An American Library Association Notable Book of the Year
Finalist for the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction
Library Journal Best Sci-Tech Book of 2015
I loved learning so much about octopuses in this wonderful book! These creatures may look like aliens, but they are smart, curious, and full of personality. Sy Montgomery’s engaging storytelling made me feel like I was right there with her behind the scenes at the New England Aquarium and diving in the Pacific Ocean to study these fascinating creatures. Recommended By Jennifer H., Powells.com
The Soul of an Octopus is Sy Montgomery’s exploration into the mysterious nature of the octopus. Equal parts memoir and scientific study, this is a fascinating look at one of the ocean’s strangest creatures. Recommended By Ashleigh B., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Another New York Times
bestseller from the author of The Good Good Pig
, this “fascinating…touching…informative…entertaining” (Daily Beast
) book explores the emotional and physical world of the octopus—a surprisingly complex, intelligent, and spirited creature—and the remarkable connections it makes with humans.
In pursuit of the wild, solitary, predatory octopus, popular naturalist Sy Montgomery has practiced true immersion journalism. From New England aquarium tanks to the reefs of French Polynesia and the Gulf of Mexico, she has befriended octopuses with strikingly different personalities—gentle Athena, assertive Octavia, curious Kali, and joyful Karma. Each creature shows her cleverness in myriad ways: escaping enclosures like an orangutan; jetting water to bounce balls; and endlessly tricking companions with multiple “sleights of hand” to get food.
Scientists have only recently accepted the intelligence of dogs, birds, and chimpanzees but now are watching octopuses solve problems and are trying to decipher the meaning of the animals color-changing techniques. With her “joyful passion for these intelligent and fascinating creatures” (Library Journal Editors Spring Pick), Montgomery chronicles the growing appreciation of this mollusk as she tells a unique love story. By turns funny, entertaining, touching, and profound, The Soul of an Octopus reveals what octopuses can teach us about the meeting of two very different minds.
“One of the best science books of the year” “Science Friday,” NPR
"Diving deeper than Jules Verne ever dreamed, The Soul of an Octopus is a page-turning adventure that will leave you breathless. Has science ever been this deliciously hallucinatory? Boneless and beautiful, the characters here are not only big-hearted, they're multi-hearted, as well as smart, charming, affectionate...and, of course, ambidextrous. If there is a Mother Nature, her name is Sy Montgomery." Vicki Constantine Croke, author of Elephant Company
“Enter the mysterious intelligent alien world of the octopus. Experience a real intelligence based on a sense of touch that humans can barely imagine.”
Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation
"Fascinating...touching...informative...Entertaining books like The Soul of an Octopus remind us of just how much we not only have to learn from fellow creatures, but that they can have a positive impact on our lives." The Daily Beast
“What makes this book unusual is that Montgomery doesn't try to answer this question [about consciousness] by sifting through piles of research. Instead, she...listens. She develops extensive relationships with a handful of individual octopuses at the New England Aquarium, each with its own personality, its mundane dramas and tragedies. She records every small moment, treating each octopus like a character in a Jane Austen novel. The effect is wonderful. By the end, it's hard to shake the feeling that these bizarre creatures really do have rich internal lives, even if we still lack the imagination to grasp them entirely.“ Vox
"Naturalist Montgomery writes exceptionally affecting and enlightening books inspired by both rigorous scientific curiosity and enraptured wonder and empathy for all living beings...In prose as gripping and entwining as her
subjects’ many arms, Montgomery chronicles the octopus’ phenomenal strength, dexterity, speed... She also tells funny and moving stories about her friendships... Montgomery’s uniquely intimate portrait of the elusive octopus profoundly recalibrates our perception of consciousness, communication, and community." Booklist (starred review)
“Award-winning author Montgomery reveals [octopuses’] beauty. The book takes readers on a vivid tour of their complex inner world… explores their proclivities, their relationships and their intelligence and ultimately tries to deduce whether they possess consciousness… It is hard to come away from this book without a new appreciation for these wonderful creatures.” Scientific American
About the Author
Sy Montgomery is a naturalist, documentary scriptwriter, and author of twenty acclaimed books of nonfiction for adults and children, including the memoir The Good Good Pig, a New York Times bestseller. The recipient of numerous honors, including lifetime achievement awards from the Humane Society and the New England Booksellers Association, she lives in New Hampshire with her husband, border collie, and flock of chickens.
Sy Montgomery on PowellsBooks.Blog
To many, an octopus is a scary monster, a gelatinous mass of tentacles, or a cousin of calamari to be served with lemon on the side. But over the three years that I came to know them personally, from the New England Aquarium to the oceans of French Polynesia and Mexico, I came to understand these otherworldly invertebrate animals as exquisitely intelligent, curious, emotional, and playful. Each is as individual as you or I...