The natural history and preternatural beauty of clouds.



The Book of Clouds

By John A. Day


This spectacular portfolio of pictures from John A. Day -- who boasted a PhD in cloud physics and was known around the world as "The Cloudman" until his death in 2008 -- introduces us to Earth's vast cream-and-cobalt sky-scape. Simple explanations of how and why clouds form, as well as tips for observing, interpreting, and photographing them, make this an indispensable volume for anyone with his or her head in the...well, you know.



The Invention of Clouds

By Richard Hamblyn


A fascinating study of the shy Quaker and amateur meteorologist who, in the early 19th century, "forged the language of the skies." Drawing on his extensive knowledge of Latin, Luke Howard created the classifications -- cirrus, stratus, cumulus, nimbus -- which are used by scientists to this day. Along the way he inspired countless artists and authors, including Goethe, Coleridge, and J. K. Rowling, with his vision of the aerial landscape.



The Cloudspotter's Guide

By Gavin Pretor-Pinney


Starting from the ground up, Pretor-Pinney takes readers on an entertaining, ascending tour of clouds and their unique shapes and characteristics. Along the way, he shares an array of valuable, instructive, and diverting facts about clouds in history, mythology, pop culture, and the arts.




Atmosphere, Clouds, and Climate

By David Randall


One of the Princeton Primers in Climate, this slim volume offers just the right level of scientific detail -- equations, graphs, and charts that are illuminating rather than intimidating -- to teach readers the basics of the energy cycle on our planet. Whether acting as blankets, sponges, or shields, clouds play important roles in earth's ecosystems, which the author explores before embarking on a deeper consideration of feedbacks involving other atmospheric phenomena.



Isaac's Storm

By Erik Larson


The cyclonic cloud form of the hurricane is an instantly recognizable symbol of the power of nature -- simultaneously beautiful and terrifying. At the dawn of the twentieth century, before satellites and storm-exploring airplanes delivered now-familiar images, men like Isaac Cline thought they understood these massive storm systems, but as the Gulf Coast city of Galveston would tragically discover, the scientific study of tempests was still in its infancy. A riveting work of narrative history from the author of Devil in the White City.

April 18: "[W]ould it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament…?"

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.