Friday, April 6, 2018

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach

Rating: 2 of 5 stars
Length: 8:21:00
Published: April 2013
Read by: Emily Woo Zeller

If you follow my blog, you may know that I've been trying to listen to more audiobooks. I had hoped to visually read this book, but only the audiobook was available at the time I started*. While the topic of this book was the stomach, it literally gave me a headache. 

In my book club (check us out!), we read a different genre each month, and April's genre was popular science. I've decided that maybe this just isn't my genre. I don't think the book is poorly written or lacks depth, it's just not something that is of genuine interest to me.  

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach is a comical yet informative non-fiction, popular science book about all things having to do with the alimentary canal. I work in the arts, so I had to look this up. According to, alimentary is concerned with the function of nutrition; pertaining to food. A quick perusal of offered that Ms. Roach is one of the leading authorities in presenting this type of material in an easily digestible (pun intended) manner. So, I nominated it for book club and was pleased when it won by popular vote. (We don't deal with that messy electoral college.) 

Roach is clearly well-read and studied in this topic. She is also quite hilarious, so much so that she probably could choose a career in stand-up comedy if the science writing thing doesn't work out. (Although, I think the science writing bit is working out for her. She's pretty prolific.) In Gulp, the author offers various historical vignettes delivered with a humorous punch to illustrate the fascinating characteristics of the body. While some parts are funny, the book is very detailed and scholarly. It got a little cumbersome at times for me as I typically read to escape reality. However, there were nuggets of information I found interesting. For example, Roach tells us that her research has shown that we eat with our ears. We consume crunch/crispy foods to alleviate stress. These type of foods also signal freshness and healthiness to us. On the contrary, I found the chapter on flatulence to be the most dull chapter. I have never understood why boys (and some men) are so amused by this topic. 

Recommendation: Overall, the book was an informative read but not one that I would pick up again nor recommend to a friend with similar reading tastes. Albeit educational, I wouldn't recommend it to my elementary school-aged niece either as there is some pretty colorful language. I think readers who appreciate math and science might find this book intriguing. 

Until next time ... Read on!

*As an aside, my awesome Librarian was able to secure a license for the eBook when I was about halfway through, and I read the second half of the book while listening.


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