WIRTW: Gulp by Mary Roach

Flatulence, and fistulas, and fecal matter – Oh my!

Last week I read Gulp by Mary Roach, a novel looking at the science of the alimentary canal (aka, the digestive tract). I’ve wanted to read Gulp since seeing her interview on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart  years ago about the book, but never had the chance. Fortunately, after a little bit of browsing through the public library, I found it!

Photo Credit: Associated Press

While many non-fiction books about human physiology may be dry and at times difficult to understand, Mary Roach takes the reader on a fun and interesting journey through the alimentary canal. Along the way, we visit pet food tasting facilities, a prison, a doctor who believes he figured how Elvis died, and a class for professional olive oil tasting.

Naturally, there is some toilet humor (somewhat hard to avoid considering the topic at hand), but there is a wealth of information that looks into the history of how our common knowledge of the digestive tract came to be. It’s really amazing to see the (sometimes horrifying and obsessive) curiosity and determination of these scientists to learn about (the sometimes disgusting and perplexing) human body.

Bonus – you can learn which gender has the worse farts and approximately how much uh, stuff the colon can fit!

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect for the book going in, but it was definitely worth reading!

Check out Mary Roach’s website for the official summary and links to purchase Gulp here.

For more resources on the alimentary canal, check these out: