10 books like The Mountains That Remade America

By Craig H. Jones,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Mountains That Remade America. Shepherd is a community of 8,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Up and Down California in 1860-1864: The Journal of William H. Brewer

Allen F. Glazner Author Of Geology Underfoot in Yosemite National Park

From the list on wandering through California’s geology.

Who am I?

As a boy in southern California, I knew that the mountains were to the north, that they were big, and that they were somehow related to earthquakes. I loved chemistry and the outdoors and decided on the first day of college that geology offered a great way to be an outdoor chemist. I learned the craft of writing in high school as a sports reporter for the local paper. After I started as a geology professor at the University of North Carolina in 1981, Bob Sharp of Caltech and I founded the Geology Underfoot series to get people into the outdoors to discover geology on their own.  

Allen's book list on wandering through California’s geology

Discover why each book is one of Allen's favorite books.

Why did Allen love this book?

The California gold rush of 1849 led to statehood in 1850. Brewer was charged with conducting a geologic survey of this new acquisition, and he led his band on a 14,000 mile trek while the Civil War raged, measuring peaks, finding fossils, cataloging fauna and flora, and visiting mining districts. All this is captured in elegant letters written to his brother. Although trained in agriculture, Brewer was a remarkable observer of nature with fine skills in interpreting the landscape. His uncomplaining accounts of sleeping on the snow in blankets and eating the same plain fare day after day will make modern backpackers cringe.

Up and Down California in 1860-1864

By William H. Brewer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Up and Down California in 1860-1864 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1860 William Brewer, a young Yale-educated teacher of the natural sciences and a recent widower, eagerly accepted an offer from Josiah Whitney to assist in the first geological survey of the state of California. Brewer was not a geologist, but his training in agriculture and botany made him an invaluable member of the team. He traveled more than fourteen thousand miles in the four years he spent in California and spent much of his leisure time writing lively, detailed letters to his brother back East. These warmly affectionate letters, presented here in their entirety, describe the new state in…


The Ends of the World

By Peter Brannen,

Book cover of The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth's Past Mass Extinctions

Michael R. Rampino Author Of Cataclysms: A New Geology for the Twenty-First Century

From the list on mass extinctions of life.

Who am I?

A visit to the American Museum of Natural History when I was seven years old hooked me on dinosaurs and geology in general. I have maintained that passion to uncover the history of the earth with fieldwork on all seven continents, cutting-edge research, and teaching undergraduates to appreciate the implications of our tenancy on the planet, and our place within the solar system, the galaxy, and the wider universe.

Michael's book list on mass extinctions of life

Discover why each book is one of Michael's favorite books.

Why did Michael love this book?

Brannen examines the major mass extinctions in earth’s past and concurrent times of eruptions of massive floods of lava. He introduces us to the front-line researchers who are using the forensic tools of modern geology to uncover the connection between these titanic eruptions and the release of volcanic gases, severe greenhouse warming, ocean stagnation and eventual mass extinctions of life. This leads to the possibility that catastrophes can come from inside as well as outside the earth.

The Ends of the World

By Peter Brannen,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Ends of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A book about one apocalypse - much less five - could have been a daunting read, were it not for the wit, lyricism, and clarity that Peter Brannen brings to every page.' Ed Yong, author of I Contain Multitudes

Apocalypse, now?

Death by fire, ice, poison gas, suffocation, asteroid. At five moments through history life on Earth was dragged to the very edge of extinction.

Now, armed with revolutionary technology, scientists are uncovering clues about what caused these catastrophes. Deep-diving into past worlds of dragonflies the size of seagulls and fishes with guillotines for mouths, they explore how - against…


Salt to Summit

By Daniel Arnold,

Book cover of Salt to Summit: A Vagabond Journey from Death Valley to Mount Whitney

Arthur G. Sylvester Author Of Roadside Geology of Southern California

From the list on exploration of the American West.

Who am I?

I had never been out of a Los Angeles suburb until my high school biology teacher took our class on a river trip running rapids down the Yampa and Green Rivers in Colorado and Utah. The trip was absolutely exhilarating and opened my eyes to the American West and to a career exploring its geology and landscapes. Fifty years and over 300 field trips later, mostly in southern California, I finally learned enough to write Roadside Geology of Southern California. That book was followed by the second editions of Geology Underfoot in Southern California, and Geology Underfoot in Death Valley and Eastern California with co-authors Allen Glazner and Robert Sharp.

