Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Rain by Cynthia Barnett

I really liked this book. I live in western Washington, north of Seattle, the “rain city.” So when I had the opportunity to review this book, I was happy to do so. I was not disappointed.

This book contains everything you might want (and not want) to know about rain. She covers the role of rain in history, rain and religion, the development of weather forecasting, how clouds got their names (and the origin of being on Cloud Nine), the development of the weather report on television, rain gear, rain and the colonists, architecture and rain, flooding rivers and breaking levees, attempts to cause rain, music and poetry and novels and movies about rain, the scent of rain, strange rain, how rain is a part a global system, and the future of rain.

The author has interspersed her facts about rain with stories about her own adventures relating to rain. They helped break up reading information about rain and were generally interesting. I have to admit that I often skipped paragraphs of these accounts, anxious to get back to the facts.

There were a couple aspects of the book that I particularly enjoyed. One was about rain and cities. She writes about Los Angeles, the paved over land and how rain is channeled via concrete into the ocean. People don't want to be in the ocean after a rainstorm because of the plastic bottles, oil from cars, and other junk in the water. She also writes about innovative ways some cities are trying to keep as much rain as possible in the natural hydrological cycle. Many urbanites are learning to live in harmony with rain, especially in places like Seattle.

And that brings me to my other favorite part of the book. I am glad she set the record straight about supposedly “rainy” Seattle, which receives just a little more rain than the national average. She writes about the Hoh Rain Forest on the west side of the Olympic Mountains that does get nearly two hundred inches of rain. But there is also the Olympic rain shadow, where I live, receiving under twenty one inches a year.

I really enjoyed this book. I found out how necessary rain is and how its distribution is certainly changing. I've always loved the soothing nature of the sound of rain and this book helped me understand that affection. I recommend it to anyone enamored with rain and wanting to understand it more.

Cynthia Barnett is an award-winning environmental journalist who has reported on fresh water from the Suwannee River to Singapore. She has two previous books. She and her husband,with their two children, live in Gainesville, Florida, where she teaches environmental journalism at UF. Find out more at

Crown Publishing, 368 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

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