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About Sy Montgomery
Th author of the national bestseller, The Good Good Pig, as well as 15 other celebrated nonfiction books, Montgomery writes for print as well as broadcast in an effort to reach as wide an audience as possible at what she considers a critical turning point in human history. "We are on the cusp of either destroying this sweet, green Earth or revolutionizing the way we understand the rest of animate creation," she says. "It's an important time to be writing about the connections we share with our fellow creatures. It's a great time to be alive."
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Sy Montgomery, New York Times best-selling author and recipient of numerous awards, edits this year’s volume of the finest science and nature writing.
“Science is important because this is how we seek to discover the truth about the world. And this is what makes excellent science and nature writing essential,” observes New York Times best-selling author Sy Montgomery. “Science and nature writing are how we share the truth about the universe with the people of the world.” And collected here are truths about nearly every corner of the universe. From meditations on extinction, to the search for alien life, to the prejudice that infects our medical system, the pieces in this year’s Best American Science and Nature Writing seek to bring to the people stories of some of the most pressing issues facing our planet, as well as moments of wonder reflecting the immense beauty our natural world offers.
“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” (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.
—John Grogan, author of Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog
A naturalist who spent months at a time living on her own among wild creatures in remote jungles, Sy Montgomery had always felt more comfortable with animals than with people. So she gladly opened her heart to a sick piglet who had been crowded away from nourishing meals by his stronger siblings. Yet Sy had no inkling that this piglet, later named Christopher Hogwood, would not only survive but flourish—and she soon found herself engaged with her small-town community in ways she had never dreamed possible. Unexpectedly, Christopher provided this peripatetic traveler with something she had sought all her life: an anchor (eventually weighing 750 pounds) to family and home.
The Good Good Pig celebrates Christopher Hogwood in all his glory, from his inauspicious infancy to hog heaven in rural New Hampshire, where his boundless zest for life and his large, loving heart made him absolute monarch over a (mostly) peaceable kingdom. At first, his domain included only Sy’s cosseted hens and her beautiful border collie, Tess. Then the neighbors began fetching Christopher home from his unauthorized jaunts, the little girls next door started giving him warm, soapy baths, and the villagers brought him delicious leftovers. His intelligence and fame increased along with his girth. He was featured in USA Today and on several National Public Radio environmental programs. On election day, some voters even wrote in Christopher’s name on their ballots.
But as this enchanting book describes, Christopher Hogwood’s influence extended far beyond celebrity; for he was, as a friend said, a great big Buddha master. Sy reveals what she and others learned from this generous soul who just so happened to be a pig—lessons about self-acceptance, the meaning of family, the value of community, and the pleasures of the sweet green Earth. The Good Good Pig provides proof that with love, almost anything is possible.
National Book Award finalist Sy Montgomery reflects on the personalities and quirks of 13 animals—her friends—who have profoundly affected her in this stunning, poetic, and life-affirming memoir featuring illustrations by Rebecca Green.
Understanding someone who belongs to another species can be transformative. No one knows this better than author, naturalist, and adventurer Sy Montgomery. To research her books, Sy has traveled the world and encountered some of the planet’s rarest and most beautiful animals. From tarantulas to tigers, Sy’s life continually intersects with and is informed by the creatures she meets.
This restorative memoir reflects on the personalities and quirks of thirteen animals—Sy’s friends—and the truths revealed by their grace. It also explores vast themes: the otherness and sameness of people and animals; the various ways we learn to love and become empathetic; how we find our passion; how we create our families; coping with loss and despair; gratitude; forgiveness; and most of all, how to be a good creature in the world.
Snowball is a cockatoo whose dance video went viral on YouTube and who’s now teaching schoolchildren how to dance. You’ll meet Harris’s hawks named Fire and Smoke. And you’ll come to know and love a host of other avian characters who will change your mind forever about who birds really are.
