THE SOUL OF AN OCTOPUS by Montgomery NOTE: Live Online

Women's Biography
Monday, July 8, 7:30 pm

The Women's Biography Book Group is led by Doris Feinsilber and meets the 2nd Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. The book group is meeting online. Participants limited to 20 sign ups. Please contact bookgroups@politics-prose for information.

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness By Sy Montgomery Cover Image

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

$18.99


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Politics and Prose at 5015 Connecticut Avenue NW
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Finalist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction * New York Times Bestseller * 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 the Year * An American Library Association Notable Book of the Year

“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

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

Another New York Times bestseller from the author of The Good Good Pig, this “fascinating…touching…informative…entertaining” (The 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.
Sy Montgomery is a naturalist, adventurer, and author of more than thirty acclaimed books of nonfiction for adults and children, including The Hummingbirds’ GiftThe Hawk’s Way, the National Book Award finalist The Soul of an Octopus, and most recently, Of Time and Turtles, which was 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, writer Howard Mansfield, and a border collie.
Product Details ISBN: 9781451697728
ISBN-10: 1451697724
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication Date: April 5th, 2016
Pages: 272
Language: English
“Enter the mysterious intelligent alien world of the octopus. Experience a real intelligence based on a sense of touch that humans can barely imagine.”
— Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation

"Renowned author Sy Montgomery's latest gem is a must read for those who want to dissolve the human-constructed borders between "them" (other animals) and us. Surely, there are large differences among nonhuman animals and between nonhuman and human animals, but there also are many basic similarities. Connecting with other animals is part of the essential and personal process of rewilding and reconnecting with other animals, and The Soul of an Octopus is just what is needed to close the gap."
— Marc Bekoff, author of The Emotional lives of Animals

"Diving deeper than Jules Verne ever dreamed, The Soul of an Octopus is a page-turning adventure that will leave you breathless. Has science ever been this deliciously hallucinatory? Boneless and beautiful, the characters here are not only big-hearted, they're multi-hearted, as well as smart, charming, affectionate...and, of course, ambidextrous. If there is a Mother Nature, her name is Sy Montgomery."
— Vicki Constantine Croke, author of Elephant Company

"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

“A captivating book on an intelligence as ‘alien’ as one from outer space. And its not science fiction.”
— Bernd Heinrich, author of Mind of the Raven

"Can an octopus have a mind and emotions, let alone a soul? Sy Montgomery faces these questions head-on in her engaging new book as she explores the world of octopuses, making friends with several and finding heartbreak when they die. They aren't, she discovers, simply brainless invertebrates, but personable, playful, conscious beings. Montgomery's enthusiasm for animals most of us rarely see is infectious, and readers will come away with a new appreciation for what it means to be an octopus."
— Virginia Morell, author of ANIMAL WISE: How We Know Animals Think and Feel

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

"The Soul of an Octopus is one of those works that makes you hope we can save the planet if for no other reason than to preserve the wondrous beasts we are fortunate enough to share it with."
— Steve Lysaker, Outward Hounds

"Sy Montgomery’s joyful passion for these intelligent and fascinating creatures will have you rethinking that order of calamari."
— Library Journal Editors' Spring Pick

"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

"I can't do justice to the wonder of this book, the joy and pain and fellowship and grief that Montgomery brings to life with her words...Completely engrossing and accessible."
— malcolmavenuereview.blog

"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 inspird - whieh is all a reader could possibly hope for from a book."
— Union Leader

"An engaging work of natural science... There is clearly something about the octopus’s weird beauty that fires the imaginations of explorers, scientists, writers."
— The Daily Mail - UK

"Delightful."
— NATURE

"Fascinating... touching... informative... Entertaining books like The Soul of an Octopus remind us of just how much we not only have to learn from fellow creatures, but that they can have a positive impact on our lives."


