The Floating Egg

I just finished reading a charming book on geology by Roger Osborne, The Floating Egg.  Not, as far as I am aware, published in the US:  I picked it up at Brattle Book Shop on my lunch hour (it had somehow made it onto my not-to-be-finished-in-my-lifetime "to read" list, though I don't remember how), while I was actually considering the purchase of Herman Kahn's Cold War classic On Thermonuclear War.  Another day for that one.

It is actually a series of historical vignettes of geology and geologists in Yorkshire, most of them in the 19th century.  He includes many well-chosen excerpts from their writing, and makes up only a few characters, which he points out clearly.  He actually has a gift for fictional scene setting, and might consider writing a novel set in the period.

There are many unedifying squabbles about who owns or can sell plesiosaur fossils taken from the cliffs, an impoverished geologist trying to get money for his collection, a meteor that lands on a colorful character's land, and someone who puzzles out the glacial history of the area.  Excellent for anyone who wants to write a novel with a 19th century geologist as a character.  It may inspire me, though I'd prefer to set it here in New England, where we have our own glacial landscape.