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Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal First Edition Edition
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This book - Gulp - is all about the alimentary canal; that part of the body that begins at the point where food is consumed and ends where solid waste is expelled. Starting with taste and the mouth, she follows our digestive system all the way down. As with her other books, this one is replete with interesting and often bizarre facts and tales of eccentrics and misguided scientists and experiments gone awry. The author covers all sorts of "taboo" and sensitive subjects and both educates us and makes us laugh.
At the start, we learn about the importance of our nose (our ability to smell) and what that has to do with taste. She also compares our tastebuds with those of cats and dogs - showing how we often assume that they will like what we will. Well, it turns out that's really wrong. We learn how different cultures throughout history have found different things palatable and that the foods consumed by the most privileged may not be the healthiest. She also goes on later on to compare the anatomy of man to those of various other animals and points out how we are the same and how we differ. We learn about the problems and benefits associated with our digestive system and the various theories and treatments over time for various intestinal ailments.
In typical Mary Roach style, she candidly discusses such "taboo" topics as intestinal gas and our bowel habits. We read about the dangers of prisoners secreting contraband in their stomachs or their anal cavities and go from there to learning about the digestive systems of competitive eaters.Read more ›
I have read her other books, and found them to be instructive, witty, and sometimes funny. This book is another enjoyable find. I mean who can resist a writer who notes that the proper name of the uvula is "palatine uvula" the name she intends to use if she should branch out to romance novels? I cannot deny that there are some nauseating facts included in this book, but one must surely expect that given the subject matter. She delivers cogent and well organized material in well formed and flowing prose. For this feat I give five stars.
"The human digestive track is like the Amtrak line from Seattle to Los Angeles; transit time is about thirty hours , and the scenery on the last lag is pretty monotonous". There you have it, from the first bite of food that is first smelled, chewed, oral digestive acids acted upon, moved down the esophagus to the stomach and into the bowels, large and small intestine and then into the anus, where the food that went in is expelled. The circuitous route taken is fascinating.
Chewing leads to a discussion of saliva, and we learn "Bodily fluids, gas and excrement may disgust us once they leave the body, but "we are large, mobile vessels of the very substances we find most repulsive." We learn a lot about 'gas', it's make-up, smell, testing, who makes the most gas, farting, and on and on. Megacolon, the large bowel dilatation that causes much straining to release it's contents and can cause cardiac arrhythmia and death, as it probably did for Elvis Presley. Mary Roach spent a great deal of time in her research for this book, traveling the world.Read more ›
After I heard Mary Roach discussing GULP during a Radiolab podcast, I really wanted to read it. She was talking about the symbiotic relationship we have with bacteria that inhabit our intestines and colon, and the podcast was fascinating and disgusting and informative. A really wonderful mix. I read STIFF a while back and enjoyed it, so I started GULP with high hopes.
GULP supposed to be about nourishment, about eating and excreting, about how important and undevalued our 'alimentary canal' is. It starts with the mouth and ends with the butt, and every chapter is a little more disgusting than the last. There's a whole chapter about fecal transplants, and if you're like me, that's a hook that will make you reach for the buy button.
I understand that this is pop science, pop non-fiction, that the purpose of a book like GULP is to entertain as well as inform. But GULP is so light it's in danger of floating away in a stiff breeze. Roach talks about sitting at a bar with this specialist, or visiting the home of that specialist, but instead of delving into the subjects those specialists understand so well, she pads the book with descriptions of the funny accent one speaks with, the video game the other's son plays. She cracks jokes about doctors with funny names (repeatedly, and it started to make me really mad -- we don't choose our names) and even describes looking at a page of Google search results. I did not buy GULP for the fascinating tale of how Mary Roach travels all around the world learning things for the book she's going to write, but I really did not buy it for the fascinating tale of how she sits at home and Googles things.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Another well written book by Mary Roach. Her choice of subjects is always something that you don't think about but, Mary makes it fascinating and humourious.Published 1 day ago by Marsha Mccarthy
Informative and intriguing! I enjoyed this book almost as much as I did Stiff! Mary Roach makes what is a pretty gross subject very interesting and educational! Read morePublished 4 days ago by Linda Christensen
Actually my husband read it...not me. He says its one of the best books he's ever read. I heard him laughing a lot while he was reading it.Published 6 days ago by Brian Hart
I am reading this book for the second time. You will learn stuff in here that is really interesting. Some passages have an ick factor but others are just plain interesting. Read morePublished 19 days ago by clarissa
Another good and informative book by Mary Roach and if your curiosity is up, it will tell you exactly what you want to know.
Most of Mary's books have been hits as far as I'm concerned, but this one was a miss. I just could not get into the rhythm of the chapters and eventually didn't finish the book. Read morePublished 1 month ago by J. Allison
A well researched and witty presentation of more facts about our "gut" than I ever wanted to know. A by-product for me was an interesting look at the way the scientific research... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Oregon Gal