The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness

by Sy Montgomery

Hardcover, 2015

Call number

594 MON



Atria Books (2015), Edition: 1, 272 pages


"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"-- "An investigation of the emotional and physical world of the octopus"--… (more)

Media reviews

Library Journal | June 2015 | Vol. 140 No. 10
"This book's big reveal may be up front in the title, but that doesn't detract from the delight of discovering just what, exactly, an octopus's soul might look like. ...Anyone captivated by the natural world, from interested middle school readers and up, will be engrossed by this account of a
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strange - and unexpectedly beautiful - animal."
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User reviews

LibraryThing member TooBusyReading
Octopuses, and the author explains why the plural is “octopuses,” and not “octopi,” are intelligent, curious, and creative. So I was saddened when I learned that behind the scenes, “they lived in tanks or barrels that were completely barren, no hiding places, no rocks or sand or
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tankmates.” And I was rather appalled that the author seemed to think this was okay. I was saddened that a supposedly loved octopus spent her last days caring tenderly for her eggs that would never hatch because they were infertile because she was a freaking captive, stolen from the ocean and kept in her watery cage. There was even the sentence about one of the octopi, “She seems desperate to get out.”

The author had considerable angst when she had trouble scuba diving because of her ears, wanting to experience in the wild what these captive animals were denied. I was not sympathetic towards the author's angst.

I expected more about octopuses in the wild. I didn't expect zoo-like aquariums, shipping animals cross country and across the world and hoping they survived. I didn't expect severing the nerves of an octopus's arms to see what would happen.

I hated that a sick octopus was give to eat a live crab with its claws removed for easier eating. This book showed the author's attachment to some animals, but little empathy.

This unabridged audio book was read by the author, who was often quite excitable verging on hysterical. I didn't enjoy the narration.
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LibraryThing member Bookmarque
My poor husband. Every time we go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, I have to park myself in front of the octopus tanks. It happens with any other place that keeps octopuses, too. I’ll stay there for an hour or so total. If not more. An octopus-only pass would be fine. Well not really. My fascination
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with them is long-established, but I can’t pinpoint a precise time it started. Maybe when I was a kid during episodes of The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau. Or any of the other nature books or programs featuring life in the ocean that I devoured as a kid. If money, time and hassle were no big deal I’d have one as a pet. And a raven. For the same reasons; they’re intelligent and I am convinced; self-aware.

I’ve long known octopuses are smart, but I didn’t know that they were so individual in their personalities. That was something Ms. Montgomery really brought to life with her book (and so much more). I was practically in tears by the end when she had to say goodbye to yet another amazing octopus she’d come to know and love. Tears. Over a mollusk. An invertebrate about as different from human or mammalian life as it’s possible to be and still share a planet. I just can’t tell you how much of a fan-girl I was while reading this book; oohing and ahhing and emitting the occasional squee. My husband...did I mention he suffers slightly from my manias?, well he was peppered with ‘did you know?’ and ‘OMG, listen to this…’, the whole time I read this book.

Like, did you know that octopuses have a dominant eye, just like people? That they have estrogen or testosterone and cortisol hormones almost like people? That they recognize individual faces? That they react to those different people in really different ways? That they taste with their skin and suckers? That they only live a few years? That some species carry empty coconut shells to use as emergency shelter?

Getting back to the hormones and the tasting with skin bits; I wonder if the chemical similarity between our species is one of the reasons they take to us so readily. We’re as alien to them as they are to us, but yet time and time again bonds form with captive octopuses and their caretakers. Without language we’re able to communicate and, dare I say it, care for each other. Even in the wild, octopuses have been known to lead divers around on a kind of tour of their territories. That is something I’ve never known a terrestrial animal to do.

At times, Montgomery speculates, with colluding researchers, on the reasons for the octopus’s intelligence, given that it doesn’t live long, doesn’t interact with others during its lifetime and has a distributed neural net rather than a centralized brain. In the corvid family (crows, ravens and jays) it’s thought their smarts come from being so good at finding food they have a lot of leisure time and get bored. Their antics are a product of that downtime. With octopuses it’s thought that the no-shell situation forced them to have to outwit their predators rather than just hide.

