Most people don’t think about what happens to what they eat between ingestion and going to the bathroom. Mary Roach is one of those people that just has to know – and then she writes a perfectly fascinating book about it, titled Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal. For those like me who have forgotten many things from their high school biology class, the alimentary canal is the mouth, the other end, and everything in between.
Roach takes us on a journey through the entire process of eating, spending a chapter each on each part of the alimentary canal – lips, tongue, throat, stomach, intestines, and the rectum. With voracious curiosity and endless wit, she explores such interesting questions as why humans like crunchy foods, whether someone can eat themselves to death, and if constipation can kill you.
Roach’s books are perfect for those who say they don’t like stuffy, dry nonfiction, with its informal, conversational tone and slightly off-putting topics (perhaps her most famous book is called Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, another standout). Funny, fun, and endlessly fascinating, her books delve into topics that everyone is interested in, but don’t like to talk about. Mary Roach is one of my favorite nonfiction authors, and Gulp is certainly a worthy addition to her collection of off-kilter exposés of the human condition.
Review by Shannon Wood
Adult Services Librarian
Nordonia Hills Branch Library