Thursday, December 18, 2014

Book of the Week: This will make you long for a cloudy day

"The Cloud Collectors Handbook" is a new way to look at clouds. The oh-so-fun gist is that you not only learn about clouds and look for them, but you give yourself points for spotting them. The harder-to-find clouds get you more points.

Book of the Week: This will make you long for a cloudy day

Detail from the cover of The Cloud Collector´s Handbook.
Detail from the cover of The Cloud Collector's Handbook.

I spotted "The Cloud Collector's Handbook" in a bin of shamelessly disregarded books near my editor's desk.

I snapped it up. "Mind if I take a look?" "Sure."

What a gem! So even though it's not new on the market -- I DO try to be current -- it's so delightful I had to give it book-of-the-week status.

Published last March, the handbook is a new way to look at clouds. The oh-so-fun gist is that you not only learn about clouds and look for them, but you give yourself points for spotting them.  The harder-to-find clouds get you more points.

Did you know there are nine different kinds of cirrus clouds?

And that cumulonimbus is considered the Godfather of clouds?

The author is Gavin Pretor-Pinney, a Brit who also is founder of The Cloud Appreciation Society, an organization that says it fights "blue-sky thinking." The website is a treat: "We love clouds, we're not ashamed to say it, and we've had enough of people moaning about them." 

They have a cloud calendar, a cloud photo gallery, cloud tea towels, a cloud of the month photo feature -- you get the gist.

But back to the book.

The reviews on Amazon rave about it. One guy found it a way to connect with his 10-year-old grandson. "Enchanted," one woman said. "Keep looking up!" said another. Witty...concise.... And so on.

It's handily small -- for carrying into the field, of course -- but that means some of the photos are small, too. Might need a weather book with better pictures for some of the I.D.s.

But I've found weather books to be awfully dry.  For two years, I lived on a boat and was intensely interested in being able to look up into the sky, see what was going on up there, and project what kind of weather it mean I might run into soon.

Maybe I'm just cloud-challenged, but I could never master it.

Or maybe I just had the wrong book. Maybe now I have the right book.

Note: Book of the Week is a regular feature of the GreenSpace blog.  A caveat is that, with all my other reading, I haven't necessarily read the book that week in its entirety.  But I've sampled it enough to know whether it's intriguing enough to rate a mention.

Sandy Bauers Inquirer GreenSpace Columnist
About this blog

GreenSpace is about environmental issues and green living. Bauers also writes a biweekly GreenSpace column about environmental health issues for the Inquirer’s Sunday “Health” section.

Sandy Bauers is the environment reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where she has worked for more than 20 years as a reporter and editor. She lives in northern Chester County with her husband, two cats, a large vegetable garden and a flock of pet chickens.

Reach Sandy at sbauers@phillynews.com.

Sandy Bauers Inquirer GreenSpace Columnist
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