Arthur's book list on exploration of the American West

Discover why each book is one of Arthur's favorite books.

Why did Arthur love this book?

Imagine a solo cross-country hike in “the land of little rain” from burning desert floor at Badwater at -282 feet below sea level in Death Valley, the lowest point in the continental United States to chilly, windswept Mount Whitney, the highest point at 14,505 feet above sea level at the crest of the Sierra Nevada. I’ve seen but not hiked much of the country between the two points, and I cannot imagine trekking it all in one hike. Arnold’s book did it vicariously for me and will also for any reader looking for an out-of-the-ordinary hiking adventure.

Salt to Summit

By Daniel Arnold,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Salt to Summit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the depths of Death Valley, Daniel Arnold set out to reach Mount Whitney in a way no road or trail could take him. Anything manmade or designed to make travel easy was out. With a backpack full of water bottles, and the remotest corners of desert before him, he began his toughest test yet of physical and mental endurance.

Badwater Basin sits 282 feet below sea level in Death Valley, the lowest and hottest place in the Western Hemisphere. Mount Whitney rises 14,505 feet above sea level, the highest point in the contiguous United States. Arnold spent seventeen days…


In the Distance

By Hernan Diaz,

Book cover of In the Distance

Alyson Hagy Author Of Boleto

From the list on the West that twist the myth.

Who am I?

I’m a writer fascinated by landscape and history—and the American West is my magnet. I’ve set three books in the West. I can’t get enough of the place. An entire national myth is enshrined “where the deer and the antelope play.” Independence. Freedom from the past. Land we can supposedly call our own. The West is so beautiful and also so scarred. I love to read books that deepen my experience of the deserts, mountains, and rivers. I also love to learn about the people who were here before me, those who have hung on, and those who hope to heal the scars. These books are great stories about a bewitching place.

Alyson's book list on the West that twist the myth

Discover why each book is one of Alyson's favorite books.

Why did Alyson love this book?

Hernán Díaz’s first novel, In the Distance, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. The book is gorgeously written and meticulously researched. The West’s huge, startling landscapes loom on every page. But the real genius here is the novel’s “reverse epic” structure—how Díaz takes a young Swedish immigrant who gets off his ship at the wrong port (San Francisco) and sends him traveling east, against the migrant tides, in search of his brother. The journey doesn’t go as planned. Håkan makes friends and stymies enemies. Stereotypes warp and tumble as Håkan (and the reader) are forever transformed. The descriptions of California gold fields, science expeditions, questing Mormons, and other frontier communities delight and confound. You’ll never cross a Western desert the same way again.

In the Distance

By Hernan Diaz,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked In the Distance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A young Swedish immigrant finds himself penniless and alone in California. The boy travels East in search of his brother, moving on foot against the great current of emigrants pushing West. Driven back again and again, he meets naturalists, criminals, religious fanatics, swindlers, Indians, and lawmen, and his exploits turn him into a legend. Diaz defies the conventions of historical fiction and genre, offering a probing look at the stereotypes that populate our past and a portrait of radical foreignness.

Hernan Diaz is the author of Borges, Between History and Eternity (Bloomsbury 2012), managing editor of RHM, and associate director…


Geology Underfoot in Yosemite National Park

By Allen F. Glazner, Greg M. Stock,

Book cover of Geology Underfoot in Yosemite National Park

Elizabeth Wenk Author Of John Muir Trail: The Essential Guide to Hiking America's Most Famous Trail

From the list on the High Sierra.

Who am I?

Hiking in the Sierra has been equal parts recreation and profession since I’ve been an adult. I’ve worked for the concessionaire in Yosemite Valley, surveyed lakes for rare amphibians, completed a PhD on alpine plants, and, over the past 15 years, written nine books on the Sierra Nevada. I continue to spend every summer obsessively exploring its trails, peaks, and remote lake basins, always excited to see a new view, find a rare flower, or simply see a favorite place in a new light. The rest of the year is spent writing—and reading what others have written, broadening my knowledge about my favorite place on Earth before I set out on the next summer’s adventures.

Elizabeth's book list on the High Sierra

Discover why each book is one of Elizabeth's favorite books.

Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Every step in the Sierra leads you across landscapes shaped by a succession of geologic eventsoverwhelming to comprehend at times. I’ve read and reread this book because it describes not just what you see, but explains, in approachable language, the processes that led to the rocks you see. The book is comprised of as series of vignettes, each focused on a different rock outcrop, formed through a unique process at a particular moment in the Sierra’s geologic history. 

