Many of you know that I’m away at BEA this week. This year the expo is in Chicago so I flew out here on tuesday and since I’m too tired to socialize tonight (gathering books is surprisingly exhausting), I thought I’d write an update. Read more
Out today, The Pier Falls is Mark Haddon’s latest book. Although I was cutting it down to the wire, I was able to finish and review the book before leaving for Book Expo America. Hope to see some of you there. Here’s what I thought of the book: Read more
I accidentally posted this review a few months ago when it was half finished. It took me a long time to finish writing up my section because it’s hard to review such a monster of a book (monster in length and heaviness of content). I finally got around to finishing my review. Book Worm and I reviewed it together and she was much better and wrapping up her review in a timely manner. Here’s what we thought about the book: Read more
In what is an admittedly self-serving post, I’d like to let our readers know that I will be attending Book Expo this year and am looking for your helpful tips. The giant book convention will take place May 11-May 14 in Chicago. It will be my first time attending and I’m looking for helpful tips and suggestions. I did not register for the bloggers convention but have been debating whether I should try and register for that when I arrive. For those of you have been before, what things do you recommend? Should I attend the bloggers convention on the first day or just wander around exploring on my own?
I’ve been looking forward to attending this all year. My birthday happens to fall in May so I justified taking a week off from my day job as a birthday present to myself.
I’ll be blogging about my experience attending the event and would love to meet up with any fellow bloggers. If you are planning on attending and want to meet up, let me know. I love meeting readers and fellow bloggers! I will be your loyal friend for life if any of you want to join me for lunch or dinner at a Rick Bayless restaurant (I also happen to be obsessed with Top Chef).
The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery
Published in: 2015
National Book Award Finalist
Rating: 4 stars + a favorite
Reviewed by Jen
Find it/buy it here: The Soul of an Octopus
Sy Montgomery’s The Soul of an Octopus is part memoir and part exposé on the world of octopuses. It was nominated for the National Book Award last year although it lost out to Coates’ Between the World and Me. When I first heard about the book, I was intrigued. I love learning about animals and the only thing I knew about octopuses was that they were considered incredibly intelligent.
Who knew that octopuses could be so interesting ― enough so that a whole book about them would fascinate me? Montgomery’s book was a pleasure. I don’t typically read a lot of nonfiction but this book drew me in and made me fall in love with a creature I had previously found quite repulsive. The book is filled with a mix of scientific facts about octopuses and the author’s emotional reactions to them.
Much of the book is based on the author’s experience interacting with a variety of octopuses behind the scenes at the New England Aquarium, although she also pulls in anecdotes from the Seattle Aquarium’s Octopus blind date night (yes, they actually do this and you can watch a video here), and scuba diving in Polynesian waters.
The book is incredibly informative and surprisingly touching. The author describes a plethora of people who have been really touched by their interactions with these smart and personable creatures. Several adolescents seem particularly affected by their interactions with the New England Aquarium octopuses and one girl even claims that her interactions saved her from spiraling into a dark depression after a friend’s suicide.
This book will be a favorite for me but I only gave it 4 stars because I was bothered by two things. First, the author often attributes human emotions, intentions, and thoughts to these octopuses. She does so in a way that reflects her interpretation of their behavior but I found it to be an irritating contrast to the scientific data she presented. This isn’t to say that I don’t believe octopus have such feelings, but rather I don’t believe we can interpret them based on our own thoughts. To be fair, Montgomery doesn’t do this too much but, when she does, it stands out in a bad way.
Second, and most problematic, was that there is one chapter dedicated to her consideration of buying an octopus as a pet. It is hard for me to understand how someone who is so clearly infatuated with a wild animal, would think it appropriate to contribute to a trade that captures them and sells them for personal amusement. If you truly believe that octopuses have unique personalities and use their intelligence to escape their small containers, then how could you possibly think it ethically acceptable to keep one inside your home?
Normally, these two drawbacks would have prevented me from enjoying the book, yet I was still loved it. Any book that is able to move me from being repulsed to wanting to touch an octopus is pretty powerful. Some of the anecdotes brought tears to my eyes and I can honestly say that I will never be able to order octopus at a restaurant again.
Over the winter we hosted a scavenger hunt challenge. One item on the list was a book with beautiful cover. Participants were competing against each other to find (and read) the book with the most beautiful book cover. Now we need your help to pick the winner! The winner of this item will get to take home a beautiful Folio Society edition of a favorite book. Keep reading to vote on which book cover you think is the most beautiful. Read more
Time for our April recap. Find out which books were favorites, which were duds, and which ones we are most looking forward to the following month. We’ll end our wrap up with a a list of books due out in May and a glimpse of our upcoming content. We also want to hear from you so let us know what you read this month and what you look forward to reading next month. Read more
★ Hated it & no redeeming additional qualities noted. Recommend avoiding it.
★★ Disliked it, may have 1 redeeming quality (writing style, novelty, etc).
★★★ Liked it or may have a few interesting qualities.
★★★★ Really liked it & it has at least a couple interesting qualities.
★★★★★ Loved almost everything about it. Only a few, if any, minor limitations noted.
Book Worm’s rating system
★ Bah I really hated this would not even pass this to my worst enemy
★★ I really didn't like this but would consider giving it to my worst enemy for vengeful purposes
★★★ this was an enjoyable way to pass the time not great not horrendous
★★★★ really enjoyed this book there was something about it that made me think
★★★★★ wow I loved this book I am now out recommending it to all my friends, will keep to re read even though I have banned re reads