100 books like The Hidden Landscape

By Richard Fortey,

Here are 100 books that The Hidden Landscape fans have personally recommended if you like The Hidden Landscape. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Planet in a Pebble: A Journey Into Earth's Deep History

Hettie Judah Author Of Lapidarium: The Secret Lives of Stones

From my list on making you fall in love with stones.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my day job I write about art for British newspapers and magazines. I’m lucky enough to spend a lot of time talking to artists. As a group they’re always one step ahead in identifying important issues and ideas. So Lapidarium has been fuelled by years of conversations with artists exploring geology as a way to think about things like migration, ecology, diaspora, empire, and the human body. The book is also embedded in personal experience. stone artefacts from cities I’ve lived in, from Washington D.C. to Istanbul. I’m never happier than when walking with my dog, so many of the stories in Lapidarium are also rooted in the British landscape.

Hettie's book list on making you fall in love with stones

Hettie Judah Why did Hettie love this book?

A whole book about a single stone? Whaaaaat?

Sure, The Planet in a Pebble is usually filed under ‘popular science’ but with a premise like that, we could also consider it a work of experimental literature.

Zalasiewicz picks up a pebble on a Welsh beach – humble, rounded grey slate intersected by a seam of white quartz – which starts him on a journey back over 4.5 billion years, looking at the minerals of early Earth.

We watch elements of our pebble progress through the rock cycle, eroding from igneous rock, slowly settling in a bacteria-rich bed of sediment within the early ocean before re-lithifying, metamorphosing under intense heat and pressure as mountains are formed by the movement of continental plates, to at last be exposed again and splintered from its mother rock by the force of wind and waves.

By Jan Zalasiewicz,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Planet in a Pebble as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the story of a single pebble. It is just a normal pebble, as you might pick up on holiday - on a beach in Wales, say. Its history, though, carries us into abyssal depths of time, and across the farthest reaches of space.

This is a narrative of the Earth's long and dramatic history, as gleaned from a single pebble. It begins as the pebble-particles form amid unimaginable violence in distal realms of the Universe, in the Big Bang and in supernova explosions and continues amid the construction of the Solar System. Jan Zalasiewicz shows the almost incredible…


Book cover of The Periodic Table

Kathryn Harkup Author Of The Secret Lives of Molecules

From my list on chemistry that aren’t chemistry.

Why am I passionate about this?

After many years of studying the subject and still more writing about it, my mind is still blown away by the fact that pretty much everything around you is a chemical of some kind. Even more impressive to me is that all of the molecules that make up everything you can see, smell, touch, and taste are made from combinations of just a handful of elements. The periodic table is a one-page summary of pretty much everything, the ultimate Lego kit to build a whole universe. I love finding out about and telling the stories of these incredible chemical constructions.

Kathryn's book list on chemistry that aren’t chemistry

Kathryn Harkup Why did Kathryn love this book?

Chemistry saves our lives every second of every day without us usually noticing it. Primo Levi’s personal history with chemistry perhaps saved him from the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

This extraordinary book is a series of snapshots from Levi’s life each linked to a different element. I would recommend reading anything Primo Levi has written, The Periodic Table is just the best place to start.

By Primo Levi, Raymond Rosenthal (translator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Periodic Table as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An extraordinary kind of autobiography in which each of the 21 chapters takes its title and its starting-point from one of the elements in the periodic table. Mingling fact and fiction, science and personal record, history and anecdote, Levi uses his training as an industrial chemist and the terrible years he spent as a prisoner in Auschwitz to illuminate the human condition. Yet this exquisitely lucid text is also humourous and even witty in a way possible only to one who has looked into the abyss.


Book cover of The Volcano Lover: A Romance

Hettie Judah Author Of Lapidarium: The Secret Lives of Stones

From my list on making you fall in love with stones.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my day job I write about art for British newspapers and magazines. I’m lucky enough to spend a lot of time talking to artists. As a group they’re always one step ahead in identifying important issues and ideas. So Lapidarium has been fuelled by years of conversations with artists exploring geology as a way to think about things like migration, ecology, diaspora, empire, and the human body. The book is also embedded in personal experience. stone artefacts from cities I’ve lived in, from Washington D.C. to Istanbul. I’m never happier than when walking with my dog, so many of the stories in Lapidarium are also rooted in the British landscape.

