Jonathan Bate concludes his foreword to the volume as follows:
The Green Studies Reader should take its place as a central text in any course on the relationship between literature and questions of ecology and environment. The editor has done a superb job in terms of both extracts chosen and organisational principles. For the first time, it is possible to see both the continuity and the variety of the traditions in which “green thinking” has emerged within literary culture.
The theoretical, historical and practical exemplars collected in this book will stimulate new generations of students into new and vital reanimations and rethinkings of their literary inheritance.
Madeleine Minson in her review for the Times Higher Educational Supplement states:
Some 30 years after environmentalism became a force to be reckoned with in politics, it is finally making inroads into literary criticism. Urged on by the ever-growing threat to the planet – or indeed by the sheer love of nature – green theorists and critics are busy putting the physical environment centre stage, often with a view to effecting political change. Laurence Coupe’s Green Studies Reader provides an excellent overview of achievements to date in this emerging field. … [It] has the air of a pioneering publication. … With courses in ecocriticism beginning to appear in British universities, it should make a very good textbook indeed.
Peter Barry, in the final chapter of the second edition of his comprehensive and influential work, Beginning Theory (Manchester: MUP, 2002) recommends the book as follows:
This is the definitive UK collection, but it represents major contemporary American voices (Soper, Snyder, Slovic, Buell, Roszak, Glotfelty, etc) as well as British ones (Bate, Gifford, Garrard, Kerridge, etc), and includes early material from the Romantic period onwards. Fifty chapters, mostly quite short, in six well conceived and well introduced sections, so the book is kept to a sensible size of around 300 pages.
Kate Rigby, in the annotated bibliography to her lucid overview of ecological literary theory, which is included in Introducing Criticism of the 21st Century, edited by Julian Wolfrey (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2002), writes:
[The reader] is particularly valuable in that it embeds contemporary ecocritical research and reflection in a longer history of thinking about the relationship between nature and culture from romanticism through to the critique of modernity by twentieth-century writers and philosophers, such as D. H. Lawrence, Adorno and Horkheimer, and Heidegger. The second section on ‘Green Theory’ provides the basis for a more philosophically reflected ecocriticism by including work by critical theorists such as Kate Soper , Donna Haraway and Lyotard, while the final section provides a good range of examples of practical ecocriticism, including work on popular as well as canonical texts. Coupe’s general introduction and his introductions to each of the sections provide an excellent guide to the key questions motivating green theory and criticism today.