So wonderful that I really, really wanted one while reading. Or at least to have access to one at an aquarium the way Montgomery did. She said it was an honor to know and interact with these animals, and she’s so right. It’s a privilege that I was intensely jealous of, but could experience, however remotely, through her writing.

If you think octopuses are slimy, creepy, scary, unfathomable creatures, I think you need to read this book. If you already appreciate, but don’t really understand octopuses, you need to read this book. If you love nature and the mystery of consciousness, you need to read this book. If you’re curious about the different paths that evolution has taken to produce successful creatures, you need to read this book. If you’re breathing, you need to read this book.

Did I mention I loved it?
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LibraryThing member KimMeyer
Okay, this book may have suffered from my assumptions. I was expecting a book about the minds and mental processes of sea creatures, albeit told in a memoir style, and I guess technically it is that. Mostly this book is about the author. Montgomery is terribly earnest and a mediocre writer, and she
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goes on and on and on about herself for a large percentage of this book. Her special aquarium visiting privileges, her friendships with other humans and their backgrounds, her learning to scuba dive. I wanted to bail around the halfway point but didn't. This book isn't what I expected, but that happens sometimes. The actually science based bits on octopuses are interesting but not as plentiful as I'd like, and as a memoir (my favorite category of writing!) this isn't a winner.
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LibraryThing member lisapeet
This was a lovely book—both fascinating and deeply kind, with a lot to interest a broad swath of readers. The science is accessible without being dumb, and at the same time Montgomery brings the octopuses (NOT octopi!) and their personalities (yes, they have 'em) really vividly to life. Plus I
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love reading about any interest that attracts the oddballs among us, and octopuses definitely seem to fall into that category—I guess I can count myself among those oddballs now. Thus ends any pulpo consumption for me ever again, and no big loss.
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LibraryThing member norabelle414
Science writer Sy Montgomery develops a relationship with the New England Aquarium in order to study the intelligence of one of the most mysterious animals on Earth - the octopus. She interacts with several different octopuses at the aquarium, and goes on scuba diving trips to try to find octopuses
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in the wild. She learns how smart they are, and how they have distinct personalities, and how they relate and compare to the other animals in the aquarium.

There are so many things to think about regarding octopuses. How did they get so smart when they are almost entirely solitary? Do they have one central decision-making brain, or does each arm (filled with far more neurons than their head) act independently? What do they think about humans? Any story about octopuses is also a story about death. Despite their mind-boggling intelligence, even the longest-lived octopuses only live about 5 years. How does losing such an intelligent and charismatic animal affect the people who care for them every day? Before they die, most octopuses go senile. Are they aware of what's happening to them? How would octopuses compare to humans if they had similar lifespans?

As a zoo volunteer myself, I was a little annoyed at the level of access Montgomery was afforded. Not just to the octopus themselves but also to hardworking aquarium employees and octopus experts. The employees and many of the volunteers mentioned in the book work full time and have been at the aquarium for ages, but Montgomery just waltzes in every Wednesday morning to pet the octopus and pick the brain of the experts.

This is a light and readable book mixing science, philosophy, and lovable characters. And the humans are good too.
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LibraryThing member Gwendydd
I was really disappointed with this book, which is mostly because I wanted it to be something other than what it is. I was hoping for a work of popular science that covers a lot of information about octopuses, hopefully with some details about scientific studies they have done to learn this
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information. Instead, this is a book about the author's personal fascination with octopuses, especially the ones she was allowed to visit regularly at an aquarium. The scientific information about octopuses probably only takes up 20 or so pages, with another 30-40 pages full of various anecdotes about octopus behavior. The rest of the book is about the people who work at the aquarium and their relationship with the aquarium's octopuses, and about the author's own fascination with them. I really wasn't interested in the chapters about the author's scuba diving lessons, or life stories of the aquarium volunteers, or the reactions of aquarium visitors.

What little bit of information there is about octopuses is really fascinating, so I hope that I can find more information elsewhere.
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LibraryThing member nfmgirl2
I think probably just about every person who came in contact with me while I was reading this book, and for weeks after, heard about it from me. That's how much it affected me!