Hettie's book list on making you fall in love with stones

Hettie Judah Why did Hettie love this book?

Sontag’s historic novel focusses on two great romances: the one between Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson and Lady Emma Hamilton, and the other between her husband Sir William Hamilton and the volcano Vesuvius.

Hamilton is the titular ‘volcano lover’ (he also dallied with Etna) who documented the fluctuating moods of the crater with attentive devotion.

He is a fascinating figure – an eighteenth-century diplomat, collector, and connoisseur, he worked at a time when the foundations of modern science were being laid down.

Hamilton’s observations of Vesuvius and the flaming sulphur fields around Naples were recorded in the beautiful Campi Phlegraei.

European men of his time were driven to document, catalogue, name, and impose order on the world, often in a deliberate effort to distance themselves from natural religions and animistic beliefs that prevailed in territories exploited in the colonial era.

Sontag describes Hamilton caught in the balance between the worlds of…

By Susan Sontag,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Volcano Lover as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A historical romance, Sontag's book is based on the lives of Sir William Hamilton, his wife, Emma, and Lord Nelson in the final decades of the eighteenth century. Passionately examining the shape of Western civilization since the Age of Enlightenment, Sontag's novel is an exquisitely detailed picture of revolution, the fate of nature, art and love.


Book cover of The Book of Unconformities: Speculations on Lost Time

Hettie Judah Author Of Lapidarium: The Secret Lives of Stones

From my list on making you fall in love with stones.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my day job I write about art for British newspapers and magazines. I’m lucky enough to spend a lot of time talking to artists. As a group they’re always one step ahead in identifying important issues and ideas. So Lapidarium has been fuelled by years of conversations with artists exploring geology as a way to think about things like migration, ecology, diaspora, empire, and the human body. The book is also embedded in personal experience. stone artefacts from cities I’ve lived in, from Washington D.C. to Istanbul. I’m never happier than when walking with my dog, so many of the stories in Lapidarium are also rooted in the British landscape.

Hettie's book list on making you fall in love with stones

Hettie Judah Why did Hettie love this book?

Raffles explores geology through both a historic and an autobiographical lens.

We might understand the ‘unconformities’ of the title as both unconventional geological formations and members of Raffles’s own family (though I imagine he might question my urge to distinguish between the two.)

The book is episodic, and follows Raffles on his travels to sites of geological and personal significance.

Throughout he also draws out the long history of exploitation bound up in our relationship to the mineral realm, including the removal of iron-rich meteorites from indigenous communities in the arctic circle, and the forced labour of the Glimmerwerke – mica splitting workshops – at Theresienstadt ghetto during the Second World War.

In my book I describe geology as a storytelling science – Raffles is something closer to a poet.

By Hugh Raffles,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Book of Unconformities as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of the acclaimed Insectopedia, a powerful exploration of loss, endurance, and the absences that permeate the present
 
When Hugh Raffles’s two sisters died suddenly within a few weeks of each other, he reached for rocks, stones, and other seemingly solid objects as anchors in a world unmoored, as ways to make sense of these events through stories far larger than his own.
 
A moving, profound, and affirming meditation, The Book of Unconformities is grounded in stories of stones: Neolithic stone circles, Icelandic lava, mica from a Nazi concentration camp, petrified whale blubber in Svalbard, the marble prized…


Book cover of The National Trust Rivers of Britain

Richard Mayon-White Author Of Discovering London's Canals: On foot, by bike or by boat

From my list on the fascinating beauty of English waterways.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love rivers. The flow of water gives a sense of timelessness, the reflection of light from the surface brightens the colours on the banks and the wider stretches make a feeling of space. I have messed about in boats all my life and I am happiest on inland waterways. What I enjoyed as recreation alongside a medical career has grown into a vocation in my retirement. The more people who know about our beautiful rivers, the better the chances that we can protect them from exploitation and carelessness. 

Richard's book list on the fascinating beauty of English waterways

Richard Mayon-White Why did Richard love this book?

This book was sponsored by the National Trust and has the high quality that one expects of that organisation. 

It is a very readable account of the geology and geography of rivers. It has helped me to understand what I see when I look at rivers and it encourages me to go to new places to learn more. Although it was written nearly 40 years ago, it is very relevant to the present times when rivers in many countries suffer from mismanagement of the environment. 

