If a handbook is something to be carried in the field, then Zim's trusty paperback Golden guide is still the handiest; for a how-to companion to Zim, either Simon (1973) or Gallant and Schuberth (1967) would serve better than this latest entry. Shedenhelm ends with a list of 60 common minerals, noting color, luster, streak, and hardness for each, but supplying no pictures, and he suggests copying the information onto 60 take-along cards punched for easy retrieval. But the book hasn't the specialized depth or thematic unity Shedenhelm recommends for a collection. In a sketchy introductory chapter on geological history, he vaguely attributes mineral formation to ""all sorts of interesting conditions of heat and pressure"" that have to do with ""the effect of plate tectonics."" There follows a chapter titled ""Why Some Rocks Are Pretty"" but noting instead what makes them valuable (e.g., rarity); then another suggesting a gold-panning vacation (the technique is easier to demonstrate than to write about, so Shedenhelm's advice is to ask an old hand how to do it); others on tumbling and more advanced jewelry-making processes that require up to $1,000 or more in equipment; and the usual lists--of museums, information sources, and types of minerals found in each state. Shedenhelm's punched-card system could come in handy for those who will take the trouble to prepare it; at best, the rest might serve as a nudge for would-be rockhounds casting about for direction. Additional.