Reviews of Mineralogy Titles 2012: a Catch-all

I’ve been remiss this year of 2012, for a variety of reasons, in keeping up with writing about new events in mineralogy and mineralogical publishing. This is not helped by the fact that I’ve written a number of articles in drafts, and simply not finished them due to other committments. My ongoing projects pile has grown steadily worse, but the only place that I’ve actually done any regular writing is in my book reviews over on Goodreads, it seems. I’m trying to review everything that I read as I finish it, as an aide memoire for those days in the future when I have no idea what in the hell a book that I know I’ve read might have been about. Since those books reviewed include several publications of possible interest to people who might stumble across this blog, I’ve provided links to my reviews here:


These reviews are strictly off-the-cuff and are based on my opinion immediately after reading or examining these titles. In some cases, particularly in the instance of the book by Peter Zodac, they are a part of my broader question to understand and learn more about something which I find interesting in the world of mineralogy. They also really aren’t intended to sell anything: as far as I am aware, only two of these books are currently in print, although you should be able to find the others on sites like ABEBooks, among others, if you’re genuinely curious.


Roadside Geology of Missouri Published!

Ironically… when I last wrote, it was to briefly rhapsodise on my fondness for the Roadside Geology books. It was a paean, perhaps even a tiny bit of a love letter.

One of the things that has been missing from that series, however, has been a volume for the state in which I reside, Missouri. I have known for a couple of years now that a volume was in the works, but, like trying to see the Ring Nebula in the eyepiece of a six-inch reflector, I assumed that by now, if you looked too hard for it and tried to stare directly at it, the book would remain stubbornly invisible.

Spencer-Roadside Geology of Missouri

Roadside Geology of Missouri, by Charles Spencer. Image Credit: Mountain Press

No more. It’s officially listed on Mountain Press’ website. Don’t just take my word for it: look.

The author, Charles Spencer, is a local consulting geologist and regular fixture at the Kansas City Gem & Mineral Show, among other places. I’ve spoken with him a couple of times about the book, and he was always wryly humorous about the prospect of it ever seeing the light of day. However, now it’s out, and, assuming that it is actually shipping, Roadside Geology of Missouri will be just in time to be a big hit at the Kansas City Gem & Mineral Show, which is just two weeks away.

My copy is already on order, so I haven’t read it yet, but expect a thorough review as soon as I can get my hands on it.

Roadside Geology

Slightly off-topic, but I wanted to write something quickly, since I’m still stuck writing about talc. It’s harder than it looks, this lark.

Following some links and ending up at, I saw something that I hadn’t seen before which made me smile. An imbedded link, for Mountain Press’ long-lived series, Roadside Geology. Awww.

Roadside Geology of Arizona

Roadside Geology of Arizona, published by Mountain Press.

Not wanting to appear to be just a vulgar shill for the publishing industry, let me just say that my memories of these books, with their bright, primary-coloured covers, go back to when I was fairly young, and my father was reading through an early edition – probably of the Arizona volume, if I had to guess. I’ve been around these books for a long time, and have grown to like them very much.

If I had one complaint about the series, it would be summed up in four words: more volumes, more quickly. The volume on Missouri has been promised for at least a year now, with the publication date continually being pushed back. I know that times are difficult, economically, but I’d really like to be able to drive around and read that book (and put a couple of dollars in author Dr Charles Spencer’s pocket, he’s a decent sort who I’ve bumped into for years now at the Kansas City Gem & Mineral Show). It’s also my habit now to pick up volumes, if they’re available, for states that we’re going to drive through on holiday. Last summer, that meant my copy of the Nebraska volume (now oddly out of print, it seems), Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. I may not necessarily read everything in advance, but the books are a great sort of general reference whether you’re planning your trip or find yourself parked along the road somewhere, staring at the cut, and wondering “what the hell is that?”, in that way that the geologically-minded tend to do.

Do you live in a state for which one of the volumes has been published? How useful is it? Is there a better option? I’d like to know, as I suspect that there will be more driving holidays in my future, starting this summer, with a return trip to the San Francisco area that may include one or two lengthy detours…