cover image Earth


DK Publishing, Smithsonian Institution, Michael Allaby. DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley), $50 (520pp) ISBN 978-0-7894-9643-0

Visually spectacular, this standout guide to our planet offers a thorough look at the Earth's physical dynamics. Divided into five major sections--Planet Earth, Land, Ocean, Atmosphere and Tectonic Earth--the book explores the planet's environment, weather systems and general physical makeup. The large-format volume begins with the Earth's history and anatomy, featuring pages of stunning photos (one image shows a river of red-hot lava running into the sea), comprehensive layouts and excellent diagrams (e.g., a cut-out of the Earth's structure, from inner core to the chemical composition of its atmosphere). A chapter on rocks explains the many various types of metamorphic and sedentary stones, for instance, while a chapter on rivers and lakes showcases beautiful photos of the endless Amazon, with smaller sidebar photos of the animals that live in the tropics and color-coded maps of the region. Pretty enough to serve as a coffee table book, this volume also contains a tremendous amount of absorbing information.