Specific Rock and Mineral Books
Acquiring books on specific rocks and minerals that you’re interested learning more about can be quite the eye opening experience for the amateur rockhound, such as myself. It provides insight into the complexities of the subjects without generally getting too technical.
Some of these books are hard to find and out of print so you will need to try finding them at the library, eBay, and other used sellers. For more modern titles I have included links to the books on Amazon.
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Title: Collecting Agates and Jaspers of North America by Patti Polk
Review: If you have any interest whatsoever in agates and jasper and if you plan on doing some traveling then this is a good book to have. The author does a really good job showcasing the material that can be found in most of the US states, as well as parts of Canada and Mexico. I like that the author didn’t use museum grade specimens for her examples which seems rare in the world of rock books. Instead she uses good, but still obtainable, rock samples. My only real criticism of the book is that the author lists a price/value of the specimens which was likely inaccurate, even at the time of printing, since the market value of rocks can change very quickly.
Title: Exceptional Cambrian Fossils from Utah: A Window into the Age of Trilobites by Val G. Gunther, Richard A. Robison and Loren E. Babcock
Review: I’m not going to pretend that I know a lot about the subject of trilobite fossils in Utah as it’s not really a subject I have spent extensive time reading about, but I will say that the layout of this book is excellent. One of the things I personally need when reading about fossils is a lot of photos to provide context as to what exactly I’m looking at and to help me interpret what the creature or plant is that I’m looking at. This book does just that. If you want to go trilobite hunting in Utah I would highly recommend this book.
Title: The complete guide to micromounts by Milton L Speckels
Review: I honestly didn’t know what section this review and book listing should be in when I sat down to write it since the process of micromounting a mineral is more of a niche hobby within the world or rock and mineral collection and not really a specific rocks and mineral book. Micromounting is the study and collection of mineral specimens that require magnification to be appreciated. The available literature on the subject of micromounting is really limited, you pretty much have this book and one other one which is very pricey. Despite being 57 years old at this point the book still holds a great deal of very useful information on the subject and the processes laid out in it are pretty much still in use to this day. If you’re at all interested in the world of tiny minerals I would highly recommend you add this title to your collection.
Title: Zeolites of the World by Rudy W. Tschernich
Review: I never had the pleasure of meeting Rudy but his words live on in this masterpiece. I don’t believe it to be a understatement to call this book his magnum opus because it’s absolutely amazing. If you’re interested in the zeolite group of minerals then this is a must have book. The only downside here is the price. I purchased my copy on eBay for $75 and it’s a used library book which was a good deal as it can sell for upwards of $200. I know this puts the book out of reach for many people but not all is lost as you can get a free PDF copy of it on mindat.
The Collector’s Guide Series and Schiffer Publishing
Although I will likely never have all of the books in the Collector’s Guide Series of books by Schiffer Publishing I would still like to recommend all of them since the ones I do have are extremely well done. If the other ones are even half as good as the titles I own, a person would be very happy with them. They have a number of titles on fluorescent minerals and radioactive rocks which look really good.
Title: A Collector’s Guide to the Granite Pegmatite by Vandall T. King
Review: This books starts off by saying “This book is written for the person wanting to know about granite pegmatites in uncomplicated terms and is not intended for the specialist wanting to know all the latest scientific models or theories” and it lives up to that claim. Before having this book my understanding of the pegmatitic process and its associated minerals was extremely basic. This book does such a good job of laying it all out in a very accessible way.
Title: Collector’s Guide to Quartz and Other Silica Minerals by Robert J. Lauf
Review: If you’re interested in silica minerals such as quartz then you will love book. The topic is a big one to tackle, far bigger than can done in this book but the author does a great job of hitting the highlights and showcasing the diversity of the group, which is far bigger than most people realize.
Title: Collector’s Guide to the Mica Group by Robert J. Lauf
Review: The mica group consists of many more minerals than I realized when I first purchased this book. I think a lot of people, at least in the Pacific Northwest, refer to the thin muscovite as mica and leave it there when in actuality the mica group contains 37 different minerals and this book touches on most of them.
Title: Collector’s Guide to the Zeolite Group by Robert J. Lauf
Review: This is a great book with some excellent photos but really if you already have the book Zeolites Of The World or even the PDF you might not need this book. It’s still rather good as it has some really nice photos of the specimens being discussed in it.
Title: Introduction to Radioactive Minerals by Robert J. Lauf
Review: Although this is an introductory book on the subject I felt like it was a little over my head at times and I found myself re-reading sections to grasp the materiel. The author assumes you have a basic knowledge of chemistry, crystallography and geology. I went in to reading this with zero chemistry knowledge. Over all I think the text was good and I did learn a lot from reading it but I think the photos were a bit meh, many of his photos are kinda of dark, a little blurry at times. I can tell that all his photos taken under the microscope were not focused stacked which seems like a big oversight. I would still recommend this title if you are interested in learning more about radioactive minerals.