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.