2022 Falmouth Reads Together

Falmouth Reads Together 2022

Discover the ‘Soul of an Octopus’ with Sy Montgomery

“I have always loved octopuses.  No sci-fi alien is so startlingly strange.  Here is someone who, even if she grows to one hundred pounds and stretches more than eight feet long, could still squeeze her boneless body through an opening the size of an orange; an animal . . . with a beak like a parrot and venom like a snake and a tongue covered with teeth . . . who can shape-shift, change color, and squirt ink.  But most intriguing of all . . . octopuses are remarkably intelligent.”

Falmouth Reads 2022 Books:

Popular naturalist Sy Montgomery explores the emotional and physical world of the octopus – and the remarkable connections this astonishingly complex, spirited creature makes with humans.  She has practiced true immersion journalism, from New England Aquarium tanks to the reefs of French Polynesia and the Gulf of Mexico, in pursuit of these wild, solitary, predatory mollusks.  And she has befriended octopuses with strikingly different personalities – gentle Athena, assertive Octavia, curious Kali, and joyful Karma.  They show their cleverness in myriad ways: escaping enclosures like an orangutan; endless trickery to get food; and jetting water to bounce balls.

The intelligence of dogs, birds, and chimpanzees was only recently accepted by scientists, who now are watching octopuses solve problems and trying to decipher the meaning of their color-changing techniques.  Montgomery chronicles this growing appreciation of the octopus, and also tells a 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.

June events for Falmouth Reads Together

  • Friday June 10, 2pm. Documentary film screening of My Octopus Teacher. Location: Hermann Meeting Room. Duration: one hour; appropriate for most ages. Discussion follows (optional). Register here.
  • Friday June 17, 2pm. Book Discussion: The Soul of an Octopus, by Sy Montgomery. Location: Hermann Meeting Room. Duration: one hour; appropriate for adults or teens. Register here.
  • Friday June 24, 2pm. Documentary film screening of Octopus: Making Contact. Location: Hermann Meeting Room. Duration: one hour; appropriate for most ages. Discussion follows (optional). Register here.

Sy Montgomery is a naturalist, documentary scriptwriter, and author of twenty acclaimed books of nonfiction for adults and children, including the memoir The Good Good Pig, which was a national 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.

“Award-winning author Montgomery reveals [octopuses’] beauty. The book takes readers on a vivid tour of their complex inner world… explores their proclivities, their relationships and their intelligence and ultimately tries to deduce whether they possess consciousness… It is hard to come away from this book without a new appreciation for these wonderful creatures.” – Scientific American

The Soul of an Octopus is an astoundingly beautiful read in its entirety, at once scientifically illuminating and deeply poetic, and is indeed a worthy addition to the best science books of the year.” – Science Friday, NPR

“Naturalist Montgomery writes exceptionally affecting and enlightening books inspired by both rigorous scientific curiosity and enraptured wonder and empathy for all living beings…In prose as gripping and entwining as her subjects’ many arms, Montgomery chronicles the octopus’ phenomenal strength, dexterity, speed… She also tells funny and moving stories about her friendships… Montgomery’s uniquely intimate portrait of the elusive octopus profoundly recalibrates our perception of consciousness, communication, and community.” – Booklist (STARRED review)

“Montgomery’s passion for other species is infectious…[Her] warmth and exuberance…make good reading, and her awe and admiration are uplifting… I felt informed, moved, and inspired – which is all a reader could possibly hope for from a book.” – Union Leader

“Sweet moments are at the heart of Montgomery’s compassionate, wise and tender new book… Only a writer of her talent could make readers care about octopuses as individuals… Joins a growing body of literature that asks us to rethink our connection to nonhumans who may be more like us than we had supposed.” – St. Paul Pioneer Press

“With apparent delight, Montgomery puts readers inside the world of these amazing creatures. A fascinating glimpse into an alien consciousness.” – Kirkus Reviews

“In The Soul of an Octopus, Sy Montgomery immerses readers into an intriguing, seductive world just beneath the ocean waves and the lives of the creatures living within. In this beautifully written book, she brings empathy, insight, and an enchanting sense of wonderment to the bonds we inherently share with other beings—even those seeming far different from us.” – Vint Virga, DVM, The Soul of All Living Creatures

Book and Film Lists for Adults and Children

More Books by Sy Montgomery:

More Adult Books about Cephalopods:

More Adult Books about Animal Consciousness:

Documentary films:

  • My Octopus Teacher, 2020 (only available via Netflix streaming service)
  • Octopus: Making Contact, 2019 (PBS Nature) (on DVD and available to stream at PBS website for members)
More Books for Children:
Picture Books