Book Review – The Cloudspotter’s Guide



The Cloudspotter’s Guide

by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, Bill Sanderson (2006)

Gavin Pretor-Pinney is the president and founder of The Cloud Appreciation Society, and his first book: The Cloudspotter’s Guide is rather like an official manual for society members. The book is worth reading if only for the society’s manifesto, which begins:

 ‘We believe that clouds are unjustly maligned and that life would be immeasurably poorer without them.’

 Clouds are awesome, magical; fascinating.  We must all at least once have seen dragons, unicorns or even an apple muffin in the shapes of the clouds above us.  Observing clouds can help reduce psychoanalysis bills, stress; depression and other ailments of the human condition. Cloudspotting is free and available to all of us with the gift of sight. This book introduces you to the many different types of cloud family as well as telling you how they are formed and other useful information. It will teach you how to tell what weather to expect, and even how clouds can predict earthquakes. Once you have read the book you can assess your cloud expertise with the included test.

 As well as many fascinating words the book is full of illustrations and diagrams and some gorgeous colour photos in the middle section. The content is scientific, interesting; amusing and very readable. The author’s writing style is witty and uplifting and not in the least bit tome like.  The Cloudspotter’s Guide would make a great gift for almost anyone, from the Geek to the dreamer. It has been said that reading this guide changes people’s behavior, but this is no cause for alarm. As the author says:

 “The humble Cumulus humilis – never hurt a soul.”

 On the contrary, Cumulus, Stratus and Cirrus and their families can enrich your life with their art and poetry.  Join the fight against boring ‘blue-sky thinking’! Just remember keep your head out of the clouds and your eyes on the road when you are driving.