Rain: A Natural and Cultural History (Cynthia Barnett, 2015)


Why did you choose this book?

I haven’t read very many microhistories (histories of one specific object or topic), and I wanted to give an unconventional one a try.  Most of the microhistories I’ve seen focus on things like birth control pills, corn, cotton, paper, water, etc.  Rain is a more abstract idea and an interesting one to tackle.

What’s it about?

All of the ways that rain has played into life.  This ranges from acid rain and climate change to cloud-seeding for warfare.


Nonfiction, science.  It could also be history but the overall feel was more scientific than historical.

Other recommended reads?

There are several microhistories on water.  If you like this then you’ll probably like those as well.


I did learn several things from this book.  I enjoyed the discourse about different phrases used to describe heavy rain, and I learned about the use of cloud-seeding during the Vietnam War.  That being said, it took me nearly three weeks to finish this book (which is unheard of!).  It was a dense, slow read that needed to be broken up across many days.  I didn’t hate it, but I sure didn’t love it either.

Up next?

Pax by Sara Pennypacker



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