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Title: The Soul of an Octopus
Author: Sy Montgomery
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.
I will never look at octopodes 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 (5 / 5)
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 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.