The Story of More by Hope Jahren || Nonfiction Book Review

A story of changes, big and small

50 years isn’t a long time. When thinking about the grand scale of our planet, 50 years is no time at all. So how do we reckon with the impacts of 50 years? Hope Jahren tackles that question in The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where To Go From Here.

The author sets up this tale as her reluctant acceptance of teaching a class on climate change. She felt it was an impossible task. Why teach something when it all feels so futile on the personal scale. If she knew all the data and still drove a oil-leaking car, how could she teach college students anything meaningful? Instead of somehow finding optimism, she decided to look at ~change~ itself. And with that we have this book.

Jahren uses a 50 year time frame to compare life and the earth before and after. 1969, the year she was born, to 2019, a year in the midst of a climate crisis. It’s just a small scale, with huge implications. Chapter by chapter, she goes through how our way of life has changed in those 50 years: everything from population growth, how we grow grains and meat, how we travel and keep the lights on. And she goes into how things have changed for the planet, from air composition, weather patterns and the seas.

It all makes for an easily digestible, information-packed crash course on our changing planet. And throughout, Jahren mixes in how she and her family fit into the whole thing with anecdotes and asides, to add a personal touch to something both global and impersonal yet so important for each individual.

Jahren by no means takes any blame or responsibility away from the massive corporations and entities who have the most riding on them in this crisis. But she does offer some changes we all could make if we don’t want to feel like the effort is hopeless or futile. Doing something is better than doing nothing after all.

Hope Jahren’s debut book, Lab Girl, was and is still one of my favorite books. Does this compare? No. But no climate change manifesto ever could rise up to meet such an emotional memoir. Do I still wholeheartedly recommend this, for informed and uninformed world citizens alike? Absolutely.

The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where To Go From Here by Hope Jahren
Read on both eARC (received from Netgalley from Vintage Books in exchange for an honest review) and on audio, narrated by the author

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