The Soul of an Octopus

A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness

The Soul of an Octopus

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 animal’s 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.
  • Atria Books | 
  • 272 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451697728 | 
  • April 2016
List Price $22.00

Video

Discover the 'Soul of an Octopus' with Sy Montgomery

What makes octopuses so fascinating? Sy Montgomery, author of the New York Times bestselling and National Book Award finalist book 'Soul of an Octopus', gives us a glimpse.

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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Soul of an Octopus includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

In The Soul of an Octopus, Sy Montgomery recounts her friendships with several octopuses—complex, spirited creatures who make remarkable connections with humans. She explores their almost alien intelligence, one that is of the Earth but so different from our mammalian and human consciousness that it might not be out of place in another world. Practicing true immersion journalism, Montgomery journeys from the New England Aquarium to the reefs of French Polynesia and the Gulf of Mexico in pursuit of these wild, solitary, predatory mollusks. It’s an underwater adventure story but also the story of relationships that are forged within the community of people that arises from their mutual care for the octopuses. Each octopus turns out to have a distinct personality, and each becomes the central character in her own drama, like a character in a Jane Austen novel. The story is in turn funny, entertaining, touching, and profound, as it reveals what octopuses can teach us about the meeting of two very different minds.

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About the Author

Sy Montgomery
Photograph © Selinda Chiquoine

Sy Montgomery

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.

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