A Book For Our Times

thunder-lightning-cover.jpgThis book just came back to my attention, after reading a review–excerpt after the jump–many moons ago. I am reminded that it looks worth the read; the publisher’s description may prompt a yawn at first, but let it sink in (i.e. a blurb about a book about weather might make your eyes droop just as the thought of seeds in a vault might, until you let that sink in):

In Thunder & Lightning, Lauren Redniss reveals how weather shapes our world and daily lives. She takes readers on a journey from the Biblical flood to the defeat of the Spanish Armada, from the frozen archipelagos of the Arctic Ocean to the ‘absolute desert’ of Atacama, Chile, unearthing surprising stories of savagery, mystery, and wonder. Along the way, she explores the impact of weather on everything from our most personal decisions – Do I need an umbrella today? – to the awesome challenges we face with global climate change.

The result is an uncatagorizable fusion of storytelling and visual art, which grapples with weather in all its dimensions: its past and its future, its danger and its beauty, why it happens, what it feels like, what it means.


An image from Lauren Redniss’s new book, “Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future.” Credit Lauren Redniss, via Random House

Lauren Redniss scored a hit in 2011 with “Radioactive,” a haunting graphic biography of Marie and Pierre Curie that landed on various year-end best lists and became the first graphic novel — and, presumably, the first book with a glow-in-the-dark cover — to be nominated for a National Book Award in nonfiction.

Her extensive research involved lots of physics, not to mention consideration of doomed love and radiation poisoning. So when it came time to think about her next project, Ms. Redniss’s thoughts leaned in a lighter direction.

“I was out walking with a friend, and I said, kiddingly, ‘My next book is going to be about clouds and rainbows,’ ” she recalled recently.

The joke turned out not to be entirely off the mark. Ms. Redniss’s new book, “Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future,” a hard-to-classify melding of text and images to be published on Tuesday by Random House, features all manner of vividly colored skies, as well as polar bears, whales, lemurs, snakes and more than a few weather-preoccupied Homo sapiens, including scientists, inventors (leech barometer, anyone?), lightning-strike survivors and Ben Franklin, who swore by nude “air baths.”

Read the whole review here.

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