The Soul of an Octopus

The Soul of an Octopus Summary

Finalist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction * New York TimesBestseller * Starred Booklist and Library JournalEditors’ Spring Pick * A Huffington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of the Year * One of the Best Books of the Month on Goodreads * Library JournalBest Sci-Tech Book of the Year * An American Library Association Notable Book of the Year

“Sy Montgomery’s The Soul of an Octopus does for the creature what Helen Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk did for raptors.” —New Statesman, UK

“One of the best science books of the year.” —Science Friday, NPR

Another New York Times bestseller from the author of The Good Good Pig, this “fascinating…touching…informative…entertaining” (Daily Beast) book explores the emotional and physical world of the octopus—a surprisingly complex, intelligent, and spirited creature—and the remarkable connections it makes with humans.

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 Octopusreveals what octopuses can teach us about the meeting of two very different minds.

Book Reviews


Amazing5 star

Read this book.55

lucy margaret

Great book4 star

I really enjoyed this book, and I learned a lot about just how incredible octopuses (and cephalopods in general) are. The author’s writing style was very interesting, and I was engaged throughout. My only criticism is that some points felt like more of a biography than a science book. Great read nonetheless!45


I will never eat Octopus again5 star

A wonderful journey into the delightful mind of our favorite cephalopods. Well written and fascinating account of her work as a volunteer at the NE Aquarium. Do yourselves a favor and read this book.55


Romantic Read4 star

I enjoyed reading this authors first experience about meeting her first octopus.45


The Soul of an Octopus5 star

I love this book!! I love the author’s personal journey.55


Weird1 star

The book sounds as if the author is on mushrooms 1/2 the time15


Soul of an Octopus2 star

I do not recommend this book. I wanted it to be good, as i love octopuses, and I have a background in fisheries science. But nothing drew me in. Literarily speaking it is incredibly bland. The science content is a compilation of plenty of quips about what the octopus may be feeling, but with little cohesive empirical evidence to back up the author's observations. It felt incomplete. Bored with the author's personal journey, I found myself wading through this book poking around for and finding some interesting insights, but never finding what the title promised.25


A good memoir-style story3 star

Not quite what I expected, but I didn't do much research before reading. I wanted more crunchy science bits and less personal journey; also more on the philosophy and science of consciousness, both human and octopus. For a general audience looking for a good personal story from an excellent writer, this is a five-star book. Just not for me.35

Farah dababneh

In love5 star

Im am in love with this great book55

Other Books by Sy Montgomery

The Good Good Pig


The Good Good Pig
4.5     29
The Soul of an Octopus


The Soul of an Octopus
4.5     11
Temple Grandin


Temple Grandin
4     17

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