The Soul of an Octopus:
A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness
Atria Books, ISBN 1451697716
From the Publisher:
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 grief at her death, went viral, indicating the widespread fascination with these mysterious, almost alien-like creatures. Since then she has practiced true immersion journalism, from New England aquarium tanks to Mexico and French Polynesia, pursuing these solitary shape-shifters. With a central brain the size of that of an African grey parrot and neural matter in each of its eight arms, octopuses have varied personalities and intelligence they show in myriad ways: endless trickery to get food and escape enclosures; jetting water playfully to bounce objects like balls; and evading their 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 scientific appreciation of the octopus, but also tells a love story. By turns funny, entertaining, touching, and profound, The Soul of an Octopus ultimately reveals what octopuses can teach us about the nature and consciousness of the mind.
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, which was a national 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.
Simon and Shuster’s
THE SOUL OF AN OCTOPUS
Reading Group Guide