— DAILY BEAST

"A gripping new book bridges the gap between humans and one of this planet's strangest and most wondrous creatures."
— Global Newswire

"Journalistic immersion... allows Montgomery to deliver a deeper understanding of the 'other,' thereby adding to our understanding of ourselves. A good book might illuminate something you knew little about, transform your world view, or move you in ways you didn't think possible. The Soul of an Octopus delivers on all three."
— New Scientist

"Charming and moving...with extraordinary scientific research."
— The Guardian (UK)

"[Montgomery's] compassion and respect for the species make for a buoying read."
— Newsday

"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)

"Informative and entertaining, part memoir and part scientific exploration, reminds us that if we are the best creatures on the planet at thinking, we can benefit by thinking about the creatures that may be doing it in some other way."
— Columbus Dispatch

"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)

“What makes this book unusual is that Montgomery doesn't try to answer this question [about consciousness] by sifting through piles of research. Instead, she ... listens. She develops extensive relationships with a handful of individual octopuses at the New England Aquarium, each with its own personality, its mundane dramas and tragedies. She records every small moment, treating each octopus like a character in a Jane Austen novel. The effect is wonderful. By the end, it's hard to shake the feeling that these bizarre creatures really do have rich internal lives, even if we still lack the imagination to grasp them entirely.“
— Vox

“Montgomery’s journey of discovery encourages the reader to reflect on his or her own definition of consciousness and 'soul.' In the end, the book leaves one with the impression that our way of interacting with the world is not the only way or the most superior way and that sentience similarly comes in a variety of equally astounding forms, all worthy of recognition and compassion.”
— Science Magazine

“Montgomery’s journey of discovery encourages the reader to reflect on his or her own definition of consciousness and “soul.” In the end, the book leaves one with the impression that our way of interacting with the world is not the only way or the most superior way and that sentience similarly comes in a variety of equally astounding forms, all worthy of recognition and compassion.”
— Shelf Awareness, Best Book of 2015 List

A Notable Book of the Year
— Huffington Post

"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

"This miraculously insightful and enchanting book expands our understanding of consciousness and sheds light on the very notion of what we call a “soul.”…. The book’s greatest reward isn’t the fascinating science — although that is riveting and ablaze with rigor — but Montgomery’s bewitching prose, pouring from the soul of a literary naturalist who paints the marvels of the ocean’s depths like Thoreau did the marvels of the New England woods."
— Brainpickings

“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

2016 Notable Book
— American Library Association

UNRAVELING by Orenstein NOTE: Meeting Online

Women's Biography
Monday, May 13, 7:30 pm

The Women's Biography Book Group is led by Doris Feinsilber and meets the 2nd Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. The book group is meeting online. Participants limited to 20 sign ups. Please contact bookgroups@politics-prose for information.

Unraveling: What I Learned About Life While Shearing Sheep, Dyeing Wool, and Making the World's Ugliest Sweater By Peggy Orenstein Cover Image

Unraveling: What I Learned About Life While Shearing Sheep, Dyeing Wool, and Making the World's Ugliest Sweater (Paperback)

$18.99


In Stock—Click for Locations
Politics and Prose at 5015 Connecticut Avenue NW
2 on hand, as of May 23 5:20am
Politics and Prose at The Wharf (610 Water St SW)
1 on hand, as of May 23 6:20am
Politics and Prose at Union Market (1324 4th Street NE)
1 on hand, as of May 23 5:35am

“Orenstein is such a breezy, funny writer, it’s easy to forget she’s an important thinker too.”—People

In this lively, funny memoir, Peggy Orenstein sets out to make a sweater from scratch—shearing, spinning, dyeing wool—and in the process discovers how we find our deepest selves through craft. Orenstein spins a yarn that will appeal to everyone.  

The COVID pandemic propelled many people to change their lives in ways large and small. Some adopted puppies. Others stress-baked. Peggy Orenstein, a lifelong knitter, went just a little further. To keep herself engaged and cope with a series of seismic shifts in family life, she set out to make a garment from the ground up: learning to shear sheep, spin and dye yarn, then knitting herself a sweater.

Orenstein hoped the project would help her process not just wool but her grief over the recent death of her mother and the decline of her dad, the impending departure of her college-bound daughter, and other thorny issues of aging as a woman in a culture that by turns ignores and disdains them. What she didn’t expect was a journey into some of the major issues of our time: climate anxiety, racial justice, women’s rights, the impact of technology, sustainability, and, ultimately, the meaning of home.

