How do I Choose the Best Geology Books?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 10 August 2019
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There are a lot of geology books on the market for people to choose from, covering topics which vary from scholarly discussions of fossils found in particular geological strata to topical books which are designed to familiarize travelers with the geology of a particular area. There are a number of things to think about when choosing geology books which will help people make the right decision. Since specialty books can be quite costly, it's a good idea to avoid making a mistake.

The first thing to consider is what the book is being used for. If a geology book is being purchased for a geology class, for example, it's a good idea to start with the books which are listed as required or recommended reading. Students who want to explore additional topics can also ask their instructors for recommendations on specific geology books which might be interesting or beneficial to read. Many geology teachers and professors are happy to provide their students with recommendations, because they want to encourage students to get involved in geology.


If geology books are being purchased as a general reference for someone who is traveling or wants to learn more about geology, asking the staff at a bookstore can be a great way to choose the best books. Bookstore staffers are usually very knowledgeable about their stock, and if they don't know which book to recommend, they will find another staffer who can help. In cases where a book on a specific topic in geology is needed, bookstore staffers can also help, or it may make sense to contact a geologist to ask for recommendations.

Another good source for recommendations on geology books is trade journals, which may include book reviews. People can also research reviews online, looking for reviews on geology sites and reading the reviews on websites which sell books and invite user feedback. Other things which can be used to guide a purchase include searching for specific authors, such as experts in a particular field of geology, or specific publishers who are well known for producing good geology books. As a more general rule, university presses tend to produce the most high quality geology books, although they can get highly technical. Another source for geology books is the bibliography in other books; if a book is particularly interesting or useful, books listed in the bibliography as sources and inspiration may also be good choices to read.

When evaluating potential geology books, people may also want to think about the date of publication and the dates of any revisions. While geology is not necessarily a rapidly evolving field, people are always discovering new information, and once widely-accepted ideas in geology may not be as popular today. A book published in the last 20 years, for example, can generally be a good source, while geology books published 100 years ago may be more interesting as historical curiosities.


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Post 4

@umbra21 - That's one reason I'd recommend that people read a book on the history of geology, rather than just on the facts as we understand them today. In my opinion, the best geology books have a wider context that shows how we've reached the conclusions we have. It provides more of an interesting story, and it also provides historical information that is probably not going to change, even if our understanding of geology itself changes over time.

Post 3

@clintflint - Geology is actually a relatively quick moving subject in terms of discoveries, so I wouldn't go too far back if you want an authoritative textbook. And always double check your facts online. It might seem like the kind of subject that should be well established, since the Earth has been here for us to examine for a long time, but we spent a long time thinking it was only a few thousand years old and that it never changed. We've still got a lot of catching up to do.

Post 2

If you want a basic geology book for reference, or maybe because you want your older kids to learn a bit about geology, you should go to a university secondhand book store and get their basic text from a few years ago. It will be an expensive, full color book with mostly up to date information, but won't be anywhere close to full price, because they update the books every year so students have to get new copies.

The basic text books are never very difficult to follow and often have a variety of different kinds of information, because basic geology is going to be taken by people interested in other subjects, who have to take that one in order to meet requirements.

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