Lollygagger’s #CBR5 Review #30: Gulp by Mary Roach

I love Ms. Roach’s books. Stiff is a particular favorite of mine. Her writing style reads more like a fun conversation than an informative book, even though her books are inevitably also filled with interesting tidbits.

This book was no exception. Following the life of food as it passes through, well, us, Gulp spends each chapter focused on a different bodily function, some spreading across multiple chapters. Each chapter has some interesting history and interviews with folks doing research you probably didn’t know was going on. It is fun, entertaining, and an easy read.

Really the only wish I had is one that’s more for my benefit than others. I wish the book had started out with a basic reminder of the all the functions along the way. What does the small intestine do again? Is the large intestine different from the colon? Yes, I learned this in biology (I think), but that was a couple of decades ago, and I kind of assumed a book about digestion would provide me with that reminder. Additionally, while each chapter is definitely interesting on its own, there isn’t the connection one might expect in this type of book. It seems to lend itself well to a piece by piece narrative, but she only follows that in the most general terms.

Like Stiff, there are some who will be turned off by the realistic and blunt nature of the book. There’s a lot of talk of body fluids, smells and other things that people usually don’t discuss in ‘polite company.’ But if that doesn’t bother you, and like fun facts and interesting bits of trivia, then I suggest adding it to your list.

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