A meeting of the minds. The folks at Brainpickings have fallen for Sy’s “breathtaking inquiry” into the consciousness of octopuses. They advise: “do treat yourself to Sy Montgomery’s bewitching The Soul of an Octopus.”
Houghton Mifflin has just released this video, filmed at the New England Aquarium, about Sy’s forthcoming book, The Great White Shark Scientist to be published on June 7.
The Soul of an Octopus is now in its 11th printing.
“Empathy for domesticated animals is natural to us, but empathy toward many other creatures can take effort. Mammals usually aren’t challenging, nor birds. Insects and reptiles are harder, but familiarity can make it easier. How about invertebrates of all kinds, though? And that most mysterious of invertebrates — the cephalopods, including the octopus?
“The Soul of an Octopus takes us into the stunningly alien world of octopus consciousness. From the mesmerizing chameleonic shapeshifting of their skin color, textures and shape changes, to their eight-armed dexterous coordination, to their playful intelligence, Montgomery introduces us to a life form that expands our imagination and strains our empathy into a bigger orbit. As she writes, quoting one of the biologists she works with: ‘Just about every animal,’ Scott says, ‘– not just mammals and birds– can learn, recognize individuals, and respond to empathy.’” And on working with these animals: ‘You learn to project empathy.’”
“It is a quantum leap in our sense of ourselves and of the place of consciousness in our planet’s fellow beings. As such, it is a bold step toward a greater understanding of the risks and values in the ecological relationships we maintain with the whole wide world.” — John E.
O is for Octopus. Helen MacDonald, author of the acclaimed H is for Hawk, was asked by The New York Times Book Review: “Who are your favorite writers on nature?”
MacDonald’s answer: “Too many to list! Off the top of my head, and restricting myself to modern writers, Barry Lopez, R. F. Langley, Tim Dee, Kathleen Jamie, Sy Montgomery, Julia Blackburn, Luke Jennings, and so many more.”
Big Read. Sy’s neighbors in Hancock, Peterborough, and Jaffrey are getting set for this year’s “Big Read,” when the communities will take on one book. This year readers will be wrapping their arms around The Soul of an Octopus. The libraries will buy books with a grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. On Earth Day, April 22, Sy will give a talk at the Peterborough Town House, 7 p.m.