The lovely photographs show how much there is that is worth better care.  

By Richard Muir, Nina Muir,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The National Trust Rivers of Britain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book by Muir, Richard, Muir, Nina


Book cover of Measures for Measure: Geology and the Industrial Revolution

Jude Tresswell Author Of The Refuge Bid

From my list on featuring the lives of coal miners.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write fictional, contemporary gay mysteries, but I prefer to read facts and I enjoy the research that accompanies my storytelling. Industrial history and geology fascinate me, so it isn’t any wonder that I set my tales in the Durham hills of northeast England. As some of my videos in the link show, there are many abandoned quarries, lead and coal mines in the area. I can become emotional when I think about the socio-political history of mining and quarrying. My latest tale reflects my interest in quarrying and my five recommendations reflect a passion that has its roots in the UK’s once thriving, now defunct, coal industry.

Jude's book list on featuring the lives of coal miners

Jude Tresswell Why did Jude love this book?

My sole non-fiction choice. I love the scope of this book: the early engineers and industrialists who were involved, the palaeogeological conditions that made coal deposits possible, the legacy of burning carbon, and, chapter by chapter, a description of most of the coalfields of Britain and the landscapes that resulted. Add poems and songs and paintings and you have a wonderful book. My sole gripe: the illustrations are too tiny. The breadth of content deserves something better.

By Mike Leeder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Measures for Measure as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Measures for Measure features once greatly-disturbed landscapes - now largely reclaimed, physically at least, by post-industrial activity. Yet the surviving machines, buildings and housing of the original Industrial Revolution, founded mostly upon Coal Measures strata, still loom large over many parts of Britain. They do so nowadays in the family-friendly and informative context of industrial museums, reconstructed industrial settlements, preserved landscapes and historic townscapes. Our society and its creative core of literature, visual arts and architecture were profoundly affected by the whole process. The British Carboniferous legacy for wider humankind was profound and permanent, more so with the realisation over…


Book cover of The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology

Sam L. Pfiester Author Of Solomon's Temple: Musjid-i-Suleiman

From my list on earth history.

Why am I passionate about this?

For most of my career as an oil explorationist I have worked with geologists, an exceptional group of men and women who, from observing earth’s surface as it is configured today, can decipher earth’s history. By understanding how rocks were originally formed and how in subsequent millennia rocks have been buried, transported warped, eroded, re-deposited, and altered by high pressures, high temperatures, hot water, and all the tectonic forces of nature that have formed the surface as we see it today, they believe, really believe, that they can visualize the subsurface.  It’s a fascinating four-dimensional detective story. 

Sam's book list on earth history

Sam L. Pfiester Why did Sam love this book?

Winchester’s book is a biography of William Smith, the orphaned son of a village blacksmith. It is the story of one man’s passion, triumph, and tragedy. In his youth Smith was engaged in digging canals in England. Through careful observation of the fossils, he was the first to document the sequential layers of earth’s history. His geologic map, completed in 1815, heralded the beginning of a new science, the science of geology. 

By Simon Winchester,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Map That Changed the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE EXTRAORDINARY TALE OF THE FATHER OF MODERN GEOLOGY

Hidden behind velvet curtains above a stairway in a house in London's Piccadilly is an enormous and beautiful hand-coloured map - the first geological map of anywhere in the world. Its maker was a farmer's son named William Smith. Born in 1769 his life was troubled: he was imprisoned for debt, turned out of his home, his work was plagiarised, his wife went insane and the scientific establishment shunned him.

It was not until 1829, when a Yorkshire aristocrat recognised his genius, that he was returned to London in triumph: The…


Book cover of Restless Earth

Frederick Lin Sutherland Author Of The Volcanic Earth: Volcanoes and Plate Tectonics : Past, Present & Future

From my list on the glories of global geology.

Why am I passionate about this?

My final high school year in Tasmania added a new topic, geology. I and my school friends knew little about it but signed up. In the first lesson, the teacher pointed at the adjacent sunlit river gorge saying “There is your laboratory.” We were hooked and most of us became professional geologists. I started off in museums where mineral, rock, and fossil collections were a font of knowledge and generated field collecting, research, and educational activities. This led to MSc and PhD degrees from universities at both ends of Australia. A base at the Australian Museum led to travel around Australia and visits to many overseas institutions and meetings.

