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Gulp by Mary Roach

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal - Mary Roach

Once you get past the ick factor, this is a fascinating book. I’d previously read Stiff, so I suspected this would be a humorous and somewhat irreverent view of our digestive system. Roach did not disappoint! She starts with taste and smell, moves on to saliva, down the rest of the alimentary canal to the end product. She talks to doctors, scientist and prisoners. She gives us a birds-eye view stomach digestion via a hole in a man’s stomach, teaches us what is and is not o.k. to smuggle by ingesting as well as what type and quantities of contraband is smuggled rectally into prisons. We learn about Elvis Presley’s megacolon and get the answer to how he died and why his weight fluctuated so dramatically. We learn how fecal transplantation can cure a gastrointestinal infection. And so much more. Roach dug up many factoids and anecdotes—some went a bit too far, but interesting nevertheless. Some may think it’s too much information, but Roach once again gives us a humorous look at a topic others would shy away from. I was ambivalent about reading this via audio, but was quite happy with my choice. The narrator, Emily Woo Zeller, did a nice job of conveying Roach's wry humor.