Whenever I am handed a book that someone tells me I should read, it feels like a homework assignment.
I am not in school.
I shouldn't have homework.
Moreover, there is a sort of immediacy to the required reading that tends to add stress to the equation, seeing as though the picture is colored by the act of lending.
This book was one of those situations in which a book was handed to me. To add to the reticence with which I undertook this task, the book's subject matter was field geology.
What's got two thumbs and hates science?
Keeping all of these hangups in mind, the book was pretty damned engaging. The prose is not at all dry and actually brings rocks to life. McPhee also manages to tie the history of geology into the book and somehow makes it not only interesting but page-turning.
I would have to say the book was entirely surprising to me, and the tale of the geological evolution of the Earth is told exceptionally well here.