Reading the Rocks: The Autobiography of the Earth

Reading the Rocks The Autobiography of the Earth To many of us the Earth s crust is a relic of ancient unknowable history But to a geologist stones are richly illustrated narratives telling gothic tales of cataclysm and reincarnation For than fo

  • Title: Reading the Rocks: The Autobiography of the Earth
  • Author: Marcia Bjornerud
  • ISBN: 9780465006847
  • Page: 346
  • Format: Paperback
  • To many of us, the Earth s crust is a relic of ancient, unknowable history But to a geologist, stones are richly illustrated narratives, telling gothic tales of cataclysm and reincarnation For than four billion years, in beach sand, granite, and garnet schists, the planet has kept a rich and idiosyncratic journal of its past Fulbright Scholar Marcia Bjornerud takesTo many of us, the Earth s crust is a relic of ancient, unknowable history But to a geologist, stones are richly illustrated narratives, telling gothic tales of cataclysm and reincarnation For than four billion years, in beach sand, granite, and garnet schists, the planet has kept a rich and idiosyncratic journal of its past Fulbright Scholar Marcia Bjornerud takes the reader along on an eye opening tour of Deep Time, explaining in elegant prose what we see and feel beneath our feet Both scientist and storyteller, Bjornerud uses anecdotes and metaphors to remind us that our home is a living thing with lessons to teach Containing a glossary and detailed timescale, as well as vivid descriptions and historic accounts, Reading the Rocks is literally a history of the world, for all friends of the Earth.

    One thought on “Reading the Rocks: The Autobiography of the Earth”

    1. A good intro to earth sciences. Despite the title, this book is only partly about rocks. The reason I got it was to get an introduction to geology, and it gave me a little of that, but not as much as I was looking for.But it does an admirable job of overview not only geology, but also covers the evolution of life, the origins of the solar system, and other far-flung subjects--all in 200 pages. The sections on subjects I already knew well were still interesting, but I'm not sure how well the geol [...]

    2. When the author focuses on geology, I liked it very much. Good attempt to find homely metaphors for geological processes. When she start on how we're running everything into the ground, I got bored

    3. This gal can really write. Among books in the genre "Science Not For Dummies." it's a standout. I had no background in geological earth science to speak of so I found the material rather dense (sorry, we're talking rocks here) but Prof. Bjornerud explains her terms and uses parallels from common experience to help the reader relate. There's a glossary worth using. I've started reading this again. It's worth it, and I expect by the second time through I'll have learned enough to take on other wor [...]

    4. Having taken Geology in college as my chosen science, I was naturally drawn to this book and also glad for that background knowledge. Reading the Rocks goes deep (for a non-scientist) in a number of areas, which I enjoyed, but it was not wise to delve in just before bed as I often did. The author's writing style is cleverly floral, and I found myself looking up words every so often. One thing I didn't expect but gained from this book was a renewed appreciation for the incredibly small odds that [...]

    5. What an amazing book for the person who wants to go deeper into geologywhy rocks look like they do continents formed and are still morphing concepts of evolution and cycles of geologic phases relate to all of life. Enjoyed author's pithy writing style and basic analogies to explain scientific concepts. Be a dream to take a class from Marcia B. This book should be in every high school and college library.

    6. Interesting, but not my cup of tea. While the subject is interesting - what we can infer about the history of the earth from its geology - the writing is dry and seems to suffer from an overactive thesaurus. I hate when large, esoteric words are used when they can be easily substituted with "normal" ones. Witnessing this pontification moves my review from a 3 to a 2. It really put a damper on the book.

    7. A geology book that reads like a good novel.The story of Earth keeps you entertained until the last page.Recommended as an introduction to geology, or to show anybody that geology needn't be a dull long word salad to laymen.(I read a Dutch translation myself.)

    8. I enjoyed her mix of scientific and narrative writing; this is often a difficult combination for writers/scientists. She does it very well!

    9. Reading the Rocks is a perfect book for me, since its two themes, geology and humanity's atrocities against the planet, are both things that fascinate me more than most things. And as a pop geology book, Bjornerud makes a contribution worth reading alongside books that are perhaps better written or give more information, like Richard Fortey's Earth, or Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything. She does give information that is still new and fascinating after reading those two books. Ho [...]

    10. My dear most brilliant man,I can see why you are using this book with your students. It reminds me very much of your own teaching style. I love her use of analogy to common, well-known, everyday situations, events and things to explain these concepts of science. That is so you. I particularly liked the analogy she used when explaining radioactivity. That was helpful. And I loved how detailed she got in explaining the problems and difficulties of the process. It was all most interesting.Once I hi [...]

