The Soul of an Octopus – A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery


I had mixed feelings about this book. I loved this book and I didn’t love this book. I read through some sections grinning from ear to ear, amazed and delighted at what I was reading and learning. I read some pages through tears, heartbroken and shocked that an unknown creature could bring me to tears. The compassion and respect with which Sy Montgomery writes about octopuses is a beautiful thing and, when she is just writing about them, this is an extraordinary book. She opens our eyes to the astounding, intelligent, emotional beings that cephalopods are. I learned so much about them – their physiology, biology, evolutionary history. But then there were times when the book just got too precious for me, I don’t know how else to describe it, and her writing felt somehow forced. I wanted her to stick to being a naturalist, being a science writer, and stop attempting to stretch metaphors. Thankfully, those sections were in the minority and most of the book was an excellent read.

I am very glad to have read this book. It makes me want to further my understanding and experience of these startling creatures. They are so bizarre, so completely unlike any known animal, absolutely fascinating. And yet we share much with them.

4 comments on “The Soul of an Octopus – A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery”

    1. Oh, Barbara, this book had been on my “to read” list for two or three years, ever since I read a review of it. And it wasn’t just the octopus that interested me, but the conversation about consciousness and intelligence. But it was the octopuses that won my heart. They are astounding creatures, so intelligent. It is believed that their intelligence is a direct evolutionary result of their incredible vulnerability. Think about it, they have absolutely no external protection from predation. So they depend on wit and cunning and intelligence. Some of the tales told about what they can and have done are unbelievable. And most are social and affectionate in their interactions with humans. Made me want to rush off to the nearest aquarium and look one in the eye…

      Liked by 1 person

  1. When I was in third grade I wrote about squid biology for a report — one of the hardest academic endeavors I can recall, no joke.

    I watch a lot of nature videos and ocean dwellers are definitely a particular fave.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Borkali, I watch “Nature” on PBS. And as for ocean dwellers, how about those little puffer fish fellas who make those nests in the sand that look like underwater crop circles? That one I had to show to my spousal unit.

      Thanks, JNaz. I’ve been wondering about this book ever since it showed up in your book title cento!

      Liked by 1 person

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