Reviewed”, he taught me that if I ever want to run away to my teenage years, I’m only one Spotify playlist away — or if music is not my thing, only a Victoria Secret’s Pink Perfume away from reliving all of those memories. Because home is not a place, it is a moment, a memory.

Besides that, he punches our throat, reminding us that we will never be that kid holding a fluffy teddy bear again. And maybe if you still have that teddy bear — that is now worn out and maybe a bit funny looking — things just aren’t the same. “Rivers keep going, and we keep going, and there is no way back.”

We should all normalize the vulnerability of living

The other thing that comes with adulting is vulnerability. It can make us feel small, fragile, and scared, but that shouldn’t be a bad thing. Want to read a comforting yet gut-wrenching quote from John Green talking about his experience? “I think I’m just scared that if I show the world my belly, it will devour me. And so I wear the armor of cynicism and hide behind the great walls of irony, and only glimpse beauty with my back turned to it, through the Claude glass.”

And growing up can be a heck of a ride if we’re being honest. Leaving our parent’s house, meeting new people, maybe losing a few friends along that way. That can get pretty scary. However, if we give up trying new things, how will we learn how to actually live? “You can’t see the future coming—not the terrors, for sure, but you also can’t see the wonders that are coming, the moments of light-soaked joy that await each of us.”

Friends come and go (and that’s not a bad thing)

I know, that seems painful. We all don’t want to think about not talking to those we love in the near future, but let’s be honest: it can happen. The ones that loved us until this moment might not be in our lives, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t rutting for our happiness and success.

Let’s keep cheering them silently, hoping that they are cheering us back.

While growing up, we create many versions of ourselves

One thing about changing friend groups and cities and situations is that you are going to — kind of — shape-shift. Leaving the old town you lived in can make you discover a whole new personality deep inside you that you didn’t even know that was there.

However, discovering a new you, does not mean you get to detach yourself from your previous you. “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”.

All that you were, lived, knew, listened and met as you were your other self led you to this exact moment. Yeah, right now. Cool, huh?

John Green’s favorite band went viral on TikTok after the book was released

I’m done with the sappy lessons, let’s cut to the fun facts again.

John Green’s all-time favorite band is The Mountain Goats. Their sound is a mix of indie-acoustic-punk-folk. You will understand once you give them a listen — if you haven’t stumbled on one of their songs on TikTok.

Sorry to burst your bubble, Mr. Green, but unfortunately, the release of “The Anthropocene Reviewed” has nothing to do with the TikTok hit. At least, I don’t think so. However, your surname is in fact on the trend — blame your older brother Hank for that one.

You should listen to that song: “No Children”, by The Mountain Goats. And while you are there, make sure you learned the choreo, so you can play it on repeat while doing the full performance.

You should never try to predict the end of the world

Saving the best for last, this one is a pretty witty one, but I want to be 100% direct on this one, so I’m just going to quote John Green again.

“Never predict the end of the world. You’re almost certain to be wrong, and if you’re right, no one will be around to congratulate you.”

Amanda Oestreich

Casper Libero '22

Journalism major, playlist enthusiast and enemies-to-lovers #1 fan Senior editor @ Her Campus at Cásper Líbero
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