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Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal | [Mary Roach]

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal

Best-selling author Mary Roach returns with a new adventure to the invisible realm we carry around inside. Roach 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?
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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, April 2013 - Mary Roach is willing to “go there” in the name of Science. She has tackled sexual physiology in Bonk, the life of cadavers in Stiff, and now takes on the (not-so-hot) topic of the digestive system in Gulp. This journey begins at the top and ends at the bottom of the legendary alimentary canal, but Roach does not take us there in a straight line. There are side excursions to visit experts in the field of morning breathe and pet-food engineers. We explore the power of salvia and the origin of mythical fire-breathing serpents. By asking seemingly ridiculous questions like, “Does noxious flatus do more than clear a room?” Roach manages to dismiss those common misconceptions we all seem to have but never question out loud. In Gulp she serves-up Science just the way I like it: Well-researched, relevant, offbeat, and hilarious. —Tricia, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

Best-selling author Mary Roach returns with a new adventure to the invisible realm we carry around inside. Roach 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 as our guide, 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. Like all of Roach’s books, Gulp is as much about human beings as it is about human bodies.

©2013 Mary Roach (P)2013 Tantor

What Members Say

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  •  
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 04-19-13
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 04-19-13 Member Since 2010
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    "entertaining, with an B+ for gross-out factor"

    You can't help but love listening to a super performance about a certain biological function and some related weird behavior connected to same. At about four points in the book, I just had to take out the ear buds and not listen to the rest of the "tidbit." Glad I listened to it all, and happy to move on to a more boring next selection.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heather K United States 06-24-14
    Heather K United States 06-24-14 Member Since 2014

    Goodreads reviewer and blogger... also dentist and wife/mom when I get the time!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Awesome, quirky read!"

    The science geek in me practically peed her pants she was so excited to read this book. (I guess my inner nerd has a mild case of urinary incontinence but that is neither here nor there...) I mean an entire book about the alimentary canal, starting with my home turf, the mouth? Count me in!

    Will you enjoy this book? Well, that depends on how you answer the following questions. Have you ever wondered:

    If you can die from trying to defecate too forcefully?
    Why do animals eat their own poop?
    Could the Jonah biblical story have scientific plausibility?
    Why doesn't your stomach eat itself until there is nothing left?
    What makes farts smell so disgusting?
    What is the purpose of saliva and why do babies make so much?
    How to prisoners smuggle so much junk up their butts?

    I loved every second of finding out the answer to these questions and about 1,000 more that I didn't even know I had. I enjoyed the refresher course on human anatomy and physiology and LOVED Mary Roach's humorous approach to science. You do not have to have a science background to adore this book. It is perfectly suitable for all audiences, particularly ones that don't mind a little potty humor.

    The narrator in the audiobook was spot on: Funny, tongue-in-cheek, and pleasant to listen too. This isn't a character-driven novel or anything like that, so the narrator just had to read the book and read it well, and that she did! I listened to this book in about a weeks time and felt a little more informed each day.

    Warning: Possible side effects of reading this book include forcing your loved ones (aka the husband, in my case) to listen to about a bajillion facts about pooping, burps, farts, and gas. In case you are wondering, he did not appreciate learning that information, the neanderthal.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristine 04-08-13
    Kristine 04-08-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Awesome content!"
    What did you like best about Gulp? What did you like least?

    I thoroughly enjoyed the content as written. The delivery lacked.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    The story, and the investigative aspect. Who looks for this stuff? Awesome!


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Emily Woo Zeller?

    The author. She has an obvious comedic tone that emily doesn't deliver effectively.


    Was Gulp worth the listening time?

    Yes...


    Any additional comments?

    The greatest detraction was the narrator trying to mimic the voices of the various scientists. It sounded mocking even when it wasn't meant to. This is a really cool trip through digestion! I just wish I had time to actually read the book in my own way vs. this. Still love Audible!

