I adore Cloud Atlas. It is probably the best book I have ever read and completely different from all of them. Wow. Wow wow wow wow wow. I cannot get over how gorgeous the prose is, how, whether in a limited vocabulary or speaking through a verbose persona, David Mitchell makes every rudimentary thought pensive and beautiful. I'm not even through with it yet, but I just reached the part where the narrator sort of explains the title (you know that part; it's in so many books), and when I read it, I was completely shocked.
I read the next paragraph, turned the page.
I turned back to read those two sentences over.
And I literally gasped.
Heavens, it was the most gorgeous thought. And the way he led up to it was... just completely perfect.
To complement the thought, here is a collection of art/photography by Hugo Hildebrand Hildebrandsson on a UCSD site. The site introduces the collection thus:
"In 1874, the year of the first International Meteorological Congress...important new efforts were initiated in the [field of cloud classification]. During the succeeding 20 years constructive proposals were advanced in many countries by a large number of workers whose combined efforts led in 1896 to publication of the International Cloud-Atlas". This atlas documents an early cooperative scientific investigation on an international level. U.S. observations were made at Blue Hill Observatory, south of Boston."
It's actually a legitimate cloud atlas. :) Crazy, huh?