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
I am a grower. A tangle of vines weaving round myrtle branch fences. Rusty metal, soft stone, and worn wood. Unkempt curls and knees covered in clay. I listen.
Fascinating! Entertaining! Surprising!
I love Mary Roach's work. I have read all her books, but I have to say I was a little hesitant to read this one. I didn't know what to expect. Could the digestive system really be that interesting? Would I just be grossed out the whole time? I decided to jump in anyway. I was not disappointed. I think Mary Roach's genuine fascination with the world creates a contagious atmosphere of awe. Many time through out the book I found myself thinking "Wow! that is really interesting." Her style of writing also has a certain light hearted joy to it. Making you almost feel like you are there with her while she is sticking her whole arm into a cow. A spectator to a good friends adventures. I was also not grossed out at all. Well maybe a little bit during the saliva part, but in general I was not. I even ate lunch a few times while listening.
Yes and I love the way she narrates!
I found the most interesting part to be getting a larger perspective on what people believe about the body. Every age it seems has it's thing. Today it might be Gluten intolerance, but 100 years ago it might have been bosom snakes. Self diagnosis run amok no matter what period you live in. Also a perspective on what science and medicine had to say. It is really amazing to see things from a larger scale. It really puts todays beliefs in perspective.
I highly recommend reading this book if you like Mary Roach! You will really really enjoy it!
Besides incessant listening to audiobooks, I also read on my Kindle at night, birdwatch, garden (roses, daylilies), and do genealogy.
All in all, this was an easy read and certainly enlightening. Everything you ever may have wondered and all that you never really wondered about your gut, from top to bottom.
Most of it was amusing stuff you'd never want to discuss with anyone, but some of it was especially interesting. I am speaking of the preferred way of smuggling items into jail in California penal facilities--who ever thought? I am almost sorry I now have to think of this!
And perhaps most interesting of all is the Elvis story. You need to wait for the last part of the book for this zinger, but it is surely worth waiting for. You will realize Elvis didn't die from drugs and obesity, it was something much more sad and chilling. Changes my whole feeling for my former childhood idol. It redeems him in my eyes. Poor Elvis.
Tired teacher. That is, REtired teacher.
I LOVED this book. As she did in "Stiff," Mary Roach tackles a less than savory subject with intelligent and humor. I learned a lot of great info about the digestive track, and I laughed out loud at many of Roach's vignettes and explanations. Who knew that ingesting someone else's fecal material could restore your probiotic balance and help you heal, for example? If you have any interest in how the body really works, you will love this book. However, if you are a bit squeamish,you may want to pass. This is not nearly as, well, upsetting as "Stiff," but the subject matter is often inappropriate for "polite company." I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Emily Woo Zeller's narration was spot on. Such a fun listen!
A fascinating road trip from nose to anus. Mary Roach's unique style of fearless, curious inquiry into unknown aspects of everyday life and extreme empathy for persons in esoteric professions holds the listener's interest.
The narrator is very pleasant but a bit slow in pace. By adjusting the playback speed, this is a non-issue. Not as good as the performances on Roach's earlier books Stiff and Bonk.
My only complaint isn't with the work or its audio performance, it's with the audio production. The volume fluctuates greatly, even from word to word, as though the narrator didn't maintain uniform distance from the microphone or poor equipment was used. This could have been easily fixed by running compression, but was not.
I love espionage, legal, and detective thrillers but listen to most genres. Very frequent reviews. No plot spoilers! Please excuse my typos!
Science journalist Mary Roach is famous for having written six non-fiction books. This book, Gulp, along with Stiff is clearly the best and most informative. Spook, which claims to examine the afterlife, does no such thing and is clearly the worst. My Planet is simply a bunch of Roach's old news paper columns and like Spook is a complete waste of time. The other two, Bonk and Packing for Mars, are worthwhile but not a good as Gulp and Stiff.
Gulp, subtitled Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, covers the topic well.
Overall, it seems to me that Mary Roach's books are over hyped, but Gulp and Stiff are excellent.
I listened to most of this on a road trip, with very mindful breaks where I turned off the book. I'm sure if a video camera had been posed on my face while I listened it would have been really funny. I was making all kinds of disgust faces during a lot of it. That being said, it was fascinating; I have bought all of Mary Roach's audiobooks and enjoy them. Just be warned!
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.
If Mary Roach taught science, all the kids would earn A's. No, she's not a scientist, and this isn't research to reference on a term paper...but her humorous approach, irreverent wit, and ability to hunt down the most bizarre facts, combine to make any subject she tackles so entertaining and interesting you'll devour every word. One minute she is seriously discussing biology with academicians, the next she is telling the reader to blame those particularly malodorous *floaters* (flatulence) on the dog. Gulp is like her other one-syllable titled books (Stiff, Bonk, Spook), nothing is sacred, and nothing is off limits...including laughing while you learn. Like Isaac Asimov's Fantastic Voyage -- Gulp is a little like boarding a tour bus and being swallowed instead of injected into the human body; Roach is the tour guide/comedian that narrates the trip with an entertaining story, or bizarre fact at every stopping point on the way out. And there's only one way out of the alimentary canal...
Some of the subject matter was a tad gross--even more so than Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (which I thought was a little better), butt that is part of the tour. You won't want to listen around meal time, and her in-depth (npi) look at the *prison wallet* might have you skipping ahead. But, her trip to the dog food tasting facility, or her conversations with the bean tasters were hilarious. I would never had made it through the interviews, discussing controlled experimentation of flatulence, with a straight face. For all of us that were admonished at sometime for our *irreverent sense of humor* (Ms. B. from Biology and Principal L.)...this one's for you.
Yes. Many of my friends, for better or worse, are fascinated by poo. This book is more or less a documentary on their favorite subject.
Its all really good. I loved the chapter on what different species like to eat and why.
Think she did other Mary Roach books. They are far from boring.
"A Book For Those Who Enjoy Taking A Dump"
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.
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