Margie's Reviews > Basin and Range

Basin and Range by John McPhee
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Dec 17, 2008

liked it
bookshelves: geoscience, series
Recommended to Margie by: a cast of thousands
Recommended for: rock hounds,
Read in August, 2009 , read count: 1

This would be two-and-half stars, if that were an option.

I very much wanted to love this book. It's been recommended to me multiple times by multiple people, even long before I started working with geologists, long before I held oolites in my hand, or saw an angular unconformity, or got to know Walter Alvarez.

Although I'm not an earth scientist, I'm familiar with most of the ideas in the book, and recognized many of the words. I'm interested in geology. So I was presumably in the target audience - a well-suited reader.

Yet I found much of it incomprehensible. Poetic and interesting, but not understandable. It's too technical to be fully engaging for non-scientists, but doesn't include enough maps or diagrams to be illustrative/educational. And it's probably too travelogue-ish or narrative to be of interest to scientists.

McPhee opens the second chapter by saying that when he took an earth science class as a young person, he let the words go sailing past him like paper airplanes. I got a similar feeling reading his book. I enjoyed the words flowing past me, but would have preferred to be able to catch a ride on that drift.

I'm glad I read it, and will be interested to read another of his books to see how it compares. Overall, though, I'm disappointed.
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Quotes Margie Liked

John McPhee
“I used to sit in class and listen to the terms come floating down the room like paper airplanes.”
John McPhee, Basin and Range


Reading Progress

02/15/2016 marked as: read

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