Review by Sid Perkins
Cities may seem like the most artificial places on Earth, yet a close look at massive buildings can reveal troves of natural geological glory. In chapter after fascinating chapter of Stories in Stone, Williams, a geologist, deftly describes the mineralogy and history of some of the world’s most common building materials.
The porosity of marble often renders the stone useless for architecture in cold climates, for example, but many of the world’s most recognizable edifices — including the Parthenon and the Taj Mahal — are made of this luxurious material. Marble’s luminosity contrasts sharply with the chocolate color of brownstone, a sandstone derided by one critic as “the most hideous stone ever quarried.” Still, the material was fashionable: In 1880