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
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.
couldn't get through it all
Hard to do better given the overwhelming extraneous details.
I hope not.
I loved Mary Roach's book Stiff. So I was quick to grab this book. But the tedium of it all -- I don't care what kind of cashmere grey sweater the research scientist was wearing; I don't care if there was sun shining through the windows when you met. The overwhelming extraneous details led me to think the author needed to write a certain number of pages...boring details with an occasional gem of information. Too much for me to plow through. I gave it up before we even got to the small intestine. BIg disappointment.
This is one of my favorites. Mary Roach is great!
What I love about Mary Roach's books is that they tickle the science part of my brian with weird yet interesting topics. In this case the topic is something we all have and use everyday, our digestive tracks. I can see why some may not be able to stomach (pun very much intended) the topic, but she handles it with grace and comedy. The book is truly more interesting then disgusting.
If you've read any other Mary Roach and liked it you should enjoy this one. If you haven't read any of her other stuff and you like funny, historical looks at science and discovery check out any of her books.
I tried and tried to like this book after reading so many glowing reviews here and in print. I tried starting it over twice in a different frame of mind. But I just never enjoyed it and couldn't finish it.
Mary Roach has an inquiring mind, and while many of her topics are way off the beaten path, she always uses an approach of scientific inquiry with a quirkiness that's charming and funny and absolutely fascinating. Zeller's reading is right on the mark. As with "Stiff," the fascination factor far outweighs the yuk factor. What a great listen! And what a lot I learned...
The more you love books... the more books you love!
This book takes you on an end-to-end tour of the alimentary canal, and it's a very satisfying read. I'm a big fan of Mary Roach's work, and her latest book does not disappoint. I love facts about science, and Mary Roach's inquiries go where standard science writers fear to tread!
The narrator also does a fabulous job. Her wry, bubbly style matches the tone of the book perfectly.
This book was sooo nasty. Warning: Do not read while eating! I would listen to this on the way to work, while eating of course, and I would just feel so repulsed afterwards. The author leaves nothing out - she discusses spit, the colon, defecating...it's disgusting. However, it will leave you with a nice appreciation of your body. In all seriousness, a lot of the anecdotes were interesting - albeit gross - but the storyline dragged some. It is hard to listen to someone talk about spit for 30 minutes - unless you're into that kind of thing.
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