Each of these birds shows a different and utterly surprising aspect of what makes a bird a bird—and these are the lessons of Birdology: that birds are far stranger, more wondrous, and at the same time more like us than we might have dared to imagine. In Birdology, beloved author of The Good Good Pig Sy Montgomery explores the essence of the otherworldly creatures we see every day. By way of her adventures with seven birds—wild, tame, exotic, and common—she weaves new scientific insights and narrative to reveal seven kernels of bird wisdom.
The first lesson of Birdology is that, no matter how common they are, Birds Are Individuals, as each of Montgomery’s distinctive Ladies clearly shows. In the leech-infested rain forest of Queensland, you’ll come face to face with a cassowary—a 150-pound, man-tall, flightless bird with a helmet of bone on its head and a slashing razor-like toenail with which it (occasionally) eviscerates people—proof that Birds Are Dinosaurs. You’ll learn from hawks that Birds Are Fierce; from pigeons, how Birds Find Their Way Home; from parrots, what it means that Birds Can Talk; and from 50,000 crows who moved into a small city’s downtown, that Birds Are Everywhere. They are the winged aliens who surround us.
Birdology explains just how very "other" birds are: Their hearts look like those of crocodiles. They are covered with modified scales, which are called feathers. Their bones are hollow. Their bodies are permeated with extensive air sacs. They have no hands. They give birth to eggs. Yet despite birds’ and humans’ disparate evolutionary paths, we share emotional and intellectual abilities that allow us to communicate and even form deep bonds. When we begin to comprehend who birds really are, we deepen our capacity to approach, understand, and love these otherworldly creatures. And this, ultimately, is the priceless lesson of Birdology: it communicates a heartfelt fascination and awe for birds and restores our connection to these complex, mysterious fellow creatures.
By the acclaimed author of The Soul of an Octopus and the bestselling memoir The Good Good Pig.
When Sy Montgomery ventured into the Amazon to unlock the mysteries of the littleknown pink dolphins, she found ancient whales that plied the Amazon River at dawn and dusk, swam through treetops in flooded forests, and performed underwater ballets with their flexible bodies. But she soon found out that to know the botos, as the dolphins are locally called, you must also know the people who live among them.
And so in Journey of the Pink Dolphins, Montgomery—part naturalist, part poet, part Indiana Jones—winds her way through watery tributaries and riverside villages, searching for botos and hearing the tales of locals who believe these ethereal dolphins are shape-shifters—creatures that emerge from the water as splendidly dressed men or women only to enchant their human onlookers, capture their souls, and then carry them away to the Encante, an underwater world. Montgomery takes readers on four separate journeys, exploring the river-dwelling dolphins’ natural history, chronicling their conservation pressures, unraveling their prehistoric roots, and visiting with shamans who delve into the Encante.
Yellow blood? Skeletons on the outside? These attributes don’t belong to comic book characters or alien life forms, but to Earth’s biggest and hairiest spiders: tarantulas. In this book you are invited to follow Sam Marshall, spider scientist extraordinaire (he’s never been bitten), as he explores the dense rain forest of French Guiana, knocking on the doors of tarantula burrows, trying to get a closer look at these incredible creatures. You’ll also visit the largest comparative spider laboratory in America—where close to five hundred live tarantulas sit in towers of stacked shoeboxes and plastic containers, waiting for their turn to dazzle and astound the scientists who study them.
“Superb color photos abound in this spectacular series addition…This is a vivid look at an enthusiastic scientist energetically and happily at work…A treat, even for arachnophobes.”—School Library Journal (starred review)
A Sibert Honor Book
An ALA Notable Book
A John Burroughs Nature Book for Young Readers
A Kirkus Reviews Editors Choice
From the author of The Soul of an Octopus and bestselling memoir The Good Good Pig, a book that earned Sy Montgomery her status as one of the most celebrated wildlife writers of our time, Spell of the Tiger brings readers to the Sundarbans, a vast tangle of mangrove swamp and tidal delta that lies between India and Bangladesh. It is the only spot on earth where tigers routinely eat people—swimming silently behind small boats at night to drag away fishermen, snatching honey collectors and woodcutters from the forest. But, unlike in other parts of Asia where tigers are rapidly being hunted to extinction, tigers in the Sundarbans are revered. With the skill of a naturalist and the spirit of a mystic, Montgomery reveals the delicate balance of Sundarbans life, explores the mix of worship and fear that offers tigers unique protection there, and unlocks some surprising answers about why people at risk of becoming prey might consider their predator a god.