This book follows the author's experiences with the New England Aquarium and her time getting to know octopuses, both wild
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and tame. As the title would indicate, the book showcases the octopus, with its intelligence and complexity and depth. However it also includes many of the other inhabitants of the aquarium, like starfish, anemones, lobster and fish of many varieties.

The author first wrote about the octopus Athena in her piece “Deep Intellect” in Orion magazine in 2011, and this book introduces us not only to Athena, but also to Octavia, Kali and Karma, and their various personalities.

Octopus are viewed as frightening enigmas, or even as ugly and disgusting creatures, but the author helps the reader to see their beauty. At one point, she writes of a time that she was standing with the aquarium’s other visitors and observing the octopus Octavia. Some teenage girls were disparaging the aging octopus absorbed in the care of her eggs, and the author engaged the girls through education about Octavia’s anatomy and behavior, but then there was a moment that the girls could identify with, and eventually the girls’ attitudes toward Octavia turned around.

"They don’t want to hear how Octavia is different from us. They want to know how we’re the same."

My final word: The author successfully shows that octopuses are so much more than what we typically think. Their behavior is sometimes reminiscent of a pet dog, seeking human interaction and their tactile natures touching and tasting their human companions. The author succeeded in affecting me, and not only making me recommit to never eating octopus or their cousin the squid, but it made me begin to doubt my ability to continue to eat seafood at all. The consciousness of even fish like grouper is phenomenal and at times unsettling. Tender and amusing stories of starfish and anemones had me shaking my head in amazement. I adored this book, and it left me yearning to make the acquaintance of an octopus, envious of others who have been so blessed.
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LibraryThing member preetalina
Where do I begin with this? Well, first off to chide myself on not having read enough Sy Montgomery books. She’s one of my favorite authors so what’s my problem?

I’d been looking forward to this book since I first heard about it last year. Sy Montgomery has written some excellent books
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and pieces on animals and the natural world – one of which was in Orion Magazine a few years ago: Deep Intellect. This piece chronicled her experiences with a particular octopus and touched upon their intelligence. Orion Magazine even hosted a chat on the subject shortly after the article was published – probably because it proved to be so popular!

This book is basically an extension of that article – Montgomery meets more octopuses, both in aquariums and in the wild. She explores their world, taking the reader on both a scientific, but largely philosophical journey through the octopus’ intellect and on the concept of their consciousness, if such a thing exists.

A large part of the book is spent at the New England Aquarium in Boston, where Montgomery meets and gets to know a few octopuses as well as their keepers, and other employees and volunteers. She even gets to know some of the other animals there and explores a bit of their worlds as well. For example, on a sea star that shared a tank with one of the octopuses:

I wonder: Can a brainless animal feel curiosity? Does it want to play? Or does it only "want" toys or food the way a plant "wants" the sun? Does a sea star experience consciousness? If it does, what does consciousness feel like to a sea star? (p20)

The concept of animals being smart is fairly new to science. Just a decade or two ago, it was unfathomable to most people. And the idea of a “lower” group of animals like octopuses displaying intelligence? Crazy talk! But over time, the idea has become more accepted and it’s hard to imagine a world in which it wasn’t.

There are some amazing videos on YouTube and elsewhere, showing the things octopuses are capable of doing. But the thing that strikes me is how different an octopus is compared to us. They have three hearts! They have multiple brains! They can sense and taste with their tentacles! They can change into a kaleidoscope of colors, while being color blind (or having monochromatic vision – I need to learn more about this)! They have eight arms! So what does that mean for our understanding of their world, much less their intellect?

Assessing the mind of a creature this alien demands that we be extraordinarily flexible in our own thinking. Marine biologist James Wood suggests our hubris gets in our way. (p50)

And what else is out there that we haven’t even explored, thought about, considered in a different way?

"So if an octopus is this smart," Steve asked Bill, "what other animals are out there that could be this smart—that we don't think of as being sentient and having personality and memories and all these things?" (p48)

Beyond smarts, what about personality? It’s quite clear that many people who have pets that they have personalities. They’re not automatons that respond in the same way to stimuli. And that’s the case not only for octopus, but for so many other animals that people are lucky enough to get close to, whether in the wild or elsewhere. Montgomery talks about some of these stories as well, as she explores the world of the octopus.