With her wry voice, sharp intelligence, and exuberant honesty, Orenstein shares her year-long journey as daughter, wife, mother, writer, and maker—and teaches us all something about creativity and connection. 

Peggy Orenstein is the New York Times bestselling author of Boys & SexDon’t Call Me PrincessGirls & SexCinderella Ate My DaughterWaiting for DaisyFlux, and Schoolgirls. A frequent contributor to the New York Times, she has written for the Washington PostThe AtlanticAfar, The New Yorker, and other publications, and has contributed commentary to NPR’s All Things Considered and PBS NewsHour. She lives in Northern California.

Product Details ISBN: 9780063081734
ISBN-10: 0063081733
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Publication Date: January 23rd, 2024
Pages: 224
Language: English

"The last few years have unspooled us all. Peggy Orenstein gathers us close, then weaves something hopeful and new in this surprisingly moving yarn about yarn." — Bonnie Tsui, bestselling author of Why We Swim and American Chinatown

Unraveling is a delight. A meditation on life, and how, if we miss a step (or a stitch), our lives (our sweaters) can unravel at record speed. Funny, moving, and brilliantly written and researched. I will never look at sheep again without a sense of wonder and awe." — Julianna Margulies

"A charming memoir of a quietly transformative year." — Kirkus Reviews

"This snapshot of creative self-discovery will enlighten readers." — Publishers Weekly

"Entertaining and informative . . . . Orenstein tenaciously approaches her subject from every angle, literally wrestling it to the ground . . . . While Orenstein’s garment is the work of an amateur, this book is anything but." — Washington Post

"This witty, irreverent memoir is, at heart, extremely serious . . . . Tucked among these tasks, which she tackles with verve and writes about with breezy humor, are lessons about the origins of clothing, the importance of women's work and the enormous toll the garment industry takes on the environment."”” — Star Tribune

"A larger-than-expected journey . . . . By book’s end, the reader is ready to identify deep, intrinsic beauty in anything that difficult to create. You just may need to read the book to see that." — San Francisco Chronicle

"Dedicated crafters will particularly enjoy this pandemic-times memoir, but the appeal goes far beyond. The sweater may be ugly, but the journey is beautiful." — Booklist

"Orenstein recounts her adventures in learning new skills with the openness and keen observations of a wise friend. This is a delight to read and will be of interest not only to crafters but also to anyone who’s learned something new as an adult." — Library Journal

"Illuminating, informative and often funny . . . . Orenstein is an impressively intrepid figure throughout this charming and candid memoir in essays . . . . An entertaining chronicle of a challenging year wonderfully well spent. Creativity and craft can soothe anxiety, encourage connection and spark joy; Orenstein’s book will do the same." — BookPage



EMPRESS OF THE NILE by Olson NOTE: Meeting Online

Women's Biography
Monday, May 13, 7:30 pm

The Women's Biography Book Group is led by Doris Feinsilber and meets the 2nd Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. The book group is meeting online. Participants limited to 20 sign ups. Please contact bookgroups@politics-prose for information.

Empress of the Nile: The Daredevil Archaeologist Who Saved Egypt's Ancient Temples from Destruction By Lynne Olson Cover Image

Empress of the Nile: The Daredevil Archaeologist Who Saved Egypt's Ancient Temples from Destruction (Paperback)

$23.00


In Stock—Click for Locations
Politics and Prose at 5015 Connecticut Avenue NW
4 on hand, as of May 23 5:20am
Politics and Prose at The Wharf (610 Water St SW)
1 on hand, as of May 23 6:20am
Politics and Prose at Union Market (1324 4th Street NE)
1 on hand, as of May 23 5:35am
New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice • The remarkable story of the intrepid French archaeologist who led the international effort to save ancient Egyptian temples from the floodwaters of the Aswan Dam, by the New York Times bestselling author of Madame Fourcade’s Secret War

