How to Read a Rock:
Our Planet’s Hidden Stories

How to Read a Rock: Our Planet’s Hidden StoriesSmithsonian Books, 2022, 224 pp., Hardcover. $34.95.

Rocks are time machines and the keepers of our history. This guide is a geological field trip through Earth’s incredible rock formations and the stories they hold. Like rings on a tree stump hold the history of the tree, the history of Earth is written in its rocks. This book teaches readers to decipher the rocks all around us, from backyard stones to mountain ranges, and trace Earth’s history layer by layer. Spanning from prehistoric Earth’s shifting continents, to contemporary human impact, to the future surfaces of space exploration, the book reviews a remarkable array of topics, including diamond volcanoes; ancient coastlines, rivers, deserts, and coral reefs; how animals have changed rocks; the making of mud; urban rock strata; humanmade rocks and minerals; the current limestone rock crisis; and technofossils (the footprints humans will leave behind through their material goods). The book’s imagery captures the power, majesty, and history of the planet. Rocks carry the memories of dinosaur landscapes and vanished oceans, show evidence of the greening of the planet and the effect of natural forces, and convey clues on climate and energy consumption. How to Read a Rock unearths the most fascinating stories rocks can tell us, not only about our past, but how the past can help imagine the future.

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