Frederick's book list on the glories of global geology

Frederick Lin Sutherland Why did Frederick love this book?

This book is an awareness alarm for readers to comprehend the ubiquitous array of dynamic natural forces that impact the Earth. In local, regional, or global sweeping events, they need study to predict such happenings in advance and to learn from the aftermath for better future protection. The book shows a selection of events from historical to time of writing and provides gripping reading in seeing nature’s wayward effects in action.

A panel of seven expert writers well versed in these events documents and explains the forces unleashed in the visitations. Dramatic ground, aerial and satellite photography and explanatory diagrams give readers graphic grounding in the vagaries of storms, fires, floods, tsunamis, erosion, landslips, avalanches, volcanic outbursts, earthquakes, impacts from space matter, and even climate changes. 

By Carolinda E. Hill (editor), John G. Agnone (editor), Bonnie S. Lawrence (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Restless Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Featuring more than two hundred color and black-and-white archival photographs, a large-format volume for adult and young adult readers explains the forces behind earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and geological and meteorological activity. 15,000 first printing.


Book cover of Oil Notes

David B. Williams Author Of Stories in Stone: Travels Through Urban Geology

From my list on geology that aren’t really about rocks.

Why am I passionate about this?

For the past two decades, I have written about the intersection of people and place, particularly as viewed through the lens of geology and how it influences our lives. My nine books include Too High and Too Steep: Reshaping Seattle’s Topography, Cairns: Messengers in Stone, and Homewaters: A Human and Natural History of Puget Sound. All of them have a goal of helping people develop a better connection with the natural world around them.

David's book list on geology that aren’t really about rocks

David B. Williams Why did David love this book?

A petroleum geologist working in the American South, Rick Bass writes poetically about the geology, personalities, and challenges of an industry that he clearly loves. I don’t agree with him about how great oil extraction is as an industry and feel that he omitted its downsides but I appreciate his insights, observations, and wonderful prose about the life of a geologist in the field. Plus, rarely will you meet someone so into Classic Coke.

By Rick Bass,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Oil Notes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The author of this book is a development geologist, advising oil companies where to drill and how to assess oil quantitities. The book describes his reflections on life, on nature and the excitement of discovering oil.


Book cover of Life. An Unauthorized Biography. A Natural History of the First Four Thousand Million Years of Life on Earth

Frederick Lin Sutherland Author Of The Volcanic Earth: Volcanoes and Plate Tectonics : Past, Present & Future

From my list on the glories of global geology.

Why am I passionate about this?

My final high school year in Tasmania added a new topic, geology. I and my school friends knew little about it but signed up. In the first lesson, the teacher pointed at the adjacent sunlit river gorge saying “There is your laboratory.” We were hooked and most of us became professional geologists. I started off in museums where mineral, rock, and fossil collections were a font of knowledge and generated field collecting, research, and educational activities. This led to MSc and PhD degrees from universities at both ends of Australia. A base at the Australian Museum led to travel around Australia and visits to many overseas institutions and meetings.

Frederick's book list on the glories of global geology

Frederick Lin Sutherland Why did Frederick love this book?

In this magisterial view of life’s progress, the author, a paleontologist, guides readers through its expansions and setbacks caused by the Earth’s ever-changing geological environments. This is no sterile account. Published in an excellent format, the writer’s travels and studies, and efforts of others, in uncovering past life are supported by vivid writing and splendid images. The book depicts landscape and submarine scenes of fossil finds, the creatures themselves, their relationships, and amazing reconstructions of past collective life scenes. 

In describing life from its primitive start through its explorative passages to human advent, the book opens up and pieces together the grandest story on Earth. 

By Richard Fortey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life. An Unauthorized Biography. A Natural History of the First Four Thousand Million Years of Life on Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A magisterial exploration of the natural history of the first four thousand million years of life on and in the earth, by one of Britain's most dazzling science writers.

What do any of us know about the history of our planet before the arrival of man? Most of us have a dim impression of a swirling mass of dust solidifying to form a volcanic globe, briefly populated by dinosaurs, then by woolly mammoths and finally by our own hairy ancestors. This book, aimed at the curious and intelligent but perhaps mildly uninformed reader, brilliantly dispels such lingering notions forever. At…


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