“A female version of the Indiana Jones story . . . [Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt] was a daredevil whose real-life antics put Hollywood fiction to shame.”—The Guardian

In the 1960s, the world’s attention was focused on a nail-biting race against time: the international campaign to save a dozen ancient Egyptian temples from drowning in the floodwaters of the gigantic new Aswan High Dam. But the coverage of this unprecedented rescue effort completely overlooked the daring French archaeologist who made it all happen. Without the intervention of Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt, the temples—including the Temple of Dendur, now at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art—would currently be at the bottom of a vast reservoir. It was an unimaginably complex project that required the fragile sandstone temples to be dismantled and rebuilt on higher ground.

Willful and determined, Desroches-Noblecourt refused to be cowed by anyone or anything. As a member of the French Resistance in World War II she survived imprisonment by the Nazis; in her fight to save the temples she defied two of the most daunting leaders of the postwar world, Egypt’s President Abdel Nasser and France’s President Charles de Gaulle. As she told one reporter, “You don’t get anywhere without a fight, you know.”

Desroches-Noblecourt also received help from a surprising source. Jacqueline Kennedy, America’s new First Lady, persuaded her husband to help fund the rescue effort. After a century and a half of Western plunder of Egypt’s ancient monuments, Desroches-Noblecourt helped instead to preserve a crucial part of that cultural heritage.
Lynne Olson is the New York Times bestselling author of Madame Fourcade’s Secret War, Last Hope Island, Those Angry Days, and Citizens of London. She has been a consulting historian for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. She lives in Washington, D.C.
Product Details ISBN: 9780525509486
ISBN-10: 0525509488
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Publication Date: February 20th, 2024
Pages: 448
Language: English
“Olson relates in this fast-paced, highly entertaining book. The highlight of Olson’s book is her thrilling account of the rescue of the giant statues of Rameses II and the Abu Simbel temples from inundation by the Aswan High Dam.”The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)

“Olson, whose many previous books spotlight unsung heroes and heroines of that war, is here at her best . . . Empress of the Nile tells her story well, embedding it in the history of modern Egyptian archaeology. Empress of the Nile is a welcome and needed work of both rescue and reclamation.”—The Washington Post

“Olson provides a gripping account of an extraordinary life.”Booklist, starred review

“Enriched by fascinating digressions into Egyptian history, museum rivalries, the plundering of archaeological sites, the 1956 Suez Crisis, and more, this is a captivating portrait of a pathbreaking woman. Readers will be enthralled.”Publishers Weekly, starred review

“A well-documented and sensitive portrait of a remarkable woman who shared her passion for Egypt and inspired so many others to find their calling, myself included, while at the same time helping to reinvigorate the Louvre.”—Henri Loyrette, Honorary President and Director of the Louvre Museum    

“Lynne Olson’s many fans know her gift for storytelling and bringing to life heroes who may not be well known but demand—indeed, rivet—our attention. Readers will devour this wonderful book.”—Evan Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of First: Sandra Day O’Connor

“An exhilarating, in-depth look at a woman whose courage never faltered. Olson’s richly detailed biography takes the reader for a magnificent ride in this heart-stopping read.”—Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Magnolia Palace

“Once again, Lynne Olson introduces us to a modern heroine who defied the odds and achieved historic results. With her signature deep research and compassion for quirky characters, Olson spins an inspiring tale with a sometimes surprising cast. Empress of the Nile is a tonic for our times and a reminder that one unstoppable woman can bend history to her will.”—Kati Marton, New York Times bestselling author of The Chancellor

Empress of the Nile is the best sort of micro history: both an intimate portrait of a groundbreaking woman and a whirlwind tour through the major events and personalities of the twentieth century. To anyone who ever tossed a coin into the waters around the Temple of Dendur—you must read this book.”—Lauren Willig, New York Times bestselling author of Band of Sisters

“Lynne Olson has found yet another fascinating, unsung heroine: a French archaeologist with the moxie to take on the Egyptians, the Americans and the French to save historic Egyptian temples.”—Meryl Gordon, author of three biographies including Bunny Mellon: The Life of an American Style Legend

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