Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Cloudspotter's Guide” as Want to Read:
The Cloudspotter's Guide
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Cloudspotter's Guide

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,130 Ratings  ·  152 Reviews
In this humorous and instructive tour of the skies, Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society, argues that we don't appreciate the clouds enough. in Britaon, we are blessed with rich and varied cloudscapes - yet the smallest hint of something white and fluffy on the horizon will cast us into a national depression.

The Cloudspotter's Guide is the inaugu
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published 2006 by Hodder and Staughton
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Cloudspotter's Guide, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Cloudspotter's Guide

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,679)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Nov 19, 2012 Aad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, nonfiction
Beberapa tahun lalu, kami berbaring berdampingan di atas rumput kering di atas sebuah bukit kecil. Kami meneliti dan sesekali menghitung awan ala kadarnya. Sebuah walkman memutar rekaman suara serangga saat musim panas. Rekaman itu dikirim oleh seseorang jauh di seberang sana yang selalu rutin setiap tahun mengirim satu kaset rekaman suara serangga. Kami sudah sering bilang bahwa di negara kami tak ada musim panas, hanya ada hari-hari panas dan gerah sepanjang tahunnya. Tapi orang di seberang it ...more
Sep 25, 2011 Nathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fact
The challenge of science writing is making an abstract description of the motion of water particles relevant to a monkey whose language evolved to tell other monkeys where the ripe fruit is. Pretor-Pinney has managed to do something I'd have bet was impossible: make clouds interesting. Before I read this book, clouds were a mess of undifferentiated Latin words and undifferentiated puffy shit in the sky. Now I look up and see physics made incarnate. It's like I've been given a superpower. Now *th ...more
Feb 11, 2009 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's been a while since I enjoyed a book so much. I was initially attracted by the cover design; once I saw what the book was about, my interest increased somewhat, but was still on the mild side. Once I got a chapter or so in, I was totally hooked: Gavin Pretor-Pinney's passion for his subject is contagious, and he has written what could have been a dry scientific tome with humor and a fine eye for the right stories to tell. However, don't let all this distract from the factual information at h ...more
Jul 29, 2014 Ints rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ieteiktu izlasīt visiem cilvēkiem, kuriem patīk raudzīties mākoņos. Mākoņi nemaz nav tik vienkārši pūkaini radījumi, kādi tie izskatās no apakšas. Viņi ir daudzveidīgi un katrs no viņiem var zinātājam pastāstīt kaut ko par to, kas notiek virs mūsu galvām. Lai ar viņi ir saklasificēti smuki pa plauktiņiem, mākoņu vērotājam iesācējam pietiek tikai paskatīties dabesīs un saprast, ka viss ir daudz sarežģītāk. Debesīs praktiski nekad nav tikai viena tipa mākoņi un reizēm pat ir grūti atšķirt Cumuloni ...more
Frazzock Noir
Jun 24, 2012 Frazzock Noir rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There aren't many books that cause you to behave differently after reading them. For me clouds were always a disappointing sight; they stood as a closing statement to an ecstatic run of beautiful Summer days, or a disappointing ceiling hindering my morning optimism. As soon as I saw them I chose to ostracize and disregard them until they had slipped away silently overnight, but just as ignorance causes us to be suspicious of those we know nothing about, my ignorance of the many forms of water go ...more
Jan 23, 2011 Fatima rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book ranks high amongst those that have influenced my life. I am now constantly looking at clouds, trying to figure out what they are, how they were formed, where they are going, what weather they will cause.
Beautifully written, Pretor-Pinney makes poetry out of clouds; he waxes eloquently on a subject he is clearly intensely passionate about. To make that passion so infectious is a gift.

I am a geographer, also passionate about much of earth science, and have read many books on a range of
Molly Christensen
May 21, 2010 Molly Christensen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is how I wish ALL science books were written. Incredibly fascinating info with all the history and culture and the difficult science principles were explained very clearly. I only gave it 4 stars simply because it took me a really long time to read (had to think a lot more than usual!)
Book Soup
Apr 01, 2009 Book Soup rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good stuff, but tricky to put down and pick up. If I had a solid chunk of time to luxuriate in this, I am sure it would be 4 stars. Great information interspersed with engaging stories connected to clouds. I am still plowing along with great satisfaction.

Sam Barry
Oct 15, 2010 Sam Barry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books you didn't think you wanted to or needed to read, but once you have, you're glad you did.
Jan 08, 2010 Siri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hey, I finally finished this book! It's been my bathroom read for, year?