But what I like the most is that through her writing, you feel like you are there with her, hanging out with octopuses and getting to know them. At the end of the book, when one of the octopuses Montgomery got to know very well was close to death, Montgomery felt it as if she were losing a friend – which she was. And I felt it too. I read that particular section with tears in my eyes, as if I, too, were losing a friend.

Now I’m on a quest of my own to try to get to know an octopus too – or at least see one in the wild. Just getting a tiny taste of their world would be such an amazing experience, and such a great way to bring all the feelings in this book to life.
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LibraryThing member Pepperwings
I really enjoyed this book, however, I felt it was misrepresented in the title, it doesn't delve into much of the intelligence, or cognitive behaviors of the octopus, or people in relation. There's not a lot of science in this book, it's more of an observational diary, which is fine, and I did
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learn some things, just not what I had hoped to see.
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LibraryThing member nyiper
The Good Good Pig, and now this---Sy Montgomery takes you with you in so many ways---wonderful, wonderful writing----and SO many things I did not know about creatures out there in the huge watery spaces of ocean---or in more close circumstances--the aquariums she visited and where she became close
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friends with octopuses....and people. Should not be missed!!!
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LibraryThing member KatyBee
This is a fascinating book and perfect for readers who don't usually pick up non-fiction to read for enjoyment. There is a wealth of information about octopuses and great descriptions about interacting with them as individuals. Who knew that they are intelligent, playful creatures with unique
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personalities? A great read.
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LibraryThing member Razinha
Wonderful book with a few small problems... The subtitle is grossly off - not much "exploration". And she mentions Apollo 14's astronaut Edgar Mitchell's Institute of Noetic Sciences wihout qualifying it as nonsensical bunk. Plus, she asks, unbelievably, if animals, like humans, have "free will".
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I'll forgive that very stupid question ... very stupid ... for her delightful conversational writing style and her love affair with octopuses. Forays into the bizarre and inane are misplaced here, and are mercifully few.

Do problem solving, emotions, likes and dislikes, curiosity ... constitute evidence of intelligence? Even more, if all displayed in a non-human species? Clearly evolved on a radically diffeent path, octopuses nevertheless demonstrate intelligence.

And that is amazing.
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LibraryThing member kvrfan
One of the standard criticisms of science fiction stories of an "alien encounter" variety is that the aliens are not alien enough. Rather, they are just mutated variations of homo sapiens in their perceptions of reality, their emotional lives and motivations, and in some cases even appearance.

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Soul of an Octopus is not a science fiction book. Yet it focuses on a creature that is perhaps one of the most alien in contrast to humanity that one can imagine. It lives in the water. It is highly intelligent, an ace escape-artist that can often outwit its keepers. It possesses such a complex nervous system that there are more neurons contained in its (eight) arms than it has in its brain. It smells and tastes through its skin. It has an extraordinary ability to "shape-shift" through camouflage and varying the texture of its skin. It has three hearts. And its blood runs blue.

Yet here are some other characteristics of the octopus: it can bond with humans, sometimes being quite "affectionate" (though not indiscriminately--it can react to people it doesn't like, as well); if it finds itself with more food than it itself can eat, it has been observed to share its bounty with other creatures beyond its species; and it apparently likes to watch television (come to think of it, maybe it's not that intelligent after all).

I found it absolutely fascinating to learn all these things about octopuses from Sy Montgomery--and "octopuses" is the proper plural, as Montgomery also explains. From the book's title, however, I expected something of a more Annie Dillard-esque meditation, riffing on the concept of consciousness and what it might mean from an octopan point-of-view--e.g., how might an octopus understand its environment and, say, its encounters with warm-blooded, air-breathing humans, when most of its sensory input is coming through its eight, independent appendages. The first couple of chapters give the impression that this is indeed the approach Montgomery intends to take, but then the book moves more into giving Montgomery's own personal context for her octopal interactions than it sometimes is about the octopuses themselves (so that the book could have as easily been entitled, "My Adventures With Octopuses," than "The Soul of an Octopus")

I would have liked to have had Montgomery help me ponder more the idea of "octopus-consciousness," as well as other sea creatures--she points out, for instance, that while the embryo of a sea star begins with a brain, as it develops, those neurons migrate to a complex neutral network around the mouth. What is the consciousness of a sea star like? But once Montgomery raises the thought, she passes on. I still enjoyed the book. And how it made me realize I myself now have a love for octopuses! But it also could have been more.