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jamie Lake City, FL, United States 05-17-13
    Jamie Lake City, FL, United States 05-17-13 Member Since 2009

    Fantasy & Sci-Fi lover who mostly refuses to read books without their audiobook counterparts. How else can a girl get any housework done?

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Disappointed"
    What disappointed you about Gulp?

    It was very monotonous. After reading all the great reviews and being familiar with Mary Roach's book, STIFF, I guess I had high expectations. Unfortunately, this fell flatter than flat. It was just....boring.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Not sure....something more interesting, I'm sure.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Emily Woo Zeller?

    Tavia Gilbert. The best narrator I've listened to, so far.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointment. Boredom.


    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Claire 04-14-13
    Claire 04-14-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Interesting and funny"

    This book was very interesting and had some funny bits. I certainly learned some things about the body and digestion. It was entertaining and informative. I found some of the anecdotes just a touch on the insensitive/judgmental side...a little compassion for the unfortunate people who made the record books with their unusual stories would have felt better to me, as a listener. If we must be voyeurs we can be compassionate voyeurs, no? Still an excellent listen; it kept my attention, gave me some laughs, and made me a little bit more informed. The narration was good (read: not annoying).

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Sader Toledo, OH USA 05-15-13
    Jennifer Sader Toledo, OH USA 05-15-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Well-performed, but I wasn't wowed by the content"

    I'd hoped to learn some new things about how a healthy body works, but this was mostly a collection of oddities. There were some interesting moments, like learning that organ meats have more vitamins than vegetables. I think it was just a bad fit for me.

    8 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Claudia H Philadelphia, PA 07-30-15
    Claudia H Philadelphia, PA 07-30-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Not hard to swallow"

    I thought the book was able to relay a lot of information in a very funny way. It was informative and enjoyable. There were a few times when I just got bored, but after taking a break, I would come back to it and enjoy it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Scarborough, ON, Canada 12-02-14
    Scott Scarborough, ON, Canada 12-02-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Easily digestible fare"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    First off, I must admit to being a fan of Mary Roach, whose books delve into the eccentricities, trivialities, and the “have you ever wondered how” aspects of our human bodies. In this vein, Gulp dares the reader to boldly explore the splendor of what our bodies do to food from bite to bowel. Roach’s style isn’t to take any of this too seriously, or to drown the reader in arcane science; rather, she interviews experts in various fields or takes on the role of observer or occasional lab rat. All of this is infused with liberal amounts of tongue and cheek humor which is narrated in such a breezy, personal tone that I thought Roach herself was doing the narration. In the end, the reader won’t come away with anything close to encyclopedic understanding of human digestion but if that’s what you are looking for then Gulp is the wrong book for you anyway. Instead if you are looking to have a little info to go with your entertainment, and you don’t mind occasionally being a little grossed out (see the bit on tasters), Gulp may just leave you feeling a little awed by how your body works its unseen magic turning what you have eaten into what you are.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Isak California 08-29-14
    Isak California 08-29-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Wish the author narrated"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This is your typical Mary Roach book. The exploration of a somewhat unknown topic and the oddball scientific history and strange characters behind the research of the topic. All told with a great sense of humor. Very fascinating and a good read as all her books are.


    Any additional comments?

    My only comment is that the narrator isn't as engaging or enthusiastic about the subject as the author is (having listened to a few Mary Roach interviews over the years). Not to say that the narration was bad...it just could have been better. I would have given it all five stars across the board if it was read by the author instead.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nick 08-04-14
    Nick 08-04-14
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    "I now have a greater respect for my farts :-)"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Mary Roach does a great job at balancing humor and science writing while taking us down a journey through the alimentary canal. Like a talented tour guide, she presents facts in a digestible format relevant to both a ten-year old making scatalogical references or an adult interested in some entertaining bite-sized science fact. I can't wait to listen to or read Bonk and Packing for Mars. They are next on my reading list, just as soon as I click submit.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I now have a deeper respect for Elvis Presley and his 'taking care of business.'


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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