The Soul of An Octopus

The Soul of An Octopus

A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness

Book - 2015
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"In this astonishing book from the author of the bestselling memoir The Good Good Pig, Sy Montgomery explores the emotional and physical world of the octopus--a surprisingly complex, intelligent, and spirited creature--and the remarkable connections it makes with humans. Sy Montgomery's popular 2011 Orion magazine piece, "Deep Intellect," about her friendship with a sensitive, sweet-natured octopus named Athena and the grief she felt at her death, went viral, indicating the widespread fascination with these mysterious, almost alien-like creatures. Since then Sy has practiced true immersion journalism, from New England aquarium tanks to the reefs of French Polynesia and the Gulf of Mexico, pursuing these wild, solitary shape-shifters. Octopuses have varied personalities and intelligence they show in myriad ways: endless trickery to escape enclosures and get food; jetting water playfully to bounce objects like balls; and evading caretakers by using a scoop net as a trampoline and running around the floor on eight arms. But with a beak like a parrot, venom like a snake, and a tongue covered with teeth, how can such a being know anything? And what sort of thoughts could it think? The intelligence of dogs, birds, and chimpanzees was only recently accepted by scientists, who now are establishing the intelligence of the octopus, watching them solve problems and deciphering the meaning of their color-changing camouflage techniques. Montgomery chronicles this growing appreciation of the octopus, but also tells a love story. By turns funny, entertaining, touching, and profound, The Soul of an Octopus reveals what octopuses can teach us about consciousness and the meeting of two very different minds"-- Provided by publisher
Publisher: New York : Atria Books, 2015
ISBN: 9781451697711
Branch Call Number: 594.56 Montgomery 2015
Characteristics: 261 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 22 cm


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Dec 21, 2017

This was an enjoyable book about the interactions between humans & octopuses and how they may see us. It has a lot of interesting facts and a number of scientists are consulted for their comments or research on octopuses. It is more a book about how humans feel about the octopus and and how they react to humans, rather than a hard science examination of octopuses. Still, I learned a good bit about the animal and the stories of human-octopus interactions were very interesting. Adults will value this book more than younger readers, but it is a light read and has joys for anyone interested in the subject.

Aug 31, 2017

This is primarily the story of how the author, a nature writer, fell in love with octopuses. It's full of scientific tidbits, but it's a fairly light read and not a hard science book. The author also includes some more philosophical reflections about the consciousness of cephalopods. Overall, this was interesting and enjoyable.

Jun 17, 2017

I really enjoyed this book! It was very interesting and taught me a lot of new and different facts about octopuses that I did not know before. The book was a very easy read and was pleasantly written. I enjoyed the author's style, in that she relayed information without making the book too sciencey/boring or difficult to read. I was hooked from the beginning to end and there were a few moments where I was emotional. I was invested in all of the octopus characters in the book, I am saddened by how short their lives are. I would highly recommend this book to animal lovers of all kinds, especially lovers of the octopus.

Feb 21, 2017

Light on science and heavy on "I can't believe I'm touching an octopus!" With at least 4 other books on octopuses by other authors published in the last several years, there has to be a better introduction to these amazing animals out there.

Nov 24, 2016

Welcome to the world of the octopus and other ocean life. Informative, illuminating, charming account of the personality of the octopus. A gentle read away from the human world creating a wondrous atmosphere with reminders of the importance of the natural world.
I was left with a warm glow of wonder as I read.

Aug 09, 2016

Such a wonderful book! You don't need to be a marine biologist to appreciate how beautifully written this book is and how interesting octopus are. Truly a wonderful read for all!

FSJPL_Amy Jun 28, 2016

A fascinating look at a fascinating creature. I did feel that too much of the book was filled with the author talking about how amazing it was to "snuggle" with octopuses. Nonetheless, it was fun to get to know each octopus the author wrote about. I now know a lot more about the brains and bodies of these amazing creatures.

Jun 24, 2016

Re Looper46's crack- yes, she does rather gush. And i think she's in denial- she and her octopi are in love? Oh really- then why do they constantly struggle to escape?
But this denialism is typical among nature/animal lovers- they're as consumerist as anybody else, hence as *anti*- animal/environment, but carefully avoid connecting their actions with environmental collapse. [with friends like these...]
Octopi are weird? Humans are far weirder.

Only interesting fact i noticed- that there seems considerable pre-processing in individual arms, to the extent that an octopus may be eight of them! [Like corpus-collosum severed humans, one hand may fight another]
Overall, 3 stars. [soppy, but occasionally interesting]

May 27, 2016

Well, now I know everything I ever wanted to know about octopuses. Would make a good pre-teen read or YA selection. "Damn with faint praise"

Apr 05, 2016

Fascinating personal narrative of the author's experience with getting to know several octopuses and the works of an aquarium. Easy to read and memorable, the book raises awareness of the unique qualities and intriguing mind of an octopus. Montgomery also introduces the readers to several individuals fascinated with octopuses, some of who travel their own unique and moving life journeys.

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Jun 17, 2017

csrestall thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Aug 24, 2015

EKelly_0 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


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Jun 17, 2017

This book encompasses the writers interactions with octopuses, from her first encounter to developing a deep relationship with octopuses in captivity and in the wild. The book details the lives of four main octopuses, Athena who introduces the author to octopuses in general, Octavia a wild captured octopus who lives out the rest of her life in the aquarium, Kali a young octopus who succumbs to an unpleasant fate, and Karma also a young octopus. The octopus adventure begins when the author meets Athena her first octopus friend. She is enraptured by the creatures from first touch. Athena dies suddenly without laying eggs so another octopus must be found. Octavia is captured already mature from the wild and is the only octopus that learned how to camouflage. She is in the majority of the book and lives out the rest of her life at the aquarium eventually laying eggs and dying of old age. Kali is intended to be her replacement however when they transfer her to a new tank she escapes over night and is found dead the next morning. Karma is the replacement for Kali and we don't learn to much about her as she is introduced towards the end of the book. The book also details other goings on at the aquarium and small details about the other animals, as well as the authors trials with learning to scuba dive and her interactions with wild octopus.

Aug 24, 2015

A well written blend of anecdotes and scientific evidence exploring the mystery of the behaviour and conscience of octopuses.


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