Review: The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery


In this beautiful exploration into the mind of the octopus, Sy Montgomery set out to interact with all the octopi she could find. Along the way, she poked and probed at the question of consciousness — and exactly what the octopus staring back at her might be thinking. Her insight into this mysterious creature garnered this book a place as a National Book Award finalist.

The question of consciousness in animals is an important one — both in terms of recognizing and implementing practices that respect animal welfare, and in researching and understanding more of the world we live in. Montgomery’s lens into the mysterious world of this eight-armed creature provides readers with an opportunity to meet a being from one of the world’s final frontiers — the deep blue sea.

Sy Montgomery does an excellent job of both anthropomorphizing the octopi she meets in an effort to relate (and allow her readers to relate) to this oftentimes foreign creature and speculating on the motivations and inclinations of a conscious being that receives and processes information very differently from humans.

With every octopus Montgomery met and described, I fell deeper and deeper in love with the marvelous, intelligent creature. With the turn of the final page, I was left feeling like I had a whole host of new, many-limbed friends. This was an arresting and engrossing peek behind the curtain of consciousness, and into the psyche of an awe-inspiring cephalopod.



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