Geology Underfoot in Yosemite National Park

By Allen F. Glazner, Greg M. Stock,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Geology Underfoot in Yosemite National Park as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Few places in the nation rival Yosemite National Park for vertigo-inducing cliffs, plunging waterfalls, and stunning panoramic views of granite peaks. Many of the features that visitors find most tantalizing about Yosemite have unique and compelling geologic stories�tales that continue to unfold today in vivid, often destructive ways. While visiting more than twenty-seven amazing sites, you�ll discover why many of Yosemite�s domes shed rock shells like onion layers, what happens when a volcano erupts under a glacial lake, and why rocks seem to be almost continually tumbling from the region�s cliffs. With a multitude of colorful photos and illustrations, and…


A Most Improbable Journey

By Walter Alvarez,

Book cover of A Most Improbable Journey: A Big History of Our Planet and Ourselves

Lewis Dartnell Author Of Origins: How Earth's History Shaped Human History

From the list on big history.

Who am I?

I’m a science researcher and writer living in London. My research field is astrobiology and the possibility of life on other planets – it brings together lots of different areas of science with engineering and space exploration and so is deeply ‘interdisciplinary’. And as a science writer, I try to bring this same broad perspective and unifying approach to other profound questions. My fascination with understanding our own origins was sparked by my childhood growing up in East Africa, the cradle of humanity. In Origins I explored different ways that planet Earth has influenced our human story across the millennia - it’s an example of ‘Big History’.

Lewis' book list on big history

Discover why each book is one of Lewis' favorite books.

Why did Lewis love this book?

This is a much lesser-known book than the others I’ve picked, and I feel it deserves a load more attention. Walter Alvarez was instrumental to the development of the theory that the dinosaurs were wiped-out by an asteroid impact. Here, he casts his professor-of-geology eye across the whole of Earth’s history to show us the astonishing ways that our world – and the cosmos around us – have nurtured life on the planet and influenced the human story.

A Most Improbable Journey

By Walter Alvarez,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Most Improbable Journey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Big History, the field that integrates traditional historical scholarship with scientific insights to study the full sweep of our universe, has so far been the domain of historians. Famed geologist Walter Alvarez-best known for the "Impact Theory" explaining dinosaur extinction-has instead championed a science-first approach to Big History. Here he wields his unique expertise to give us a new appreciation for the incredible occurrences-from the Big Bang to the formation of supercontinents, the dawn of the Bronze Age, and beyond-that have led to our improbable place in the universe.


Hiking the Grand Canyon's Geology

By Lon Abbott, Terri Cook,

Book cover of Hiking the Grand Canyon's Geology

Who am I?

Since my earliest memories, I have been fascinated with rocks, landscapes, and the movement of time. It was perhaps only fitting then, that I should have landed in the bottom of the Grand Canyon in the 1970s working as a backcountry ranger where I discovered GEOLOGY! Since then, my world view has been shaped by the record of earth history that is held in sedimentary rocks, mountain belts, and the colorful and varied landscapes of the Desert Southwest and Colorado Plateau. I am in love with these landscapes and know them well. This love affair causes me to visit other landscapes around the world and ponder their development. 


Wayne's book list on the geology and magic of the landscapes of the American Southwest and Colorado Plateau

Discover why each book is one of Wayne's favorite books.

Why did Wayne love this book?

Okay, not everyone can hike the steep trails in Grand Canyon. However, you can do the next best thing and learn geology too by reading this wonderfully crafted book. Crisp and engaging writing makes the blisters fade away. The geologic descriptions reflect the most current theories. Nearly all Grand Canyon trails are covered allowing the authors to cover all aspects of the canyon’s geology.

Hiking the Grand Canyon's Geology

By Lon Abbott, Terri Cook,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hiking the Grand Canyon's Geology as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


* Part of the popular Hiking Geology series
* Appendices cover additional geologic information for the non-geologist
* Everything needed to plan the trip, including information about permits, lodging and camping, mule rides, and recommended day trips

Etched on the Grand Canyon's steep walls are stories of how this majestic landscape came to be: volcanic islands, stark deserts, and tranquil seas come and gone, and histories of plants and animals that have made this place their home. You'll see this story up close on the trail with the help of Hiking the Grand Canyon's Geology. In eighteen excursions, there's something…


Book cover of Annals of the Former World

Keith Heyer Meldahl Author Of Rough-Hewn Land: A Geologic Journey from California to the Rocky Mountains

From the list on geology that tell great stories.