Extraordinary new insights into the minds and lives of our fellow creatures from two of the world’s top animal authors, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas and Sy Montgomery.
A Mail on Sunday “Critic's Pick” Best Read of the Year
"In their writing and in their lives and in their remarkable friendship, Liz and Sy break down false barriers and carry us closer to our fellow creatures.”—from the foreword by Vicki Constantine Croke, author of Elephant Company
Tamed and Untamed―a collection of essays penned by two of the world's most celebrated animal writers, Sy Montgomery and Elizabeth Marshall Thomas―explores the minds, lives, and mysteries of animals as diverse as snails, house cats, hawks, sharks, dogs, lions, and even octopuses.
Drawing on stories of animals both wild and domestic, the two authors, also best friends, created this book to put humans back into the animal world. The more we learn about what other animals think and do, they explain, the more we understand ourselves as animals, too. Writes Montgomery, “The list of attributes once thought to be unique to our species―from using tools to waging war―is not only rapidly shrinking, but starting to sound less and less impressive when we compare them with other animals’ powers.”
With humor, empathy, and introspection, Montgomery and Thomas look into the lives of all kinds of creatures―from man’s best friend to the great white shark―and examine the ways we connect with our fellow species. Both authors have devoted their lives to sharing the animal kingdom’s magic with others, and their combined wisdom is an indispensable contribution to the field of animal literature.
The book contains a foreword by Vicki Constantine Croke, author of the bestseller Elephant Company.
In April of 1987 the last wild California condor was captured and taken to live in captivity like the other twenty-six remaining birds of its kind. Many thought that the days were over of of this remarkable, distinguished bird that had roamed the skies of North and Central American for thousands of years.
Sy Montgomery employs her skill for on-the-ground reporting, shrewd observation, and stunning narrative prose to detail the efforts of scientists, volunteers, and everyday citizens to get California condors back in the wild. In particular, Montgomery profiles employees at the Santa Barbara Zoo who have worked tirelessly to raise abandoned chicks, nurse sick birds back to health, and conduct research that can support legislation to ban what is probably the largest threat to the existence of the wild condor: lead bullets. In turns affectionate and frustrated, hopeful and heartbreaking, Montgomery’s powerful prose does justice to these ancient, sociable, and elegant creatures.
Complete with world-class, full-color photography and helpful sidebars that provide details such as the history of the bird’s fight back from extinction, the dangers of lead poisoning, and the relationship of condors to the Chumash nation, Condor Comeback is an inspiring story of groundbreaking science, perseverance, and cooperation.
2017 is the 50th anniversary of The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda.
Three astounding women scientists have in recent years penetrated the jungles of Africa and Borneo to observe, nurture, and defend humanity's closest cousins. Jane Goodall has worked with the chimpanzees of Gombe for nearly 50 years; Diane Fossey died in 1985 defending the mountain gorillas of Rwanda; and Biruté Galdikas lives in intimate proximity to the orangutans of Borneo. All three began their work as protégées of the great Anglo-African archeologist Louis Leakey, and each spent years in the field, allowing the apes to become their familiars--and ultimately waging battles to save them from extinction in the wild.
Their combined accomplishments have been mind-blowing, as Goodall, Fossey, and Galdikas forever changed how we think of our closest evolutionary relatives, of ourselves, and of how to conduct good science. From the personal to the primate, Sy Montgomery--acclaimed author of The Soul of an Octopus and The Good Good Pig--explores the science, wisdom, and living experience of three of the greatest scientists of the twentieth century.