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Friday, January 11, 2019

Book Review: The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery (audio)

So last year I listened to a different octopus book, Other Minds, and I was afraid this would tread a lot of the same ground, but I love Ms. Montgomery's writing so I was willing to give it a chance anyway. Luckily, they cover very little of the same material, so if one book interests you, you should pick up the other.

This one does tell you A LOT about octopuses (no, they are not octopii. You can't put a Latin ending on a Greek word.) But it's more about Sy's personal relationship with a series on octopuses she befriends at the New England Aquarium. From Athena to Octavia to Kali, these octopuses have very distinctive personalities and are whip-smart. They love puzzle boxes and taking things apart and they can squeeze through bizarrely tiny openings, making them particularly difficult animals to contain. While light on science, Ms. Montgomery's background is in studying animals and she understand that these few specimens aren't a large enough number to study, they do have some striking similarities that must inevitably lead you to believe in their intelligence and individualism in a way that makes me uncomfortable to ever eat octopus again (luckily, it's not a favorite food at all, so easy to cut out. Sorry, Penny.)

If you're interested in the lives of animals, as opposed to the science, and if and how they can have relationships with humans, but are tired of all the dog and cat books, this book is perfect for you. If you also want to know the science, pick up Other Minds as well. It's a great companion. I found this book a delight.

I listened to this book through Libby/Overdrive via my local library.

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