Gulp by Mary Roach: Book Review

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Cover of Gulp by Mary Roach

4 Stars

Mary Roach has a gift for making science accessible and–dare I say it?–even funny. In this book, she tackles the digestive system.

Covering topics ranging from thorough chewing (as in 700+ chews for One. Freaking. Bite.) to the miraculous properties of spit, from being eaten alive to the possibility (or not) of chewing your way out if you are, from “The alimentary canal as criminal accomplice” to *ahem* flatus, and ending up with bacterial transplants to treat intractable digestive ailments, this book asks everything you might possibly have ever wanted to know on the topic but were afraid to ask.

I have a pretty juvenile sense of humor, so all of the fart jokes, and spit jokes, and *ahem* “criminal accomplice” jokes had me at least giggling. In the two chapters devoted to flatulence, I was quite honestly laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. Not that it was necessarily that funny but because “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe she went there. And there. And there!” I’m almost ashamed of myself. Almost. Luckily my husband and I have the same sense of humor so he just kept playing whatever game on his phone as I laughed myself silly and waited for me to catch my breath and report so he could share in the joke too.

I’ve worked in healthcare for years, so I’ve developed a pretty strong stomach (though I’m not a nurse or CNA and haven’t ever had to wade into the trenches, so to speak), so nothing in here bothered me. That will obviously not be the case for all of you. If you can stomach it (heehee!), I do recommend this. If it doesn’t seem to be your kind of thing, it’s probably not.

Read an excerpt.

Find author Mary Roach on her website and Twitter.

Check out my 4-star review of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, also by this author.

Buy Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal at

Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader
Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

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  1. Coincidentally I just finished and posted this book as my microhistory pick for both the Eclectic Reader and Book Riot's Read Harder challenge! I was actually concerned that it only barely fell into the microhistory category so I'm glad someone else picked it as well. I've read and loved all her books with Stiff probably being my favorite and I think this one moved into the second slot. It was really well constructed and VERY funny (possibly her funniest?) as well as informative.

  2. Sounds like a great read,mand a perfect pick for the challenge. Thanks for sharing your review!

  3. I'm half-way through Stiff and having good fun, although I can't listen to it in the dark, before falling asleep, as I would with any other book…

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