The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness

Front Cover
Simon and Schuster, May 12, 2015 - Nature - 272 pages
2 Reviews
Finalist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction

New York Times Bestseller

“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

Starred Booklist and Library Journal Editors’ Spring Pick

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

A Huffington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of the Year

One of the Best Books of the Month on Goodreads

Library Journal Best Sci-Tech Book of 2015

An American Library Association Notable Book of the Year

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

What people are saying - Write a review

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness

User Review  - Lisa Peet - Book Verdict

This book's big reveal may be up front in the title, but that doesn't detract from the delight of discovering just what, exactly, an octopus's soul might look like. Naturalist Montgomery (The Good ... Read full review

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness

User Review  - Sy Montgomery - Publishers Weekly

The ever-curious Montgomery (author of Temple Grandin), a naturalist who writes books for children and adults alike, sets out on a quest to learn what it's like to be an octopus after she meets an ... Read full review


Beginning Ending and ShapeShifting
The Art of Breathing in the Ocean
Freedom Desire and Escape
Choice Destiny and Love
Selected Bibliography
About the Author

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2015)

Sy Montgomery is a naturalist, documentary scriptwriter, and author of twenty acclaimed books of nonfiction for adults and children, including the National Book Award finalist The Soul of an Octopus and the memoir The Good Good Pig, a New York Times bestseller. The recipient of numerous honors, including lifetime achievement awards from the Humane Society and the New England Booksellers Association, she lives in New Hampshire with her husband, border collie, and flock of chickens.

Bibliographic information