December 25, 2019

What to Buy a Geologist for Christmas: 2019 Edition

Posted by Evelyn Mervine

A selection of science-themed books on one of my bookshelves.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

I’ve been extremely busy recently and almost didn’t get around to posting my “What to Buy a Geologist for Christmas” list this year. However, I decided that rather than skip the list this year I’ll post a “last minute gift list” that will consist of ten of my favorite geology books… that can be given as e-books, for example through the Kindle store.

So, if you haven’t yet bought a gift for the geologist in your life… feel free to make a last-minute purchase of one of these fabulous books. Or perhaps you’re a geologist who has received an Amazon gift voucher for Christmas, and you’re wondering how to spend your money. In that case, you could purchase one of these books for some perfect holiday reading!

Alternatively, if you still want to buy a physical gift (maybe as a belated gift), check out my lists from previous years:

2010 – Part I

2010 – Part II










Book #1:  

Trilobite: Eyewitness to Evolution

by, Richard Fortey

Image from Amazon.

What geologist doesn’t want to read about trilobites? This excellent book was written by Dr. Richard Fortey, a trilobite expert who also happens to be a very talented writer. Highly recommended!

Available from Amazon here. $13.99 for Kindle.


Book #2: 

The Great Quake: How the Biggest Earthquake in North America Changed Our Understanding of the Planet

by, Henry Fountain

Image from Amazon.

I read this book last year shortly after it was published, and I greatly enjoyed it. The book is about the 1964 Alaska Earthquake, which occurred at a time when plate tectonic theory was being established. The book was written by Henry Fountain, a New York Times writer who focuses on climate change.

Available from Amazon here. $10.99 for Kindle.


Book #3: 

The Hot Topic: What We Can Do About Global Warming

by, Gabrielle Walker and David King

Image from Amazon.

I read this book last year for a “Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation” course that I took as part of my M.Sc. degree in Carbon Management. The book is a little out of date since it was published in 2008 and climate change science moves quickly. However, I still highly recommend it as an easy-to-read overview of the problem of climate change and what we might be able to do about it.

Available from Amazon here. $9.99 for Kindle.


Book #4: 

The Two-Mile Time Machine: Ice Cores, Abrupt Climate Change, and Our Future

by, Richard Alley

Image from Amazon.

I read the first edition of this book many years ago as part of a university course, and I remember being completely swept away by it (to the detriment of some Chemistry II homework, I believe!). This book provides a fascinating look into how scientists learn about past climatic conditions from ice core records. Very highly recommended.

Available from Amazon here. $9.99 for Kindle.


Book #5: 

The Lost Dinosaurs of Egypt

by, William Nothdurft with Josh Smith

Image from Amazon.

This is a fascinating story weaving together two paleontological expeditions to look for dinosaur bones in Egypt. If you like stories about dinosaurs and adventure in the desert you’ll enjoy this book!

Available from Amazon here. $5.99 for Kindle.


Book #6: 


by, Sarah Andrews

Image from GoodReads.

If you enjoy fluffy and fun mystery stories, then you may enjoy the Em Hansen mystery series by Sarah Andrews. Em is a geologist who works in industry (oil & gas, mining) and often encounters mysteries during her work. Tensleep is the first book in the Em Hansen series. Sadly, author Sarah Andrews recently passed away in an airplane crash.

Available from Amazon here. $7.99 for Kindle.


Book #7: 

The Last Giant of Beringia: The Mystery of the Bering Land Bridge

by, Dan O’Neill

Image from Amazon.

I read this book a few years ago when I working up in the Seward Peninsula of Alaska (part of Beringia) in gold exploration. I found a secondhand hardcover copy of the book in a local shop there. This book is about geologist Dave Hopkins, who worked for decades on understanding the geology of Bering Sea region, including finding proof that land bridges existed there during previous glacial periods. This is a good book about a fascinating geologist.

Available from Amazon here. $8.99 for Kindle.


Book #8:

Remarkable Creatures

by, Tracey Chevalier

Image from GoodReads.

This is a novel about Mary Anning, a famous fossil hunter and paleontologist in England in the 1800s. The author is Tracey Chavalier, whose most famous book is Girl with a Pearl Earring. It’s nice to see such a popular author tackle a geology-themed topic.

Available from Amazon here. $13.99 for Kindle.


Book #9:

The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took Measure of the Stars

by, Dava Sobel

Image from Amazon.

Okay, this one is technically more about astronomy than geology, but the two subjects often overlap… and I read it recently and enjoyed it, so I’ve decided to include it. This is one of Dava Sobel’s better books, in my opinion.

Available from Amazon here. $4.99 for Kindle.


Book #10:

Radiogenic Isotope Geochemistry: A Guide for Industry Professionals

by, Bruce Schaefer


I can’t resist including a geochemistry book in this list. Radiogenic isotopes might be a little heavy for holiday reading, but I thought I’d recommend this book nevertheless. This book breaks down radiogenic isotopes, including key systems used for dating rocks, in a way that industry (for example, mining industry) geology professionals can understand, without having to be geochemistry experts. The book focuses on practical aspects of the isotope systems for solving key geological questions. It’s a great book not only for industry professionals but also for any geologists looking to learn a little more isotope geochemistry… and in fact even for geochemists, such as myself, who want a quick and easy-to-follow reference book.

Available from Amazon here. $64.00 for an e-textbook.


Note that the prices above are the ones I saw on the Kindle shop today. Many of the above books are on sale, so snap them up soon at the good prices!

Happy reading, everyone!