Friday, June 14, 2013

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal; Mary Roach



Title: Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
Author: Mary Roach
Publication Year:  2013
Publisher: Tantor Audio / W.W. Norton
Edition: audio
and print
Reader: Emily Woo Zeller (very good)
Source: library

Date Completed: June - 2013
Rating: 4/5
 

Definition of ALIMENTARY CANAL (according to Merriam Webster) : the tubular passage that extends from mouth to anus, functions in digestion and absorption of food and elimination of residual waste, and includes the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine.

Who would think reading about digestion would make for an entertaining and informative read?  As a fan of this author's earlier non-fiction work: Stiff:The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, I thought this one might be fun as well. Once again, the author Mary Roach, manages to make this one both informative and entertaining. 

In Gulp, the author actually begins with the nose, pointing out that without sniffing, we miss as much as 90 percent of the smells going on around us, and how dogs who hang their heads out of the car windows, and motorcyclists experience something that the rest of us miss. The nose and sniffing also have much to do with tasting. There were some interesting studies with olive oil (some rancid) and cheap wine vs expensive wine.  Did you know that Elvis had a colon that was 2-3 times larger than average? Did that contribute to his early death? How much contraband can be transported in "prison wallet" (rectum)?   There is even a section on pet food studies that was very good, as well as an investigation on competitive eating, and whether a person can, in fact, eat themselves to death.

The author has written a book which is both entertaining and informative. It was interesting to learn about the many ways that our internal plumbing can fail us, yet  even though the subject is serious you'll often smile or even laugh as you read about it. Scientific studies and trials can be dry and boring, but this book is written in a manner that is anything but boring. If you are in the mood for a bit of non fiction and would like to try something different, this one may be the book for you.

23 comments:

  1. This sounds really interesting to me as well. Excellent review, Diane!

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    1. I've had this one on the wishlist for a while. I loved Stiff and Spook (Six Feet Over in UK) but will pass on Bonk! She makes science so accessible but I think one might find her humour a bit wearing.

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    2. It was both fun and interesting, even though parts were a little gross:)

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  2. I've got Stiff to read on my TBR, but this sounds equally fascinating. I do like an accessible non-fiction book.

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    1. Yes Vicki, you do not have to be a science wiz to understand what Roach writes about.

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  3. I had my doubts about this one but you've sure made it sound fascinating!

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    1. Kathy the audio may be a good way to try this one.

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  4. You share so many fascinating books Diane, thank you :)
    Thanks for stopping by my SWF post and I wish you a great weekend.
    Denise
    An English Girl Rambles

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    1. Thanks Denise, you have a good "dry" weekend as well -- we are water logged but sun tomorrow.

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  5. I love Mary Roach's writing style. No matter what the topic she makes it interesting and entertaining. This one is on my reading list.

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    1. I think you will like it Leslie; audio is good as well.

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  6. I've heard this can get pretty gross. Did you find yourself frequently saying ewww?

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    1. parts were a little gross, so a few ewww's were called for.:)

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  7. I may have to look for this one. I agree with her observation about smell. As a motorcycle rider, I am forever amazed but the smell of flowers, grasses, animals and yes, roadkill too.

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    1. Judy...you know something many of us don't about smell - very cool.

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  8. I think I will wait for the movie!

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  9. Oh, dear. I'm not sure about this one! (TMI about Elvis, LOL.)

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    1. Diana, I was never an Elvis fan, so I didn't need to know about his "mega-colon". LOL

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  10. STIFF was very interesting and I appreciate Roach's style... may have to give this one a try.

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  11. I loved her first book and didn't think I would ,so I'm pretty sure this one would work for me!!!

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  12. I feel a little dirty knowing that about Elvis. I haven't read Roach yet, but this one is on my wish list.

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  13. I will absolutely read anything Roach writes!

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