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December 27, 2018

The Soul of an Octopus


The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery
Nonfiction
2015 Atria
Finished on March 13, 2018
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

Popular naturalist Sy Montgomery explores the emotional and physical world of the octopus, the remarkable connections it makes with people, and the vibrant community that arises around this complex, intelligent, and spirited creature. Practicing true immersion journalism, from New England aquarium tanks to the reefs of French Polynesia and the Gulf of Mexico, Montgomery befriends individual octopuses with strikingly different personalities--gentle Athena, assertive Octavia, curious Kali, and joyful Karma--who show their cleverness in myriad ways: escaping enclosures, creative trickery to get food, and jetting water to bounce balls.

Montgomery also chronicles scientists' growing appreciation of the octopus's problem-solving as she tells a 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.


I'll be honest. When my book club picked this book for one of our selections this year, I was less than enthusiastic. Maybe it was the subtitle (A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness) that turned me off. Or maybe it's just that I've never been a fan of octopuses. (No, octopuses, not octopi, as I later learned.) While visiting aquariums, I usually only give the octopus tank a cursory glance before moving on to the otter or penguin exhibits. Not anymore! I loved Montgomery's entertaining anecdotes and explanations about the life (and soul) of an octopus, and learned more than I could have imagined. The book is far from the dull, dry nature read I thought I was in for! Did you know, for instance, that an octopus tastes with its skin? Or that it hatches from an egg the size of a grain of rice. Or that the Pacific Octopus lives only 3-4 years and has three hearts? I also learned that they watch TV and learn from each other. And, that they lay between 67,000-100,000 eggs, but only once. After that, they starve themselves for the rest of their life and die!




I was so impressed with The Soul of an Octopus and we had a great discussion at our book club. I highly recommend this fascinating book, which may even tug at your heartstrings. It did mine.

12 comments:

  1. So, this is nonfiction? I think I'd like it.

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  2. Yep, it's nonfiction. Be sure to click on the author's name at the beginning of my review and you can see what else she's written about.

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  3. How funny we both read a book by this author in December - could it be because we are both Sagittarius ? LOL

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    1. It's funny that we both reviewed books by the same author in December, but I actually read this book back in March. That's how far behind I am with my reviews! :)

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  4. I love this! It’s the kind of book I know I would enjoy. Thanks!

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    1. Robin, I think you and Byron would both enjoy it! Rod read it, as well as my mom, and thought it was quite good.

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  5. This looks like just the kind of nonfiction book I would enjoy. I know just a bit about octopuses from our visits to various aquariums (including the Hatfield!), and once I discovered how intelligent and curious they are, I found them fascinating. Thanks for the great suggestion!

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    1. Aren't they amazing creatures, Laurel? After reading the book, I went in search of more information and found some interesting videos on Youtube. Hope you enjoy the book!

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    2. I requested it from our library today and I'm 15th in line. I'm looking forward to reading to reading it! Thanks again—I love that you do book reviews. :-)

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    3. You'll have to let me know how you like it, Laurel. As far as book reviews, that's how this blog began way back in 2006. I've only recently started writing about our travels, which I really want to get back to. We were on the road for almost two months and I've only written about the first few weeks. There's a link to our Escape Trailer travels in my sidebar and I plan to add another for the Four Winds, once I get caught up. Ha! Famous last words. :)

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  6. I like octopuses and think I would like this book; I understand they are very intelligent.

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    1. Terra, this is such an eye-opening book! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Thanks so much for stopping by with your comment.

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