Who am I?

When I first crossed the American West nearly 4 decades ago in my ’67 Chevy, it changed my life. I had never imagined mountains built of contorted rock shoved miles into the sky, faults slashing like fresh scars across the landscape, and starkly beautiful deserts where people seemed an afterthought. After many happy years of researching and exploring the West with my geology students, I knew I wanted to tell the story to a larger audience. The result has been three books: Hard Road West, Rough-Hewn Land, and Surf, Sand, and Stone. 

Keith's book list on geology that tell great stories

Discover why each book is one of Keith's favorite books.

Why did Keith love this book?

Every geology book collection should include this Pulitzer Prize-winning classic. McPhee travels with four different U.S. geologists, visiting their outcrops and laboratories while tracing the evolution of geologic thought and discoveries. McPhee has the eye of a scientist, the soul of a poet, and the pen (keyboard?) of a master author. The result is fluid and beautiful writing about science and those who practice it. 

Annals of the Former World

By John McPhee,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Annals of the Former World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Pulitzer Prize-winning view of the continent, across the fortieth parallel and down through 4.6 billion years

Twenty years ago, when John McPhee began his journeys back and forth across the United States, he planned to describe a cross section of North America at about the fortieth parallel and, in the process, come to an understanding not only of the science but of the style of the geologists he traveled with. The structure of the book never changed, but its breadth caused him to complete it in stages, under the overall title Annals of the Former World.

Like the terrain…


Book cover of Geology of the American Southwest: A Journey Through Two Billion Years of Plate-Tectonic History

Who am I?

Since my earliest memories, I have been fascinated with rocks, landscapes, and the movement of time. It was perhaps only fitting then, that I should have landed in the bottom of the Grand Canyon in the 1970s working as a backcountry ranger where I discovered GEOLOGY! Since then, my world view has been shaped by the record of earth history that is held in sedimentary rocks, mountain belts, and the colorful and varied landscapes of the Desert Southwest and Colorado Plateau. I am in love with these landscapes and know them well. This love affair causes me to visit other landscapes around the world and ponder their development. 


Wayne's book list on the geology and magic of the landscapes of the American Southwest and Colorado Plateau

Discover why each book is one of Wayne's favorite books.

Why did Wayne love this book?

Of all the books I am recommending, this might the one that may be a bit more technical for the average reader. But after reading the other four, I think you will be ready for this comprehensive look at the evolution and development of the Southwestern landscape. Baldridge has written the complete reference to how the very ancient rocks play a role in how the modern landscape looks. Most folks I talk to who have read this were very happy they did so.

Geology of the American Southwest

By W. Scott Baldridge,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Geology of the American Southwest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two billion years of Earth history are represented in the rocks and landscape of the Southwest USA, creating natural wonders such as the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, and Death Valley. This region is considered a geologist's 'dream', since its rocks provide a slice through a huge range of Earth history, and provide examples of many of the geologic processes shaping the Earth. For this reason, the region attracts a large number of undergraduate field classes, and amateur geologists. Geology of the American Southwest, first published in 2004, provides a concise and accessible account of the geology of the region, and…


Earthshake

By Lisa Westberg Peters, Cathie Felstead (illustrator),

Book cover of Earthshake: Poems from the Ground Up

Brenda Z. Guiberson Author Of Yours 'Til Niagara Falls

From the list on the fascinating and connected layers of world.

Who am I?

As a writer of dozens of books for children, I always learn much more that can go into each effort. A “wow” moment gets me started. It could be a giant cactus that grows so slowly, frogs that don’t ribbet, maybe a moment with a sea turtle, or thoughts on geology and natural wonders. Each book comes into a hazy focus after tons of research but much gets left out. What goes in? The best “wow” details get woven into an incredible story full of surprise, joy, and admiration for this world of constant change and those struggling to survive.

Brenda's book list on the fascinating and connected layers of world

Discover why each book is one of Brenda's favorite books.

Why did Brenda love this book?

Humor and poetry brought to the natural wonders of earth? Wow! This book has twenty-two poems such as “Recipe for Granite,” “Obituary for a Clam” and “Instructions for the Earth’s Dishwasher.” A favorite is a plea for a glacier, so sluggish and slow. “Just once, when no one is looking, peel out!” The illustrations are bright and fun and the endnotes provide extra information.

Earthshake

By Lisa Westberg Peters, Cathie Felstead (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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


5 book lists we think you will like!

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