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Last Child in the Woods

Gray jay bird on a tree branch in the woods

Last Child in the Woods dives deep into the reasons why we’re spending less time in nature–and what the future might look like if we don’t go back outside.

The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery

Book Review: The Soul of An Octopus by Sy Montgomery | Jest Kept Secret

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read my affiliate policy here.  Title: The Soul of an Octopus Author: Sy Montgomery Genre: Non-Fiction Blurb 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. – Goodreads My Thoughts I will never look at octopodes[1] the same way again. This book chronicles the surprising relationships Montgomery forms with a series of octopus friends, as well as the human friends that join her on her journey of discovery. Montgomery provides thought-provoking insights into the meaning of intelligence, desire, consciousness, and mortality as she tries to comprehend the reality of a perspective so completely different from our own own—and yet, it is a perspective which doesn’t seem altogether unfamiliar. Told with the same loving, respectful, and curious voice that I came to love in The Good, Good Pig, The Soul of an Octopus was an instant favorite. With Montgomery’s record sitting at 2 for 2, I think I really need to read more of her work. Score: An emphatic [clear]   And don’t forget to save this book to your Pinterest reading list! Thanks! [1] I learned recently that the plural form of “octopus” is not actually octopi, as most people believe. It’s octopodes because the word “octopus” is Greek. Pluralizing with an “-i” suffix is a Latin rule.

H is for Hawk

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read my affiliate policy here.  Title: H is for Hawk Author: Helen MacDonald Genre: Memoir Content Warning: Brief, scattered language Blurb When Helen Macdonald’s father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer—Helen had been captivated by hawks since childhood—she’d never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk. But in her grief, she saw that the goshawk’s fierce and feral temperament mirrored her own. Resolving to purchase and raise the deadly creature as a means to cope with her loss, she adopted Mabel, and turned to the guidance of The Once and Future King author T.H. White’s chronicle The Goshawk to begin her challenging endeavor. Projecting herself “in the hawk’s wild mind to tame her” tested the limits of Macdonald’s humanity and changed her life. Heart-wrenching and humorous, this book is an unflinching account of bereavement and a unique look at the magnetism of an extraordinary beast, with a parallel examination of a legendary writer’s eccentric falconry. Obsession, madness, memory, myth, and history combine to achieve a distinctive blend of nature writing and memoir from an outstanding literary innovator. – Goodreads My Thoughts I have always had a strong interest in raptors and falconry, and was interested in this book solely because it had “hawk” in the title (hence its appropriateness for the assigned book challenge cattegory). H is for Hawk is extremely well written, and this is one of those rare occasions when I think a book lives up to its best seller hype. The descriptions of the English countryside made me pine for my home across the sea, and I love love loved Mabel the goshawk. The central core of the story—Helen’s grief over her father’s death—is handled with grace and raw honesty. And the prose was gorgeous. MacDonald definitely has a way with words. The only thing I didn’t love was how much page time was devoted to T. H. White and his own goshawk, Gos, about which he wrote a book called—go figure—The Goshawk. While some of the details were nice and it provided a nice juxtaposition for Helen’s own experience training Mabel, it felt at times like a rather tedious book review. I would rather just read The Goshawk myself instead of a synopsis scattered throughout another book. This would have been a solid 4 without it. Score:  

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