REVIEW: Looking Up: The True Adventures of a Storm-Chasing Weather Nerd by Matthew Cappucci
An energetic and electrifying narrative about all things weather—by one of today’s rising meteorological stars.
Get in—we’re going storm-chasing!
Imagine a very cool weather nerd has just pulled up to you and yelled this out the window of his custom-built armored storm-chasing truck. The wind is whipping around, he’s munching on Wawa, it’s all very chaotic—yet as you look into his grinning face, you feel the greatest surge of adrenaline you have ever felt in your life. Hallelujah: your cavalry is here!
Welcome to the brilliance of Looking Up, the lively new book from rising meterology star Matthew Cappucci. He’s a meteorologist for The Washington Post, and you might think of him as Doogie Howser meets Bill Paxton from Twister, with a dash of Leonardo DiCaprio from Catch Me If You Can. A self-proclaimed weather nerd, at the age of fourteen he talked his way into delivering a presentation on waterspouts at the American Meteorological Society’s annual broadcast conference by fudging his age on the application and created his own major on weather science while an undergrad at Harvard.
Combining reportage and accessible science with personal storytelling and infectious enthusiasm, Looking Up is a riveting ride through the state of our weather and a touching story about parents and mentors helping a budding scientist achieve his improbable dreams. Throughout, readers get a tutorial on the basics of weather science and the impact of the climate.
As our country’s leaders sound the alarm on climate change, few people have as close a view to how serious the situation actually is than those whose job is to follow the weather, which is the daily dose of climate we interact with and experience every day.
The weather affects every aspect of our lives (even our art) as well as our future. The way we think about it requires a whole-life overhaul. Rain or shine, tropical storm or twister, Cappucci is here to help us begin the process.
So get in his storm-chasing truck already, will ya?
When I checked out this book – based on the cover and the title – I pitched my request to review it based on how interesting the “Combining reportage and accessible science with personal storytelling and infectious enthusiasm” made it sound. Too often non-fiction books have a ton of information but sometimes the “infectious enthusiasm” that can make or break a reading experience is missing. This book has it in spades.
Barely in his mid 20s now, Matthew Cappucci has already packed enough into his life that just reading about it exhausted me at times. He’s also one of the truly lucky people who know from early on exactly what they want to do in life and then actually get to do it. No, let me add a bit to that. He knew what he wanted and then he made it happen. Included in that is talking his way into being allowed to make his first profession presentation to an audience of meteorologists when he was fifteen.
After that he was accepted at two Ivy schools – accepting the one without an established degree in what he wanted to major in and then creating his “own program from scratch,” then successfully petitioning Harvard into accepting it. Oh, and he also took what sounded like almost a full course load of graduate level classes from MIT at the same time. And tutored, and taught speaking classes, and went storm chasing through Tornado alley for a month each late spring. Want to know the best restaurants in small OK, TX, NE, and KS towns? He’s your man.
Along with the cheerful anecdotes, Cappucci serves up a hefty amount of weather information that he uses to explain what’s going on during supercells, tornadoes, hurricanes, an aurora borealis, and eclipses. I can’t say that I understood even half of it but after reading it, I do understand a bit more about the mechanics behind these events and how climate change is driving alterations in them. He clearly knows what he’s talking about and Matthew made it all accessible and fun. B+
At the end of the day, I want a life of looking up. Of learning to appreciate and understand the beauty that life delivers; of making the most of those beautiful moments. I plan to die with an empty bank account and a full passport.
Ultimately, I hope to instill in people that, with the right people and a daring attitude, every day can be an adventure. Sometimes it all starts just by looking up.
Jayne, yesterday you saved me Hoopla borrow and today you used it. This sounds like it’s borrow worthy!
@Jenreads: Oooh, it’s on Hoopla! Yes, by all means use a borrow on this one. And I forgot to mention there’s a section of some of the photos that Cappucci has taken over the years – think DARK, LOOMING clouds. He is, after all, the Tornado Guy. ☺
I live in Washington, DC so when I’m in the car and the weather report comes on the radio, it’s often Matthew Cappucci. He’s definitely gung ho and at times a bit OTT, but he’s charming and so very very knowledgeable that any excess enthusiasm is easily forgiven – plus if you’re not OTT enthusiastic when young, when can you be?
@Susan/DC: I think (or at least at the time when he started professionally) his radio (which he’d been doing before graduating) and TV jobs were separate. In the section of the book when he talks about covering the tornadoes that touched down in Maryland, he mentions needing to get permission from the radio employers in order to allow the TV station to use his footage.
LOL – my OTT enthusiasm got drained away a while ago.
@Susan/DC and @Jayne: As the famous quote from Henry David Thoreau says:
@Janine: For most of us yes, but every now and then some youth who is fired with enough enthusiasm actually manages it. ☺ I guess they’re the ones who keep the rest of us dreaming.