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There Is No Reason to Cross the U.S. by Train. But I Did It Anyway.

Return to Book Page. In pursuit of the wild, solitary, predatory octopus, popular naturalist Sy Montgomery has practiced true immersion journalism.

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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 In pursuit of the wild, solitary, predatory octopus, popular naturalist Sy Montgomery has practiced true immersion journalism.

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. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews.


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To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Soul of an Octopus , please sign up. Why are humans so pretentious to assume that other animals don't think, don't feel, don't have consciousness, don't evolve, don't value life as we do? Linda Grant The book is primarily about the connections that the author, a naturalist working with the Boston Aquarium, made with several octopuses living there.

The author learned that these animals can think, solve problems, and have an emotional life as well. See all 5 questions about The Soul of an Octopus…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Apr 09, Bethany Johnsen rated it it was ok Shelves: non-fiction , arcs , science , animals , 21st-century.

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I'm kind of "eh" on this book. It bills itself as a "surprising exploration into the wonder of consciousness," I guess because it shares a few fun facts about octopus neurology e. Thomas Nagel in passing. Can we even know? Also, the answer is NO.


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Very obviously no. I would have been less bothered by philosophical shortcomings if there was more actual information about octopuses. Many of the anecdotes are not that surprising to someone who knows anything about octopuses to begin with. There's something to be learned for sure, but most of the book is not educating you about octopuses. It's mostly a memoir of the author hanging out at an aquarium getting to touch octopuses, which is super cool, and also learning to scuba dive and swim with them.

It wasn't that exciting just to read about it. The first chapter of this book was originally an article that went viral, and it seems like the amount of content here is more suitable for something article-length. As an octopus lover your time might be better spent watching a documentary or reading a different book.

Also, as an animal lover, I would have appreciated more consideration of the ethics of keeping wild sea creatures in tanks. The only mention of this occurs when Montgomery describes how a certain individual who catches wild octopuses for aquariums has no regrets because displaying octopuses to the public is necessary for people to care about their preservation in the wild.

We don't actually get any evidence that this is true, and it seemed to me like a flip way to dismiss the very real concerns that I had when I learned about a young, growing octopus being kept in a dark gallon tank with no mental stimulation, all because an older display octopus didn't die as early as anticipated. These are very intelligent animals the main takeaway of the book they need stimulation! They hunt and explore in the ocean all day. It seems downright abusive. Other bad things happen to octopuses in the book that are unsettling, and left me wondering about the intelligence of our own species.

View all 41 comments. Mar 28, Wil Wheaton rated it it was amazing. It's such a beautiful book, such an incredible story. I already loved octopuses, but this book deepened and strengthened my love for them, and all cephalopods. It's an easy read, and by the time you're finished, you'll be asking yourself questions about consciousness, inter-species communication, and maybe even feeling a little more of a bond with the fishes who live in your aquarium I know that I did. View all 9 comments.

Catherine Ragazzi, R. I have had a few "religious experiences" with these very aware creatures.


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I enjoyed reading it twice and then passed on the two hardback books to other friends. I've been fascinated by interspecies communication and relationships since I was a youngin.. This is a delightful addition to the information that I have gained over the years. A quick easy read that tempted me to go visit the Monterey bay aquarium to see the friendly octopus they have on exhibit.. Enjoy and learn something , read this little book.

Eileen Didn't it bother you how these animals were treated? Being stolen from the wild and forced to live in horrible conditions for the "enlightenment" of h Didn't it bother you how these animals were treated? Being stolen from the wild and forced to live in horrible conditions for the "enlightenment" of humans? Oct 11, P-eggy rated it it was ok Shelves: read , dnf-or-never-read , animals-ethology , reviews , medicine-science.

I had previously read Journey of the Pink Dolphins: An Amazon Quest by this author and had to give it up because it contained very little fact, an awful lot of conjecture and far too much about Sy Montgomery who obviously finds the preoccupations of her spiritual soul far more fascinating than I do. So this time, wanting to read about octopuses I thought I would listen to the book. It was worse! This is because the author read it herself and it's purpleness, it's fruitiness was increased by her e I had previously read Journey of the Pink Dolphins: An Amazon Quest by this author and had to give it up because it contained very little fact, an awful lot of conjecture and far too much about Sy Montgomery who obviously finds the preoccupations of her spiritual soul far more fascinating than I do.

This is because the author read it herself and it's purpleness, it's fruitiness was increased by her emphasis on meaningless similes, one after the other. Her favourite word is, 'like' as in the egg trails of the octopus are like a wedding veil but more beautiful than any Simile on the next line too, about gossamer cobwebs, diamond air bubbles and golden Why write one when two can fill the space?

After several boring chapters on the author learning to scuba dive along with descriptions of her tutors and friends including their neurological problems how they had come about their nicknames and lots of similes, I finally got to this all in two paragraphs. Is this what Kali and Octavia [her two favourite octopuses feel like all the time? Not enough science, too much conjecture, I don't really believe that octopuses tease people for a joke and get their own back on people and then float with smirking expressions she has imagined on their imaginary faces.

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Remind me never to read another Sy Montgomery book. One and a half stars because I did learn something about the individuality of octopuses which I would really like to know more of and an extra star because she is very good friends with the brilliant anthropologist and ethologist Elizabeth Marshall Thomas who is one of my very favourite authors. View all 34 comments. Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

Although occasionally repetitive, The Soul of an Octopus is a tearful, informative, and memorable love note to octopuses - those strange yet wondrous creatures, intelligent and brimming with personality, that captivate and terrify in equal measure. View all 15 comments. I had to read this book today because it was due back on Overdrive, so this is going to be a short review until I get my OWN paperback copy.

This book made me cry!!! The creatures and the people both had me torn up at times. I'm a wildlife lover and activist so I try to branch out into different books on creatures I know nothing about.

I was worried this was going to be another textbook style read and I don't like those. I never even thought an octopus could have such a wonderful memory, could play, could hug you in their own way or shoot water in your face if they didn't like you or wanted to play. There are so many other things I learned. The people in the book were amazing too. I don't agree with everything but these were people that did the best they could for their animals and family members. There is even a little girl in the book who is helped by the Octopuses with her Autism and her suicide attempt.

This was just a wonderful book and I will do a more in depth review, hopefully with some of their pictures and some stories.