A Sideways Look at Clouds has just been named a Nautilus Award Winner--a silver medal in the Science and Cosmology category. The Nautilus Awards represent "Better Books for a Better World." Of course the clouds make the world a better place (actually a livable place as a well as a gorgeous place) but I'm beyond thrilled to think my book on clouds could help make the world a better place, too.
The core mission of the Nautilus Awards Program is to celebrate and honor books that "support conscious living & green values, high-level wellness, positive social change, and spiritual growth." How can a book about clouds do this?
My book is a hybrid--natural-history, memoir, humor--and encourages every reader to look up and better appreciate the ubiquitous, life-giving, shape-shifting clouds in all their forms. Even the gray blankets that rain and rain and rain. Appreciating the beauty and function of clouds is just one part of my book. Understanding what a cloud is and does takes some grappling with physics, chemistry, and meteorology. What is a cloud? How does it float? What does it tell ups about atmospheric conditions and the weather ahead? What is the role of clouds in the changing global climate? Understanding what a cloud is also means some grappling with what you, the reader, want the clouds to mean.
When I started writing my book, I wasn't interested in studying what kind of weather a certain type of cloud indicated. I was more interested in what would happen if I began looking up and wondering about something I had taken for granted all my life. Why did I know so little about them? Why don't we talk about them? What happened happened over eight years--the forging of a profound, abiding connection to the clouds while also embracing the ephemeral nature of the clouds--of life. The clouds were (and are) for me a source of joy, wonder, comfort, and even solace. As a global natural phenomenon that requires special equipment or access to observe, the generous clouds are there for everyone to explore. There's no cost, no side-effects, no expiration date.
What you'll notice when you start looking up is that...things are looking up.