Reviewed: “Rain: A Natural and Cultural History” by Cynthia Barnett

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I think I wanted to ead Rain: A Natural and Cultural History by Cynthia Barnett because of the news coverage of the California droughts. Rain was, is a contemporary and current topic. Then I got the book and it slipped a little low on my to-read list because it seemed so much more… relaxing to read fiction because fiction is much more of a “maybe” than non-fiction.

But I review books and I feel guilty about my to-read list so I cracked open this book.

And it was honestly hard to put it down.

I honestly never expected a book about rain to be so relatable. In hindsight, a slightly closer examination of the extended title would have clued me in. Barnett’s book isn’t just the science of meteorology. Her book is meterology, science, warfare, history, literature, music, perfumes, the development of culture, and so very much more. And I love half of those thing and like the other half.

I haven’t highlighted and written in margins this much since I was in college. Which reminds me that college students should have to read this book, regardless of their majors. I underlined things I wanted to Google, places I’d visit based on Barnett’s descriptions. I told friends and family the facts I learned from the book; Seattle isn’t close to the rainiest city in America, Emily Dickinson probably had Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), windshield wipers were invented and patented by women before Henry Ford stole the idea, the earliest raincoats (mackintosh) involved human urine – just to name a few things.

My favorite moment with the book, though, is probably when fate found me sitting on a blanket in my yard while I read Barnett’s history of how clouds were named; cumulus, nimbus, etc., and I tried to name the clouds in the sky above me.

More than college students should read this book. Everyone should.

(I received an advanced reader’s edtion of Rain: A Natural and Cultural History through Read It Forward in exchange for an honest and original review. All thoughts are my own.)

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