Regardless of what hobby or interest you’re into, having access to a good book as a resource is almost always recommended. Ok…no. It’s ALWAYS recommended. This is true whether you’re getting into fishing, hiking and even geology.
I’d even argue that it’s more important to have a good geology book on hand than most other hobbies. That’s because a lot of what we learn about in geology…the rocks, minerals, formations and so much more…rely on pictures and illustrations in addition to written descriptions.
And don’t forget that we rockhounds and beginner geologists spend our time outdoors in the field digging, collecting and sorting. And one of the most important rockhounding tools we can have with us as beginners is a resource to help identify the specimens we find.
So I put together this list of the best geology books for beginners. I’m recommending these 5 books, however there are many more really good books out there. I’ve just found that these 5 books were really good in my opinion, and I know you’ll think so too.
The Best Geology Books For Beginners
1. Annals of The Former World
Perhaps one of the best, if not THE best book for beginners to geology. The Annal of The Former World is described as a suspenseful page turner of a book.
Annals of The Former World is actually a collection of 5 books written by the author John McPhee. All five books arewritten as a narrative by the author documenting his own travels across North America and beyond.
This is an enjoyable book that will take you to remote locations around North America, the world, and back into earth’s deep time exploring the beginnings of our landscape, where it came from and where it’s headed.
2. 101 American Geo-Sites You’ve Gotta See (Geology Underfoot)
If you’re a geology buff, rockhound or geo-traveler and want to expand your horizons with well researched and well written geology guide book, you’ll find that 101 American Geo-Sites You’ve Gotta See to be a treasure trove of information that you’ll love.
This book is bound to open your eyes to many more geologically important sites in the United States that you should visit. You’ll be exposed to sites that ordinarily you wouldn’t ever think of visiting.
This is a great geology book for beginners because in it you’ll find a brief overall primer on geology as well as a short history of the Earth. And that’s before you get to dive into the s 101 interesting geo-sites to consider adding to your bucket list.
3. Smithsonian Handbooks: Rocks & Minerals
One of the most important books any beginner geologist or avid rockhound can have in their possession is a good rock and mineral identification guide.
What I really like about this book in particular are the quality of photographs that are included. The book contains pictures of over 500 different rocks and minerals with very detailed descriptions, characteristics, distinguishing features, and much more.
The Smithsonian Handbook: Rocks and Minerals has been well thought out and designed for both beginners and experienced geology buffs and rockhounds as it explains what rocks and minerals are, how they are classified, and how to start a collection.
Filled with information about characteristics, colors, unique attributes, and more, making it one of the best geology books for beginners.
4. Essentials of Geology
This book about geology is actually a college course textbook, but don’t let that scare you away from considering it.
The information that’s contained within its pages is so much more than what you can find elsewhere. It’s simple to digest and takes you step by step through earths history and geology, continually building off of the lessons learned in previous sections of the book.
This book has been used as a University text book for many years for a reason. It’s the authority for beginning geologists. As such, you’ll find that there are many different versions of this book available.
Since not much has changed in geology over the last 50 years, take advantage of the lower prices on older editions of the book.
If you have an interest in geology, then you’ll appreciate this one a lot!
5. Earth’s Evolving Systems: The History of Planet Earth
The final geology book for beginners that I’m adding to this list is another college text book. Again, don’t shy away from these text books! They’re loaded with a ton of great information.
This book explores the complex processes and interactions that have ultimately shaped what is now planet Earth.
In it’s pages you’ll find that this book covers topics such as the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere, and discusses how these systems, plate tectonics, and life have interacted with each other and evolved through time.
I don’t think that you’ll find another book that is capable of closing the gap between traditional historical geology and the behavior of Earth systems.
The same holds true for this book as the other text books I mentioned. If you’re able to find a copy of an earlier edition, you’ll probably be able to save quite a bit of money.