10 books like The Story of Earth

By Robert M. Hazen,

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

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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 The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of Their Lost World

Michael J. Benton Author Of Dinosaurs: New Visions of a Lost World

From the list on dinosaurs from a palaeontologist.

Who am I?

I’ve been mad about dinosaurs and ancient life since I was seven. I have been amazingly lucky to be able to develop a career as a professional palaeontologist and to be able to research and talk about the subject. We were first to show the original colours of dinosaur feathers, and this discovery provides a perfect way to open the discussion about how palaeontologists know what they say they know. In my books, I seek to amaze, amuse and inform. I have written many books, including pop science, textbooks, technical-scientific works, and books for children, and every year brings new discoveries to be transmitted to the world.

Michael's book list on dinosaurs from a palaeontologist

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

Why did Michael love this book?

The best seller of all time, a lively romp through dinosaur research (and researchers). This is for all readers, and you’ll be hooked by the lively, pacy text by Steve, as he hurtles from continent to continent, digging up bones from China to Poland, working on Tyrannosaurus rex and other great beasts in the basements of the world’s museums, and sharing with readers what it’s like to be a working paleontologist. For aspiring young bone-diggers, this is an inspiration, although it’s not like this all the time: paleontologists also sometimes have to mark student essays and fight with university systems to get their field trip costs refunded!

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

By Steve Brusatte,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Times Science Book of the Year.
A Sunday Times Bestseller.

66 million years ago the dinosaurs were wiped from the face of the earth. Today, Dr. Steve Brusatte, one of the leading scientists of a new generation of dinosaur hunters, armed with cutting edge technology, is piecing together the complete story of how the dinosaurs ruled the earth for 150 million years.

The world of the dinosaurs has fascinated on book and screen for decades - from early science fiction classics like The Lost World, to Godzilla terrorizing the streets of Tokyo, and the monsters of Jurassic Park. But…


Earthquake Storms

By John Dvorak,

Book cover of Earthquake Storms: The Fascinating History and Volatile Future of the San Andreas Fault

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?

The title is a bit misleading. This book is more of a history of thinking and discovery about seismology—the study of earthquakes—with a focus on the San Andreas fault. What I like best is how Dvorak weaves the personal stories of scientists into the geologic story. Too often in textbooks and general-audience books, scientists don’t exist as human beings with foibles, preconceptions, and occasional bursts of insight. I wish that other books presented the human side of science as effectively as Dvorak. 

Earthquake Storms

By John Dvorak,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of A Short History of Nearly Everything

James G.S. Clawson Author Of A Song of Humanity: A Science-Based Alternative to the World's Scriptures

From the list on science vs. religion.

Who am I?

My core curiosity has been trying to understand the way the world is. Like all defenseless children, early on I trusted parents and elder others for that – for nearly half a century before I had the courage to question their comprehensive dogmas. I’ve been fortunate to have a wonderful education and to have traveled most of the globe, both of which assailed my assumptions. After a mid-life crisis/near-death experience, I decided to start over in understanding the world we live in. Before I died, I wanted to leave a science-based alternative to the world’s scriptures that open-minded parents could read to their children. My motto now is “In Truth We Trust.”  

James' book list on science vs. religion

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

Why did James love this book?

This is a very good attempt to help inform people of where we came from and how we got here. I love the broad perspective and easy flow of the story. Bryson attacks the big questions and stimulates our thinking. This is a great starting point for exploring the issues in the tensions between science and religion. 

A Short History of Nearly Everything

By Bill Bryson,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked A Short History of Nearly Everything as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The ultimate eye-opening journey through time and space, A Short History of Nearly Everything is the biggest-selling popular science book of the 21st century and has sold over 2 million copies.

'Possibly the best scientific primer ever published.' Economist
'Truly impressive...It's hard to imagine a better rough guide to science.' Guardian
'A travelogue of science, with a witty, engaging, and well-informed guide' The Times

Bill Bryson describes himself as a reluctant traveller, but even when he stays safely at home he can't contain his curiosity about the world around him. A Short History of Nearly Everything is his quest to…


Book cover of Children's Encyclopedia of Earth

Robert R. Coenraads Author Of Rocks and Fossils: A Visual Guide

From the list on our planet’s geological wonders.

Who am I?

