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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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4.0 (1607 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Julia 02-24-15
    Julia 02-24-15 Member Since 2014
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    "I love Mary Roach"

    Mary Roach has a sense of humor when she broaches a topic. It makes reading about your digestive tract fun.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    As my Wimsey takes me 02-18-15 Member Since 2008

    Words...words. Words.

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    "Lots of interesting information"

    I almost gave up on this one (glad I didn't) because of the narrator's voice. She has an almost child-like sound throughout, which is inappropriate for this book. When she used different 'voices' to distinguish people in conversation, it pulled me right out of the narrative. Very distracting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura 02-12-15
    Laura 02-12-15 Member Since 2015
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    3
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    "Fascinating"
    Any additional comments?

    This book was little disgusting, quite graphic at times, thought provoking and utterly fascinating. I enjoyed it immensely. It will give you insight into some concepts you may have never considered before. Highly recommended. I gave the narration four stars, only because the speaker had a habit of including inflections that made it sound like she was laughing at her own joke. It sounds trivial, but it was very distracting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janice LAGRANGE, KY, United States 02-07-15
    Janice LAGRANGE, KY, United States 02-07-15 Member Since 2005

    I am a retired school counselor (middle and elementary) and an avid reader. I am a lover of great mysteries, quirky protagonists, and medical/scientific non-fiction. I travel a lot and love the freedon audiobooks give me to drive, work, and relax while enjoying a good book. On my ipod I have eclectic musical selections as well as audiobooks. I will strive to never steer you wrong in a review.

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    "Another hilarious yet educational book"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend this to my frineds who are of a certain scientific bent. Some people would just be grossed out but if you are interested in why and how we turn food into all of the nutrients and necessary by-products of digestion here you go. You will also find very interesting information about people who have made careers of studying about things the rest of us would rather not talk about.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    As with all of Ms Roach's books this one is very well researched, incredibly interesting and funny- both intentionally and unintentionally. I love the fact that she interviews people in fields of science that I didn't even know existed. I also have learned about people whose jobs would make anyone else's bad day look pretty good such as people who study and evaluate human flatus.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I love the scenes where the author visits scientists in their labs or their research facilities and gets to actually participate in the science. Good ol" Ms. Roach is nothing if not a trooper.


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

    This is a very interesting question since the book is about the alimentary system. Much of the book is about movements bowel and otherwise.


    Any additional comments?

    Can't wait for her next books. Through her I have learned about corpses, human sexuality, the alimentary system and more and laughed a lot while doing it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Uresh Vahalia 01-23-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Last few chapters are great"

    I am glad I continued to the end. Got a bit boring in the middle. The narration could be better.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ingrid New York, NY, United States 01-03-15
    Ingrid New York, NY, United States 01-03-15 Member Since 2014

    Eclectic physical philosopher, carbon free commuter, fitness consultant, personal trainer, non-medical nutritional counselor, yoga teacher.

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    "Fascinating but not for the squeamish"

    I enjoyed this book and appreciated the descriptions of things that I frankly never bothered to think about much. She goes into deep detail. having read this you will know more than you might even want to know about the elementary canal and so many aspects about it that felt like what I like to call 'yoga for the imagination', who knew? But if you're into nutrition and that sort of thing it can really be very interesting. Definitely worth reading or listening to!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dann Los Angeles, CA, United States 12-21-14
    Dann Los Angeles, CA, United States 12-21-14 Member Since 2009

    My preference for a good story is something totally unusual and not run of the mill stuff. Give me something I haven't heard before.

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    "Not so tasty"

    Mary Roach is a literary treasure of good and bad taste. So far, of her books that I've read, they are masterpieces of wild, untamed info on a variety of subjects. I give this one a 3 star rating ONLY because I damn near vomited many times hearing some of the descriptions. It's not for the faint, believe me and don't eat while reading. Keep your stomach empty till the end ... or carry large, plastic bags (an industrial box load) with zip ties.

    0 of 0 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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    JEK 12-02-14
    JEK 12-02-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Very entertaining."

    For someone who loves science and humor, this book was great. I've read Mary Roach's Stiff and so decided to try this one even though I'm not that into food. She makes everything interesting and her author's notes are really delightful. Emily Woo Zeller does a good job of narrating the text. All of a sudden I only had two hours left and I ended up trying to listen less often so I could enjoy it for longer.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharon Madaus 11-09-14 Member Since 2013
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    "What a pile of interesting facts!"
    Where does Gulp rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    In the upper fourth or fifth.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    The fact that the author finds the most interesting aspects of the subject, ones that are totally unanticipated.


    Any additional comments?

    The book is lively, factual and entertaining. The performer seemed to capture the spirit of the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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