The Rock’s Birthday: Great Rocks & Minerals in Books & Pop Culture

Posted by Rose Moore

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It’s hard to make rocks and minerals seem cool—despite the name, they just aren’t the "rock" stars of pop culture. In fact, they are often the province of geeks, like when Phoebe reveals to Ross in Friends that she mugged him, when he was a nerdy kid with a backpack sticker that read "Geology Rocks." Or when, even in the nerdy world of The Big Bang Theory, the least cool character is Bert, the socially awkward geologist that the other scientists make fun of.

However, there’s at least one rock’that is the epitome of cool—Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson! The ex-wrestler is the biggest, most popular (and least problematic) of them all. Famous as a WWE wrestler who made it to Hollywood super-stardom, the Rock may be famous for his massive stature and his action movies, but he’s increasingly popular for his wholesome social media posts, too. A total inspiration with a love of cute dogs and jaw-dropping ‘cheat’ meals, the Rock remains our favorite rock of all—we published a book about him, after all—but these others come close!



The Boulder in Indiana Jones

One of the most famous rocks in pop culture isn’t a precious gem, a magic item, or even the subject of the story. It’s the rolling boulder that very nearly proves to be the end of the intrepid archeology professor, Indiana Jones. In one of the most iconic action sequences in film, Raiders of the Lost Ark sees Indy fleeing a temple with a stolen idol (just another Tuesday). Dodging traps and betrayals, he finally escapes only after almost being crushed by a perfectly round rolling boulder. And with that, a rock became one of the stars of the franchise.


Crystal Clear by Jaya Saxena

A book that combines the history and science of gemstones with their popular spiritual associations, Crystal Clear uses these gems as a framework for a series of essays and reflections on how we exist in the world today. A beautiful combination, the book teaches about the makeup and properties of the stones, where they appear in myth and history, and also asks questions about how we perceive their supposed ‘spiritual attributes’ like love, purity, boundaries, and more. This is a book to spark a deeper appreciation of stones—and also of self.

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Books A Million | Bookshop



The Asteroid in Armageddon

Proving that even the boulder than nearly crushed Indy isn’t the scariest rock of all, the asteroid in Armageddon threatens to wipe out the entire planet, not just one intrepid archeologist. The 1998 so-bad-its-good action flick sees a group of rag-tag roughnecks (oil drillers) sent to an asteroid, in a space shuttle, to split it apart and save the world. It may be ridiculous at times, but there’s no doubting that this may be one of the biggest and best rocks in pop culture.


21 Balloons by William Pène du Bois

This classic novel centers on a diamond mine—the largest in the world. Professor William Waterman Sherman discovers the mine, and the people who own it, while wandering around the world in a hot air balloon, thus starting an adventure into riches, secrets, and marvelous inventions. In the utopian society of Krakatoa, this secret mine provides the funds for a society of wild and wonderful inventions and quirky people—but only if they ensure that only a few diamonds are released at a time, to keep the price high! A commentary on the actual state of the diamond industry (where quality is defined and controlled by a single entity), it has often been compared to F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Diamond as Big as the Ritz.

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Books A Million



The Heart of the Ocean

One of the biggest movies in history (by box office take, at least) is about one of the biggest gems in history—a fabulous diamond known as the Heart of the Ocean. In Titanic, it is this diamond (set into an incredible necklace) that sparks a massive operation to dive to the famous sunken cruise ship, and the story told of Rose and Jack, who fell in love aboard it. The diamond necklace is also the center of one of the most controversial scenes in the film, where an elderly Rose, in the end, drops the jewel overboard—infuriating many fans, who felt that doing literally anything else with it would have been a better idea.


All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, All the Light We Cannot See is recognized as a beautiful novel, interweaving stories from the second world war and building them around a single gemstone. This stone, a legendary cursed diamond known as the Sea of Flames connects many of the characters, whether they are searching for it or barely aware of it. In terms of a new take on the trope of the cursed diamond, this is a truly beautiful one.

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Books A Million | Bookshop


Which iconic rocks in pop culture did we miss? Tweet @quirkbooks and let us know.