I‘m a Sydney-based exploration geologist and science writer, travelling the world in search of gold, exotic metals, gemstones, and the stories they have to tell — writing is my tool to bring alive ideas and concepts important to me, and my popular books include Rocks, Fossils and Dinosaurs; Natural Disasters; and Geologica. Working in the world's poorest regions has also sparked a strong humanitarian interest. I'm the founding president of FreeSchools World Literacy – Australia, a charity dedicated to education of underprivileged children, and towards which earnings from my writing go. It is my belief that education for all, not just a privileged few, is key to solving the world's problems. 

Robert's book list on our planet’s geological wonders

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

Why did Robert love this book?

This book stands as one of the last great paper encyclopedias created for children in this day and age of digital searches, and that is what I love about it. As you leaf through its pages, it is reminiscent of turning the stone pages of our own planet’s 4.6 billion-year-old story, featuring the evolution of life, culminating in us! This beautifully illustrated and written encyclopedia presents the most up-to-date information about planet Earth in a style and format designed for children, but which will appeal to a wide range of readers. With hundreds of photographs, illustrations, diagrams, and maps, it presents an impressive overview of our globe—beginning with the history of the universe and ending with today's conservation issues. A truly spectacular reference. 

Children's Encyclopedia of Earth

By Michael Allaby,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How do twisters form? What makes lightening strike? Why are tropical rain forests the lungs of our planet? Curious kids want to know everything about their planet. They’ll find the answers to their questions here, as they investigate our world from its core to its cosmic connections.


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.


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.


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 the list on the glories of global geology.

Who am I?

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

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

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. 

Life. An Unauthorized Biography. A Natural History of the First Four Thousand Million Years of Life 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…


A Geologist Speculates

By John M. Saul,

Book cover of A Geologist Speculates

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

From the list on the glories of global geology.

Who am I?

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

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

Why did Frederick love this book?

Here, a seasoned geologist gathers several themes of his research interests, poses critical questions on apparent anomalies within them, and considers their resolution. He does this by giving free rein to informed lateral thinking on these topics. This produces an unusual book in the annals of geological writing, presenting thought-provoking and rewarding reading.

The thematic chapters are written in a fluent expression of the concepts involved, reinforced through a range of illustrative means. There are superb photographs of gems, minerals, and rocks as specimens and rocky exposures from many sources. Geological diagrams underpin explanations, superimposed maps highlight large-scale geological structures, and even images of paintings, historical scenes, postcards, and stamps reinforce particular points. The closing sections enter the realms of life on Earth, seen as coordinated biological and geological evolution. 

A Geologist Speculates

By John M. Saul,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How did the Earth get its gemstones? · How did the Earth get its oil and gas? · What happened to the Earth's moonlike impact craters? · Why did it take 80% of the Earth's history for complex animals to emerge? · Do Darwinian principles apply to absolutely all creatures?


Principles of Geology

By Sir Charles Lyell,

Book cover of Principles of Geology

Robert M. Hazen Author Of The Story of Earth: The First 4.5 Billion Years, from Stardust to Living Planet

From the list on planet Earth.

Who am I?

Robert M. Hazen, Senior Staff Scientist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Earth and Planets Laboratory and the Clarence Robinson Professor of Earth Science at George Mason University, received the B.S. and S.M. in geology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Ph.D. at Harvard University in Earth science. His most recent book is The Story of Earth: The First 4.5 Billion Years from Stardust to Living Planet, which explores the intricate coevolution of the geosphere and biosphere.

Robert's book list on planet Earth

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

Why did Robert love this book?

Lyell’s Principles, though published almost 190 years ago, is a masterful argument for the veracity of deep time. Drawing on his skills as a lawyer as much as his scientific perceptions, Lyell lays out the case for the power of gradual processes operating over vast expanses of time to change the face of our planet. His lucid, compelling case that “the present is key to the past” greatly influenced many subsequent discoveries, including Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. And, happily, various editions are freely available in facsimile on the web.

Principles of Geology

By Sir Charles Lyell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the key works in the nineteenth-century battle between science and Scripture, Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology (1830-33) sought to explain the geological state of the modern Earth by considering the long-term effects of observable natural phenomena. Written with clarity and a dazzling intellectual passion, it is both a seminal work of modern geology and a compelling precursor to Darwinism, exploring the evidence for radical changes in climate and geography across the ages and speculating on the progressive development of life. A profound influence on Darwin, Principles of Geology also captured the imagination of contemporaries such as Melville, Emerson,…


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