The Cloudspotter's Guide, Paperback
4 out of 5 (4 ratings)


'The clouds are nature's poetry, and the most egalitarian of her displays, since everyone has an equally fantastic view of them.

Clouds are for dreamers, and their contemplation benefits the soul.

Yet their beauty is so everyday as to be in danger of being overlooked ...' Gavin Pretor Pinney is the chairman and founder member of the Cloud Appreciation Society.

He contends that we are blessed in this country with a uniquely rich and varied cloudscape, which has hitherto been sadly undervalued.

His book teaches us to appreciate their different varieties - the cumulus, nimbostratus and Morning Glory to name only a few - and all their beauties and significances, both meteorological and cultural.

We learn how Hindus believed the cumulus clouds were the spiritual cousins of elephants, how thermal air currents act on fair weather cumuli, and how to save a fortune in psychiatric bills by using the clouds as Rorschach images that reflect our state of mind as well as nature's moods. Looking up will never be the same again.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320 pages, b&w throughout
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Weather
  • ISBN: 9780340895900



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Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.

Review by

Not my usual kind of read, but it was actually quite interesting and I learnt lots about different clouds.

Review by

I loved this book so much it made me a cloud photographer. Instead of driving "blindly" into town, my visor is up and I am constantly hitting the brakes to leap out of the car and catch the image. Don't panic, I live in the Australian countryside and rarely come across other vehicles until near the town! My profile photo is one I took across our farm paddocks called Sky Poetry.For countryfolk weather is vital, so learning about the clouds and their impact on rain was excellent knowledge and apart from the b & w pictures, the info Gavin has put together is entertaining and educational. I was really interested in his comments on con-trails and their potential to change the formation of rain clouds.A really good read. Among my favourite long-term books.

Review by

This book took me by surprise: I had asked my son for, 'the Cloud Collector's Handbook', for my birthday last year. Being a generous lad, he bought me both the desired tome and this one. I pawed through the Collector's Handbook, but rather unfeelingly, neglected this opus. It has sat upon my shelf starring at me reproachfully since last July and so, I eventually conceded and took it down to rifle through it, as I thought, in an afternoon. How wrong can a chap be? This book is packed with information, not just about cloud formations, where and how they occur, but with fascinating details of references to them in classical literature. I spent a thoroughly enjoyable three days reading it and, I shall return to remind myself of some of the information which I shall doubtless forget over time.

Review by

The Cloudspotter's Guide is an interesting premise, and one that I hoped would equip me ably to glance heavenwards and confidently see what was what, working as I do outdoors in all weathers - and yes - even perhaps "amaze my friends" (as neat tricks in my childhood always promised)!The book starts well: copiously illustrated and nicely laid out with good summary introductions of each major cloud type encountered chapter by chapter. The author's style is necessarily informative and somewhat entertaining, though this latter trait becomes a trifle tiresome in places as I got the impression he was trying just a bit too hard to be funny. I enjoyed these early chapters (on the low altitude clouds) as I genuinely felt I was learning something (as was my hope) and the subject matter was all quite digestible. But as I progressed through the book, I felt by the midway point that it was all becoming a bit of a blur. I felt bogged down with the confusing explanations of physics, and convection, and.... other stuff. It seems that one cloud began to roll into another, and I found it challenging to tell my Nimbostratus from my Stratocumulus. I think it's probably me - physics and chemistry were never my strongest subjects, and pretty much all of the science I've learnt as an adult has been tree-related. (But I have read popular science books with trees as the main subject matter that were well-written and not toobamboozling... So I know it can be done.) Finding myself becoming bored with the book, I've abandoned it to the bathroom window sill, where it will doubtless remain until our next epic storm or other freak weather event pushes me to reconsider just why Cumulonimbus occur!