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
Stiff was one of my absolute favorite books and I was unblieveably disappointed when Roach's second book, Bonk... sucked so bad! I love Roach's ability to feed me interesting new data and make me laugh at the same time. With Bonk, I didn't really feel like I learned much. So happy that Roach got this one right!
Moving further from work extended my daily commute... thank God for Audible.
Unlike the finite length of the alimentary canal, my love for this book knows no end. Gulp was recommended to me by a friend and, now that I’ve finished the book, I will be similarly evangelistic… in fact I’ve already recommended Gulp more than any other book in the last few years.
The writing is smart and funny. The content is weird and interesting. That should be enough for any would-be Audible customers. But there are a few other things I would like to mention to entice listeners.
Firstly, the content isn’t *just* about the alimentary canal. It’s really so much broader than that, as you’ll soon realize in the first few chapters where we learn about (amongst other things) food preconceptions, overpriced olive oil, vegetarian catfood and the psychology of eating. The narrative takes a similarly winding path down the gastrointestinal tract with enchanting diversions along the way.
Secondly, there are very few truly icky moments… I was only revolted once (for those interested, it was during the description of one culture’s inclination to suck the nasal discharge of their young with their mouth and spit it out). The writing is never exploitive, and I got the impression that Roach wants to inform and educate – not disgust.
Thirdly, the transition from printed page to audiobook is flawless. Emily Woo Zeller is a first class narrator, and an absolute delight. She brings the words to life and I could hear the sparkle in her voice as she was reading some of Roach’s wittier lines.
At times hilarious, at times baffling, and yes – at times a bit gross. But never boring. You will not regret this purchase.
I recommend everything every written by Mary Roach. Science+Hilarity=WIN. From teenager to senior citizens, I've never met a person who didn't love a Mary Roach book
Delivers what it promises, interesting stories, historical tidbits, really gross things that cause you to make weird faces while you are listening and exclaim things like "Oh my G-d" or "Ewwwww" The stories about how people discovered so much about the AC, and the weird things people do to it still were fun but I guess I wanted a little more science along with the ancecdots a la "A Natural History of the Senses"
Educational, clever, and a little gross.
Mary Roach is not afraid to ask questions.
I'm not using three words. She was pretty good, but could be off-putting at times. 95% of the time, I liked her. The rest of the time she used a nasally voice when reading dialog that seemed more mocking than reenacting. It wasn't done purposefully, I'm sure. Just a limit to her skill. Still, overall she did a wonderful job.
Mary Roach is clever, smart, and brave. I will read anything she writes. Not only am I entertained (and occasionally grossed out), but educated.
want to know what happens to your food from lips to the very end? and why? and how? this is a great book--would make a fantastic reading group choice. what we don't know about our bodies CAN and DOES hurt us!
the top 30%
There are too many to single out one but perhaps Elvis Presley's megacolon.
This book makes one reconsider our own bodily functions. It is informative and also humorous.
I've now listened to everything available from Mary Roach.
"Stiff" was her best, and truly will be hard to beat. I consistently found myself thinking, "I can't believe I'm reading this given the subject matter, but it is perhaps the most interesting book I've encountered in a very long time."
"Bonk" and "Packing for Mars" were interesting, but didn't rise to the same level as "Stiff." Stiff makes you uncomfortable in a Mary Roach kinda way. Bonk and Packing for Mars included some stuff that would make an 8th grader blush, but Ms. Roach didn't roll it out in a way that induced the same "squirm factor" as Stiff.
"Spook" ripped apart the paranormal, which was rather fun; however, if the standard for Mary Roach is to deliver insight into that which really exists, the subject matter ("matter" being used liberally here) was, well, ephemeral.
So along comes "Gulp." Nicely researched. Cleverly written. Some splendid segments.
But, therein lies the problem. Gulp felt as if it was written quickly. The several splendid segments make it clear that this could have been as good as, if not better than, "Stiff."
Instead, the text felt a little formulaic, with tons of research and personal experience simply linked together with witty/clever transitional language. Thoughtful editing could have made this book extraordinary.
That said, this may well be Ms. Roach's second best book. The research is really, really good - moving into (and sometimes out of) some deep dark corners, making this a really fun read.
I have been hooked on her writings since Stiff. This is a journey that bounces around all different areas, but ties in nicely. It was no STIFF, but VERY interesting and funny in parts. Worth a listen.
I loved all of Mary Roache's books, fascinating research and story line, although some of the research bits are a bit long, but interviews with the scientists are always interesting.
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