The Planet In A Pebble by Jan Zalasiewicz

by stephenpalmersf

Having read two of Jan Zalasiewicz’s book before, I had high hopes for this one. The content of Planet In A Pebble is excellent, as before, but the writing style leaves a lot to be desired.

Zalasiewicz is a geologist who has done brilliant work popularising esoteric concepts in geology and palaeontology like mass spectrometry, isotope decay and strata identification. This book takes a single pebble from a Welsh beach and in thirteen chapters describes not only every process leading to its creation but every iota of information that can be extracted from it. In terms of the content, it is fascinating.

But the book is a bit of a struggle to read. At every opportunity Zalasiewicz adds comments in parenthesis or between dashes, 99% of which are either unnecessary, whimsical, or which could be incorporated into a better sentence structure. Usually I’m not bothered by writing style, but this book is in desperate need of an editor to cut out all Zalasiewicz’s clutter. To be fair, some sections are worse than others, but I really noticed it and it really irritated me. Which is a shame, as this is exactly the sort of book I’d like to see doing well.

For content, I would definitely give a 4* rating though.