So *mild spoiler* on p. 261 of this paperback, there is a picture of a bunch of scientists from General Electric labs (circa 1946) peering over a cloud seeding chamber. One of them, the book casually mentions, is named Bernard Vonnegut. If you're like me, part of you continues reading, and the other part of your brain goes, "*Bernard* Vonnegut?! And he looks like Kurt Vonnegut! I wonder if they're related!" Well,
Juliet Wilson
Nov 14, 2012 Juliet Wilson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature
This book takes each cloud type in turn and gives the details of what it typically looks like, where and when it can found and what type of precipitation (snow, heavy rain, hail, drizzle etc) it gives rise to. It also outlines some tips on weather forecasting by describing how one type of cloud can become another.

Alongside all the science the author makes it clear that clouds are to be appreciated for their beauty (apart perhaps from stratus, the low, dull, misty cloud that even the most ardent
Aug 31, 2007 dirt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who can look up
"Clouds are nature's poetry, and the most egalitarian of her displays, since everyone can have a fantastic view of them," remarks Gavin Pretor-Pinney in the Cloudspotter's Guide. Pretor-Pinney is founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society and cofounder of Idler magazine. What better way to idle time away than looking up at the sky?

This book delves in everything cloud related. The author explores how clouds have been viewed differently throughout history and across cultures as well as the science
Steve Mitchell
Aug 17, 2011 Steve Mitchell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a delightful little book that is written in such an enthusiastic fashion that anybody could enjoy Gavin Pretor-Pinney’s prose; not just members of the Cloud Appreciation Society. The science portions of the book are centred on humorous anecdotes tenuously linked to the subject matter so that any layman will not get buried in a landslide of facts, figures and equations. Some of the portions of this book are seriously laugh out loud funny. The format of the book makes it an ideal candidate ...more
The Cloudspotter's Guide is not only a walkthrough of the different types of clouds with their related optical phenomena, it is also a rich collection of anecdotes and "fun facts" related to the weather. Gavin Pretor-Pinney writes humorous and metaphorical, making it much easier for the reader to remember all the details. As a paragliding pilot I found the chapters on cumulus, cumulonimbus and altocumulus clouds particularly interesting - not to mention the rare phenomenon "The Morning Glory", w ...more
Jun 10, 2008 sisterimapoet rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction08
I took my time over this book because I wanted to savour it. I wanted to read it on afternoons where there were clouds in the sky, easier enough in England, but hard on some days to find some sky to go with those clouds.

This book was given to me by a dear friend with scientific fascination. I can’t say now that I have finished the book that I can accurately identify all the different clouds. And I couldn’t tell you precisely how each is formed. But I have gained a great appreciation for their va
Amanda Wilson
Mar 23, 2014 Amanda Wilson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: info-gathering
Imagine you are me, just for a moment, rambling around Half Price Books looking for some new and exciting book to read. At the time I was in the mood for something science related, low and behold I find The Cloudspotter's Guide! This book is a work of sarcastic genius, it takes a subject that a lot of people probably don't care about and makes it really interesting. I love Meteorology, but do on many occasions get frustrated by dry, scientific, texts. This book combines the author's love of clou ...more
Jul 11, 2015 Adam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Perfect book to read outside under the clouds.
Sep 14, 2014 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book, definitely full of fun information about the sky and clouds, and surprisingly laugh out loud funny! Plus it is a book that applies to everyday life, right? You read a chapter and then head out into the world and the sky and if you look up, there is a chance that what you just read about will be above you. I have to admit I would have to study a bit more to really be able to name all the clouds. But cloud watching is contagious! My favorite conversion story is sitting in a Lond ...more
Aug 26, 2015 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a great book about cloud appreciation and how to identify various types of clouds. The descriptions of how the clouds form and their effect on the weather are both easy to follow and entertaining to read. There is a separate chapter for each of the 10 main cloud types with pictures of various species, scientific info, and tips for identification. Further chapters discuss supplementary cloud features, contrails, and cloud seeding. Filled with references to culture and history relating to ...more
Mar 26, 2009 christina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yes, the lack of color plates is distressing. However Gavin Pretor- Pinney's writing on clouds is so engaging and obviously heartfelt that I am changing my rating to five stars.