And the next time a science fiction writer wants to create a alien creature, s/he should just consider the octopus. If they can invent something as least as alien as that, they've got it made.
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LibraryThing member debann6354
I became enchanted with octopuses during this book. Never realized how intelligent, sensitive and friendly these animals are. Would love to feel an octopuses arms around mine, alas not to be. Sy Montgomery did an excellent job in imparting the unique and wonderful characteristics of an octopus. I
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would have liked more information about other species of octopus, perhaps that's for another book or my own internet research. I'm just thrilled I was able to spend time, although vicariously, with Athena, Octavia and Karma as well as with the employees and volunteers of the New England Aquarium. I visited a local aquarium prior to reading The Soul of an Octopus where fortunately there was an octopus and was amazed at its peculiar and remarkable shape. Now I have to go back with the knowledge that the octopus is also extremely smart and clever. I appreciate the knowledge gleaned from this book
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LibraryThing member mamzel
The first thing we learn about the octopus is that according to the author the plural is octopuses. (Miriam Webster, however, lists that and octopi are acceptable). It might just be me but starting with an incorrect fact is maybe not the best way to make friends with the reader.

Octopi are
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fascinating creatures. They have amazing abilities to camouflage themselves using color and texture and can fit through amazingly small openings. They are curious and even exhibit friendliness. They can appear to be shy or aggressive and aquarium owners have discovered they are adept at opening their tanks and escaping.

What this book is not subtitled is "A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Octopi Lovers" however, and I found myself annoyed at the constant intrusion of the author's feelings and comments about the amazing trips around the world to observe octopi and other animals. The only interpersonal relationship I found intriguing was the contact between the octopus and the autistic girl.
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LibraryThing member Pmaurer
This author absolutely LOVES the world surrounding octopus. I learned many interesting details about octopus and the aquarium community, much more than I wanted to. Somewhat redundant in describing the lives of the various octopus that she worked with. If it hadn't been a book club choice, I would
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have stopped earlier.
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LibraryThing member EllsbethB
There is a plethora of good information on octopuses and other sea life in this book. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the New England Aquarium. It was fun to read a lot about this wonderful place. I did find myself wishing there was less discussion and drama on souls and
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consciousness, and more science. However, this is still a worthwhile read.
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LibraryThing member froxgirl
I surprised myself by how much pleasure I found in this book. The author feeds the reader so much incredible information about these geniuses of the ocean that she'll want to just meet one face-to-face, armed with all her new knowledge and appreciation. In addition to cephalopod facts, she also
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introduces us to the octopus tenders and lovers at the NE Aquarium in Boston, to the fish and turtles, to the life brimming within and behind the Giant Ocean Tank. Ms. Montgomery learns to scuba dive, despite painful ear problems, and some of the finest parts of the book are her encounters with octopuses in the wild. This is an unexpected joy of a read.
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LibraryThing member herschelian
Could have been a 5 star book but the photos were dire. I had no idea how clever/cunning octopusses are, nor what a short life-time they have. This book made me really think about how much/little we know about many creatures on the planet we share, how they live, 'think', react and how they behave
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when they interact with us - the dominant species. The oceans hold many such mysteries.
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LibraryThing member FairestEve
This was a binge read that took over an entire day. I have a strong fascination and love for cephalopods and picked up this book thinking it was a deep scientific study. Instead, I got a quite charming story of an animal lover interacting and studying octopuses herself.

I have my issues with the
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book. The long dragged out portions of her learning to scuba dive (I personally found them unnecessary, but I know some enjoyed them) and the questionable treatment of a couple of the octopuses to name a few. However, I found the entire story informative and enjoyable. It made me jealous that the author got to spend so much personal time with the creatures and truly bonded with them.

