- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (April 1, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393348741
- ISBN-13: 978-0393348743
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,156 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal 1st Edition
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“There is much to enjoy about Mary Roach―her infectious aw for quirky science and its nerdy adherents, her one-liners... She is beloved, and justifiably so.”
- Jon Ronson, New York Times Book Review
“As engrossing as it is gross.”
- Entertainment Weekly
“Far and away her funniest and most sparkling book, bringing Ms. Roach’s love of weird science to material that could not have more everyday relevance. . . . Never has Ms. Roach’s affinity for the comedic and bizarre been put to better use. . . . “Gulp” is structured as a vastly entertaining pilgrimage down the digestive tract, with Ms. Roach as the wittiest, most valuable tour guide imaginable.”
- Janet Maslin, New York Times
“A delicious read and, dare I say it, a total gas.”
- Kate Tuttle, Boston Globe
“With the same eager curiosity that she previously brought to the subjects of cadavers, space, and sex, the author explores the digestive system, from mouth to colon.”
- New Yorker
“[A] merry foray into the digestive sciences….Inexorably draws the reader along with peristaltic waves of history and vividly described science.”
- Brian Switek, Wall Street Journal
“You’ll come away from this well-researched book with enough weird digestive trivia to make you the most interesting guest at a certain kind of cocktail party…Go ahead and put this one in your carry-on. You won’t regret it.”
- Amy Stewart, Washington Post
“A witty, woving romp of a book… Roach…is a thoroughly unflappable, utterly intrepid investigator of the icky.”
- Chloe Schama, Smithsonian
“Gulp is about revelling in the extraordinary complexities and magnificence of human digestion.”
- The Economist
“Relentlessly fun to read.”
- Bee Wilson, The New Republic
About the Author
Mary Roach is the author of Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, and Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. Her writing has appeared in Outside, Wired, National Geographic, and the New York Times Magazine, among others. She lives in Oakland, California.
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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. We learn about the importance of saliva, all about acid reflux, and the various problems associated with indigestion among many, many other topics. We even learn why Elvis died, and yes it was on the toilet. We even hear a theory why people believed in dragons; and yes it has to do reptiles with gas and combustion. We find out why we don't digest our own stomachs (well, while we're alive) and whether or not animals other than parasites can survive being swallowed and even forcibly make their way out.
It's difficult to give a fair summary to this book because it covers so much. This may be favorite book of hers since Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, and like that book this book will literally have you laughing out loud. For example, in trying to avoid the embarrassment of releasing intestinal gas, she writes:
"Or perhaps to take the advice of a gastroenterologist I know: get a dog. (To blame.)"
As a person who has GERD (acid reflux) and has spent time in the hospital for an episode of intestinal blockage (worst pain, ever), I was especially interested in this topic. But I think it's really something that would interest everyone. You will learn a lot and you will laugh a lot and you will end up wanting to make friends with this author because she is so amusing and so personable.
Highly recommended. You just have to read the first few pages to see if this is something you would enjoy. I read this in one sitting; it was not only entertaining but I'm smarter for having read it.
This is a book that doesn’t really work as a post-prandial tome. Even though I can watch the DiscoveryLife channel while eating, Gulp brought me to the edge.
It’s not that the book is badly written, but the author discusses subjects that aren’t usually the subject of medical tomes (spit) to a scientific discussion of feces. As I said, this was not the best choice of book to read after lunch.
Despite having said that, this was a fantastic book, taking the reader on a trip through the alimentary canal from mouth to food’s final disposition.
Highly recommended for those who are interested to what happens to that steak once you swallow it. I would suggest that you not read this before or after you eat. You’ll thank me later.
4.8 out of 5
I never knew people taste tested pet food, why would they anyway? She also discusses the taboos behind eating certain foods. There is an entire chapter on saliva and one on William Beaumont and Alexis St. Martin and his experiments. The author introduces you to all kinds of strange experiments as different scientists discuss and examine the digestive tract. There is a chapter on constipation and how it can kill you.
I need to be brave a grab a copy of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.
In my case, this book was used the basic textbook for an eight-week discussion group studying microbes and the human gut. We were a dozen or so very bright seniors, all retired from a variety of successful professional careers. The “class” was affiliated with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) where we organize group discussions and presentations around a strong peer-learning concept. Before each class session, we read one or two chapters from this book and then had discussion based on questions prepared by one or two of our members about those chapters. In addition, we listened to, and discussed, one or two presentations prepared by members. All the presentations dealt with topics related to our human microbiome, especially those microbes in the alimentary canal. Our OLLI has found that this is a good format for casual academic group learning, especially in an environment where almost everyone already has an advanced degree. Basically, we rely on learning through individual reading and research, and enhance that learning by sharing it with our peers.
Our class had a lot of problems using this book as the central discussion text to support the class. There was just not enough substance within each chapter for adequate discussion questions. Sure the book was fun to read, but it didn’t leave the group with much to discuss.
If you’re interested in this topic and enjoy humorous light books covering scientific topics, then this may be exactly what you’re looking for; but, if you want more in- depth knowledge on this topic, I suggest you look elsewhere.