Title: The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery
Book Beginnings quote:
On a rare, warm day in mid-March, when the snow was melting into mud in New Hampshire, I traveled to Boston, where everyone was strolling along the harbor or sitting on benches licking ice cream cones. But I quit the blessed sunlight for the moist, dim sanctuary of the New England Aquarium. I had a date with a giant Pacific octopus.
"How many of you keep octopuses?" Jennifer asked the crowd during her keynote speech, the first after Roland's introduction. About fifty hands went up."And do they have personalities?" Like a unanimous vote at a town meeting came the emphatic answer: "Yes!"
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. (Publisher)
Review: The Soul of an Octopus is an nonfiction book club selection for an upcoming meeting. After reading a fiction book about a friendship between a woman and an octopus in Remarkably Bright Creatures I thought this would be an enlightening and entertaining read. And indeed I did find it fascinating -- I had no idea how intelligent and octopuses are -- but I found my interest waning after about the midpoint of the book. Perhaps I would have preferred a long magazine article on the topic. experiences with octopuses But who knows. Sy Montgomery is a good writer and she certainly makes her very personal. My hope is that words get out so that people know to treat all life as intelligent and worthy of our respect.
Now I'm a little bit worried about our book club discussion, which I'll be leading. Thankfully I found these discussion questions. I think they should give us an opportunity to discuss the merits of the book without too much whining about what we didn't like about it.
My rating: 4 stars our of 5.