    11. The title, Reading the Rocks, made me think this would have more to do with actual rocks than it did. There was some bits about rocks but more of it was on a much bigger scale. Thus the sub-title. Definitely a book chock full of information without getting overly technical. It was very consistent throughout making it relatively easy to follow. I say relatively, because it will definitely make you pause and think. At least it did for me, because the information was so far beyond what I previously [...]

    12. This book is a good overview/intro about how geologists use rocks to make educated guesses about the earth's climatological and biological history - a very difficult topic to explain to an average citizen with a vague recollection of high school science class. Because the subject is so huge (history of the planet Earth) and the science so technical (chemistry of how rocks change over time), it felt at times that the author had to simplify many concepts and that I was not fully understanding what [...]

    13. I love the concept of learning anything through stories. Maybe it shows my lack of creativity, but I'd never considered the idea that rocks have a story to tell. I'm so glad to learn they do! I don't speak the language of rocks, however, so I really appreciate Bjornerud's ability to translate their stories for me. An excellent tool she used to accomplish this was through metaphors. This helped me "get it" (oh, the joy of the ah-ha moments). Entertaining read. I love it when you can say that abou [...]

    14. For my Earth Science class, we were all assigned to read this very interesting looking book that tied in with the lessons we were learning. While most things in this book deemed as a great learning experience, I really couldn't read it again due to it being so in depth and well long and blunt. The section titles were very funny to read and definitely original, but for someone like me who is used to exciting and page turning stories, this, did not grab my attention like I hoped it would. If you'r [...]

    15. This book was really about a 3.5. Generally a good semi-basic book about Earth's biogeochemical history. The author did a good job explaining concepts in biology, geology and in environmental science in clear and concise ways. Generally, her explanations were entertaining and enjoyable. There were some times, however, when (even knowing a fair amount of geology) I had to reread to ensure I was understanding where she was going with her explanation.

    16. I liked Reading the Rocks. It has lots of little (often amusing) comments in parentheses, which is a lot like the way I think (and it comes out in my writing). I liked reading about geology and prehistory, and it was interesting to see all of the writing techniques I've been learning in Language Arts and English finally pop up in my reading. I would recommend this book to anyone who is curios about geology.

    17. I was required to read this book for a course on teaching geology. While I often appreciated the metaphors the author used, and the book often felt like poetry, this book was so poorly organized that it was difficult to follow and not useful. The author was able to talk about rocks from a philosophical perspective, which I appreciated. But it seemed like it was almost written in stream of consciousness.

    18. Bjornerud loves her metaphors and analogies! This book all in all, was a great piece of work. Since I'm a geology major, some of the ideas presented (mainly in the first few chapters) were all review, but she talked about rock types in a clear, interesting manor - enough so that I believe anyone with a small background of rocks would really learn from and enjoy this book. My only frustration with it is that it's more of an intro to geology, which I wasn't really looking for.

    19. This was a very accessible and enjoyable read about the major geologic events shaping Earth's history. I definitely learned some new things (a time before plate tectonics???) and was thoroughly engrossed in discovering exactly how delicate the balance truly has to be in order for our planet to sustain life.

    20. I have to admit, I liked this a lot more then "Bang!" (another book I read for school.) "Bang!" was interesting, but very confusing (And plus, the picture on the back. *Shivers*). This one was more interesting even, and also easier to understand. It was a little long, and still a bit confusing (I'm not good at Science-y stuff), but overall an enjoyable read.

    21. I liked the first part of the book a great deal but the last 30 pages or so, I could have done without. I don't feel like the added content to the book at all. While the prose was interesting and the topics with interesting for the first part, the last didn't interest me and I felt like it was even written differently.

    22. I learned a lot about geology from this book. It was a surprisingly easy read, but there were way too many metaphors, and some were really awkward. She should have stuck to geology though. When she touched on biology her lack of understanding was a bit embarassing and I didn't appreciate the preachy tone.

    23. I'm only 1/3 of the way into this today but I'm delighted. Bjornerud explains what seems like capricious indecisiveness of geological terms for naming/describing rocks. Every definintion comes with her clear cautionary commentary. She's a born teacher. I'm finding after my 5 years of geology lectures and field trips,she's finally pulling it together for me. This book is my platinum-find.

    24. This is one of the most important books I have read. It has given me a deep appreciation for the thin biosphere that is covering our orbiting rock planet. The depth of awareness offered by Marcia Bjornerud, if truly perceived, is the essence of enlightenment. What more is there to be said, except, read this book.

    25. Brilliant and lyrical account of how the earth functions (machine, organism, neither/both) through the lens of geology and mysteries it unlocks. This is the second time I've read this and will read it again at some point.

    26. An excellent introduction to geology that made me think I would have enjoyed majoring in it in college. The author knows her stuff and knows beginners, challenging us to learn terms and processes early on so that we can understand the more complex ideas later on. Well worth reading.

    27. A real mix - parts explained complicated earth processes well, some parts over explained controversies between geologists and lost me entirely.

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