Reviewed by Emma Legge but with input from 10 year old fossil and gem fan Sophie!
Having been an avid fossil and gem collector as a child and now having a ten year old budding geologist in my midst, we were both looking forward to receiving this book. It’s a good size and weight, not the pocket type versions that never quite give you enough information or have enough pictures to make them fully appealing, but neither was it so big and heavy that even the thought of venturing out on your first epic excavation trip makes your back ache! The cover gives you some idea of the photography that is shown throughout the book but the style depicts quite clearly that it is a study book for people already slightly knowledgeable in the subject rather than someone fancying a bit of light reading.
There are just 25 pages of text at the start, serving as an explanation of the intentions of the book, being primarily for new collectors, plus the author includes a few pages of safety while collecting your rocks in ‘the field’, equipment you will need and care for the rocks once you have collected your treasure! This is a lovely, easy read part of the book and while many books may be tempted to waffle into twice as many pages, the author has left the further 250 pages for the important stuff – the striking colour images and technical information on hundreds of rocks, gems and minerals.
Each specimen is beautifully photographed and the quality of the printing almost makes the stones 3D – that’s the exciting bit – with each photograph there is an identification grid, this is all very technical and I will admit was slightly beyond my level of collecting but I’m sure this, for the more experienced collector would be very useful information.
The immediately evident downside is how American the book is – it would be as the Author herself is American, but the values of the specimens are in dollars and the majority of them are found in the USA, Africa and other far flung countries, which would be a problem if this was bought with the intention of collecting direct from the field in the UK! However, it can be used for a reference if simply collecting from suppliers and online so it’s still a useful book that I’m going to enjoy having on my bookshelf.
If grading this just for its stunning photography, I would give it a 5 out of 5 but as I feel it wouldn’t be so useful for someone just starting out on their rock collecting adventure especially as it’s so American centric and at an rrp of £16.99 it would be quite expensive if you, like Sophie, just enjoy collecting gems in every souvenir shop you visit so, I give it a three.
Sophie’s final word on the book was ‘May I take it into the garden to see if I can find some of the stones from the book?’ Hmmm…..in the heart of the West Midlands, that may be doubtful!
Available to buy from Amazon here.