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2022 Summer Reading

Humans, as a species, have tremendous impact on this world. We are capable of extending life by developing vaccines, creating artificial life by studying how squirrels jump from branch to branch to design more adaptable robots, and, sadly, of ending it through war, or violence, or neglect.

Last year, Aimee Nezhukumutathil’s World of Wonders asked us to learn from the natural world, and this year, The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green will challenge us to look at the human-centered one. In a series of essays loosely based on the phenomenon of the five-star review, Green muses on the vastness of humanity and the smallness of the individual, and he shows us how each of the tiny ripples in our lives create meaning even when we cannot easily see it.

Download the PDF guide to our 2022 summer reading. As a reminder, all students should plan to read this book — or at least the recommended sections — before the first day of school on Monday, Aug. 15. 

A Note from LaMags

You should read this whole book. It’s just that good. There’s a whole essay on Super Mario Kart! But, as I try to emulate a lot of what Green does here whenever I lead community meeting, I know I’m biased. So, if you are pressed for time or energy, focus your attention on these essays:

  • The Introduction
  • “You’ll Never Walk Alone”
  • “Scratch n’ Sniff Stickers”
  • “Sunsets”
  • “Googling Strangers”
  • “Indianapolis”
  • “Kentucky Bluegrass”
  • “The Indianapolis 500”
  • “The Yips”
  • “Monopoly”
  • “The World’s Largest Ball of Paint”
  • “Sycamore Trees”

If audiobooks are more your thing, you can find the collection on Audible, and most of the essays appear on The Anthropocene Reviewed podcast, which inspired the book. 

However you live with this text, I hope you enjoy it.

Questions to Consider As You Read

Part of what makes John Green a brilliant writer is his ability to take very specific things from contemporary life – the QWERTY keyboard, Joep Van Lieshouts’s Funky Bones sculpture, the intersection of 86th and Ditch – and fix them at the center of a larger, universal idea. As you read – or listen – to these essays, consider the following things:

  • What is Green asking you to think about that you haven’t thought about before?

  • Green uses the term “anthropocene” to refer to the current geological age in which humans have become the most significant force on Earth. How might you agree or disagree with this term?

  • How would you describe this book to someone? Is it funny? Comforting? Distressing? Hopeful?

  • What small things in your life have great meaning to you?

  • What specific thing in your life could you review in this way?