I don't wish to say too much more because I don't want to spoil the experience for others, but please if you have an interest in octopuses I highly suggest reading this book.
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LibraryThing member dele2451
Sy Montgomery's enlightening and surprisingly tender study of octopuses could do for captive cephalopods what Temple Grandin's writings are doing for cows. An educational (the segments on anatomy and camouflage capabilities are fascinating!) and endearing read about one of our planet's most
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illusive--and often feared--creatures.
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LibraryThing member viviennestrauss
What a great book, I learned so much about octopuses I hadn't known before. Loved that the book wasn't purely scientific but also emotional as well. Who knew I could cry so much over the death of octopuses I hadn't even met.
LibraryThing member PeskyLibrary
Full disclosure, I don’t read a lot of nonfiction. There aren’t very many subjects that can hold my attention for 300 pages or so, and I find most nonfiction writers can’t help but lapse into pages of excruciating detail about the minutiae of their beloved topic. The Soul of an Octopus by
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noted naturalist and author Sy Montgomery has moments of this, but she keeps the book moving with her personal narrative of the more than two years she spent working with octopuses. (Yes--the correct plural is octopuses as she explains in the first paragraph of the book.)
Montgomery, a naturalist who has spent her life studying many different species, immerses herself in the world of the octopus with the help of the New England Aquarium. Not only do the many creatures that she encounters become beloved characters, but also her “Wonderful Wednesday” crew that she meets up with most weeks at the aquarium. In The Soul of an Octopus Montgomery explores not only the unique and fascinating lives of octopuses, but philosophy, consciousness, and what gives an animal their personality--and possibly their soul. PK
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LibraryThing member Vicki_Weisfeld
The New York Times has called naturalist Sy Montgomery “equal parts poet and scientist” and the Boston Globe says she’s “part Indiana Jones and part Emily Dickinson.” Maybe, with all those parts, it’s fitting that this 2015 book—National Book Award finalist The Soul of an Octopus: A
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Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness—is also about a creature with many parts.
If we really understood how wondrous octopuses are, we wouldn’t eat them. (Their remarkable nature, by the way, extends to the genetic level.)
The first thing that’s hard to grasp about octopusus is that almost two-thirds of their neurons are not in their brains, but in their arms. In one early encounter with the octopus Athena, Montgomery says, “Unconstrained by joints, her arms were constantly questing, coiling, stretching, reaching, unfurling, all in different directions at once. Each arm seemed like a separate creature, with a mind of its own. In fact, this is almost literally true.”
She speculates that this “distributed intelligence” enables the octopus to multitask. It reduces the burden on the brain to coordinate all those arms, which can change color and surface texture in an instant, camouflaging themselves from predators or potential prey and indicating mood, from calm to distress to happy red. The arms, she says, “learn, think, decide, and remember—while at the same time processing the flood of taste and touch information pouring in from every inch of skin.”
That the information they receive by touch is remembered is evident from another powerful theme of Montgomery’s book. Octopuses are not just smart—as she demonstrates in describing their many tricks—they have something akin to an emotional life, evidenced by their relationships with the people around them. (No, they’re not just food-seeking.)
They can recognize individual people and other animals because of their extraordinary senses. An octopus’s chemoreceptors can detect another’s “scent” from at least thirty yards away, and research suggests their suckers are a hundred times more sensitive than the chemical receptors on your own tongue.
At Boston’s New England Aquarium where Montgomery interacted with several octopuses over a period of years, one—Octavia—was very friendly. As Octavia’s life was coming to a close, she laid thousands of eggs, which she obsessively guarded night and day. For many months Montgomery and the caretakers had no physical contact with her. When she was weakening fast, they moved her to a simpler environment without her eggs. Freed from that duty, Octavia’s behavior made it clear she remembered her friends, embracing them as before.
Read this book and marvel!
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LibraryThing member Stbalbach
The Soul of an Octopus explores consciousness and achieves that anecdotally by observing how octopuses behave with intelligence. The sub-text is about loss and death, a theme Montgomery has covered before in other books. Montgomery's writing is a Young Adult version of nature writing, a sort of
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middle-brow suitable for the budding high school scientist. It's a mix of personal experiences, facts about the octopus and various character studies of people who work at the Boston Aquarium.
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