Book Review: Gulp: Adventures On The Alimentary Canal

Gulp CoverBook: Gulp: Adventures Of The Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach, narrated by Emily Woo Zeller

Published April 2013 by Tanor Audio|Length: 8 hours, 21 minutes

Where I Got It: from audible.com

Series: None

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction- Science

You can find Gulp on goodreads & Mary Roach on twitter and her website

Goodreads Summary: 

The irresistible, ever-curious, and bestselling Mary Roach returns with a new adventure to the invisible realm we carry around inside. 

“America’s funniest science writer” (Washington Post) takes us down the hatch on an unforgettable tour. The alimentary canal is classic Mary Roach terrain: the questions explored in Gulp are as taboo, in their way, as the cadavers in Stiff and every bit as surreal as the universe of zero gravity explored in Packing for Mars. Why is crunchy food so appealing? Why is it so hard to find words for flavors and smells? Why doesn’t the stomach digest itself? How much can you eat before your stomach bursts? Can constipation kill you? Did it kill Elvis? In Gulp we meet scientists who tackle the questions no one else thinks of—or has the courage to ask. We go on location to a pet-food taste-test lab, a fecal transplant, and into a live stomach to observe the fate of a meal. With Roach at our side, we travel the world, meeting murderers and mad scientists, Eskimos and exorcists (who have occasionally administered holy water rectally), rabbis and terrorists—who, it turns out, for practical reasons do not conceal bombs in their digestive tracts.

What I Thought:

After listening to Stiff, I knew I wanted to read her other books, so I decided that I would give Gulp a try.  It’s definitely interesting, and I love how Roach is so enthusiastic about what she’s learning.  It really comes across well, and her enthusiasm makes me excited to listen to what she’s learned.

I really like how each chapter is about a different topic, and each chapter flows into the next chapter really well.  There are so many things I wouldn’t normally think about, and she does it in a way that manages to not gross me out.  (Well, most of the time).

Like, there’s a lab devoted to researching saliva.  I had no idea such a lab existed, but it makes sense that there is such a place.  And a lot of eating is smell (not tasting), which goes right to emotions and feelings, but not words, which is why smell is so hard to describe.  And our jaw?  It’s really strong!  Plus, we can detect a grain of sand that’s super-duper small.

I totally wish I remembered how small it was, but it’s pretty dang small.

Being able to chew and swallow is really important.  Chewing is really satisfying, and there are people who would rather be mute than tube-fed.  And there’s an entire chapter on pet food and all of the research that goes into it.

She makes a topic that does have the gross factor interesting and entertaining, and that came across really well in the audio book.  I actually liked Zeller as a narrator, and I really felt like it was Roach talking to me.  It came across much more for me in Gulp than it did in Stiff, and it kind of makes me wish Zeller had narrated Stiff.

Let’s Rate It:

I really liked Gulp!  As much as one can like a book like Gulp.  I love how Roach asks questions I wouldn’t even think to ask, and her interest and curiosity and enthusiasm makes me interested in something I don’t tend to think about!  Gulp gets 4 stars.

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