I am composing a letter to Mr. Pretor- Pinney's in my mind about the low lying stratus cloud that are a true cloud lovers nemesis. The anti-cloud watching cloud indeed!
Singleton Mosby
A wonderfull introduction into the world of cloud-spotting.
Feb 16, 2014 Leesmenu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Soms zijn er zo van die boeken die erin slagen u anders of harder te doen nadenken over bepaalde zaken of u dingen te doen voelen die u in het gewone leven zelden voelt – op road trip willen gaan na het lezen van On The Road, bijvoorbeeld. Nog zeldzamer zijn die boeken die uw ogen kunnen openen voor de meest banale der dingen als had u ze nog nooit eerder gezien, en u zo de wereld op een rijkere en meer bevredigende manier doen ervaren. The Cloudspotter's Guide van Gavin Pretor-Pinney, een boek ...more
Karen Zak
Feb 08, 2014 Karen Zak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great book to learn how to identify clouds and determine what sort of weather patterns they might mean. i learned a lot. My only frustration was trying to translate it all into my area in Colorado starting at 5,000 feet in elevation. Sure wish there was a comparable book for us "Yanks" in America. The best thing I learned from this book was about roll clouds, which are described in the latter part of the book in great detail with amazing photos. They were so intriguing I had to look t ...more
Sep 29, 2015 Rossdavidh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: green
So, this is a book about clouds. Really. With a chapter each on Cumulus, Cumulonimbus, Stratus, Stratocumulus, Altocumulus...there's a lot of latin, actually. And a lot of dry humor. And not a few puns. This has got to be the all-time geekiest book I have ever read.

Ok, so some of it is not quite as geeky. For example, the story of Lt.-Col. William Rankin, the only human to fall all 47,000 feet through a full-on, cumulonimbus thunderstorm full of rain, hail, and lightning, and survive. The part w
Oct 26, 2013 Paul rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 ente
Dec 05, 2012 Lorena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have always had an affinity for clouds. I can remember summer days spent lazily staring up at the sky and watching the clouds roll by wondering what they must feel like. When a friend commented that he shared the same affinity and had read a fascinating book about clouds I was intrigued. Clouds are clouds, I thought. How complicated can they be? He lent me the book and thus I am writing this review. All I can say is that I truly did not know that clouds were complicated and so diverse. I had t ...more
Stephanie verzelen
Any book that can make you see or think about things profoundly differently is a special one, but a book that can open your eyes to the most ordinary of things and show you a new way of looking at them and in doing so can make your experience of the world so much richer and so much more satisfying? Holy damn, that's the specialest of books. The Cloudspotter's Guide is essentially what its title suggests - a guide for spotters of clouds(Which is a thing, apparently. There's even an actual Cloud A ...more
Sep 29, 2015 Kazen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I come at this book from a different perspective than most, as I was lucky enough to take a meteorology class in high school and have had a long fascination with the weather. As a result the book felt uneven - boring in some parts, scarily filled with Latin in others (I kept thinking I would be tested on every sub-type of cloud, darn class), and delightful in yet others. My favorite parts were the cloud-adjacent stories like attempts to control the weather and how contrails contribute to global ...more
Dec 29, 2014 Jasper rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The poor attempts at being funny are successful only once in a while.
The random stories in each chapter starring a particular type of cloud are particularly uneventful and boring. It feels as if the author had to go great lengths to find cloud facts and cloud trivia worth mentioning, but in the end, really, I couldn't be bothered that this second-rate renaissance painter painted an altocumulus lenticularis in one of his otherwise unknown paintings 300 years ago; nor did it strike me as memorable
Sep 23, 2007 Abby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with a mild curiosity about the science of clouds
I received this book as a birthday present from a friend and wasn't sure that I would really be interested enough to read it, but gave it a try anyway. The book turned out to be much more interesting than I thought it would be. The author takes a layman's approach to explaining the various types of clouds. The book is filled with funny and useful analogies to help identify and remember different cloud types and what role they play with the weather. It's also filled with interesting anecdotes ran ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 89 90 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Amazing Rare Things: The Art of Natural History in the Age of Discovery
  • The Tree: A Natural History of What Trees Are, How They Live & Why They Matter
  • Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses
  • The Trees in My Forest
  • Reading the Forested Landscape: A Natural History of New England
  • Mapping the Deep: The Extraordinary Story of Ocean Science
  • The Flight of the Iguana: A Sidelong View of Science and Nature
  • Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You
  • The Emerald Planet: How Plants Changed Earth's History
  • Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution
  • Under the Sea Wind
  • Map Of A Nation
  • Eating Stone: Imagination and the Loss of the Wild
  • Thousand-Mile Song: Whale Music In a Sea of Sound
  • Collins Bird Guide
  • The Rarest of the Rare: The Stories Behind the Harvard Museum of Natural History
  • Time
  • The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America
Gavin Pretor-Pinney is cofounder of The Idler magazine in England, and founder of The Cloud Appreciation Society. (
More about Gavin Pretor-Pinney...

Share This Book

“We pledge to fight 'blue-sky thinking wherever we find it. Life would be dull if we had to look up at cloudless monotony day after day.” 15 likes
“The humble Cumulus humilis - never hurt a soul.” 14 likes
More quotes…