Customer Reviews


31 Reviews
5 star:
 (19)
4 star:
 (10)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reader's Digestion
Science journalist Mary Roach has chosen the alimentary tract as the subject of her latest book. She takes us on a tour through the digestive tube from the entrance to the back passage with flexible scope for illuminating the journey with extraordinary facts and figures on the way. The tales of eccentric scientists and their studies along with the footnotes are worth the...
Published 13 months ago by ACB (swansea)

versus
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Funny but sometimes at the expense of accuracy
Let me first say i very much enjoyed reading this book. Mary Roach is an accomplished and personable writer with a style that makes a refreshing change from some of the rather dry reading provided by other popular science books.

However i did notice a few inaccuracies in 'Gulp' such as the notes on the origin of the term 'Quack' and more worryingly the doubts...
Published 14 months ago by Journeyman


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reader's Digestion, 1 Jun 2013
By 
ACB (swansea) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
Science journalist Mary Roach has chosen the alimentary tract as the subject of her latest book. She takes us on a tour through the digestive tube from the entrance to the back passage with flexible scope for illuminating the journey with extraordinary facts and figures on the way. The tales of eccentric scientists and their studies along with the footnotes are worth the price of admission to the exploration alone. Taste and smell are the doormen for the digestive tract, chemical scanners for possible dangerous elements (bitter, sour) and desirable (salty and sweet). Saliva is more than a lubricant. It contains enzymes that start breaking down food that are also used in laundry detergents. How we chew is a physiological fingerprint and we learn of Fletcherism, chewing each bite at least 70 times to release nutrients, still used today by some as a slimming aid. Chew and spit as a weight loss strategy is mentioned. Elton John was falsely accused of practising this by a tabloid and received healthy damages. Chewing without swallowing is counterproductive. Everything above the neck (smelling, tasting, seeing) drives eating and everything below puts the breaks on. Why do we enjoy crispy, crunchy foods that the food industry has exploited? Why do Inuits prefer Caribou liver, brain, eyes and stomach contents to eat rather than steak, or babies preferring brain and bone marrow over sweet foods when presented with a selection of mashed foods? The likely answers are here.

Air swallowing (aerophagia) or overeating producing burps , belching and heartburn are explained, as are stomach rupture and competitive eating with startling revelations. The small bowel is not given much detail (it absorbs digested food) although stories of 'tummy' rumbles due to gas (borborygmi) led patients to believe they had snakes, frogs or newts inside them sometimes resulting in needless surgery, in the 1800's. The large bowel (colon) and beyond are more interesting to the author. Smuggling drugs, mobile phones, razor blades, but not explosives, either by swallowing or rectal insertion (hooping) are covered. Flatus and it's many properties are discussed in detail with anecdotes of the dangers of its flammability. Megacolons (both grossly increased in length and diameter) are linked to constipation and death. Elvis Presley is subjected to lengthy speculation concerning the role of his large bowel in the cause of his demise. The colon is a drying machine with the products stored in the rectum before passage to the sensitive anus ('it has to know what's knocking on it's back door') before defaecation. The use of per anum (via the anus) is amusingly confused with per annum (yearly). Hence the Sri Lankan importer who needed 3,600 metric tons of garlic per anum and someone who questioned how many people died from horse riding per anum?

Mary Roach has given a humorous well-researched account of the subject in her inimitable style. As a doctor I am familiar with the digestive tract and particularly enjoyed the history, bizarre facts and presentation from a completely different perspective. Recommended as a funny and educational read without laying the science on too thickly.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seriously funny, 29 Mar 2013
I've been lucky enough to read a preview copy of her book. I was an enormous fan of Bonk, and whilst I was dubious that I'd be as entertained during "Gulp" as I'm not a fan of scatological humour and I'm a doctor- so I'm fairly familiar with the alimentary tract- I had underestimated Mary Roach. I think she'd be top on my list for a fantasy dinner party. She takes ordinary things and thinks about them in the most extraordinary way. So this isn't a dull journey through biology, instead it touches on topics ranging from tasting cat biscuits to smuggling smartphones up your bum into jail to why suicide bombers have never "bodypack" their explosives. There is more focus on the top end and the bottom end (to be honest there really isn't much of interest to say about the jejunum no matter how enquiring your mind is) but it a substantial length and you never get tired of it. If you enjoyed her previous books, or are just curious about the human body you will love this. Also a great gift for any scientist in your life.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You Are What You Eat, 7 April 2013
By 
prisrob "pris," (New England USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
'Laundry detergent is essentially a digestive tract in a box.' Now, where else but in a book written by Mary Roach, the author who loves wierd science, would we learn such a thing? I mean, it makes sense, but I have never seen anyone write those words. In her new book, 'Gulp' etc, Mary Roach takes us from the mouth to the anus, and all the by-ways in-between. It is one of the more fascinating and informative books I have read in a long time. I am a health care practitioner, but I have learned more about our alimentary canal and the research involved in it's mysteries, than any of my Anatomy and Physiology books. There is so much to know and learn, I want to cover it all, but I won't, I will leave it to you to go on this journey.

"The human digestive track is like the Amtrak line from Seattle to Los Angeles; transit time is about thirty hours , and the scenery on the last lag is pretty monotonous". There you have it, from the first bite of food that is first smelled, chewed, oral digestive acids acted up on, moved down the esophagus to the stomach and into the bowels, large and small intestine and then into the anus, where the food that went in is expelled. The circuitous route taken is fascinating.

Chewing leads to a discussion of saliva, and we learn "Bodily fluids, gas and excrement may disgust us once they leave the body, but "we are large, mobile vessels of the very substances we find most repulsive." We learn a lot about 'gas', it's make-up, smell, testing, who makes the most gas, farting, and on and on. Megacolon, the large bowel dilatation that causes much straining to release it's contents and can cause cardiac arrhythmia and death, as it probably did for Elvis Presley. Mary Roach spent a great deal of time in her research for this book, traveling the world. Somehow she knew what questions to ask, who to meet, what experiments to take part in.

This really is one of the best books I have read this year. I am a mystery lover, and this book has uncovered mysteries I never knew existed.

"Most of us pass our lives never once laying eyes on our organs, the most precious and amazing things we own. Until something goes wrong, we barely give them thought. This seems strange to me. It is, of course, possible that I seem strange. You may be thinking, 'Wow, that Mary Roach has her head up her a**.' To which I say, 'Only briefly, and with the utmost respect!" Mary in her own words!

Recommended. prisrob
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mary Roach never disappoints, 13 Sep 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
However disgusting it gets, it's impossible not to keep on reading. Immense fun, and the knowledge slips down easily. The digester's read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Instructive and entertaining, but selective rather than comprehensive, 9 Dec 2013
By 
T. D. Welsh (Basingstoke, Hampshire UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Like other reviewers I was struck by Mary Roach's pleasant, humorous take on the many wonderful and disgusting facts about the alimentary canal. Of the 17 chapters, about six and a half relate to the anus, rectum, and intestines and their products. There are also chapters on what goes on in your mouth when you eat, how much you can eat before you burst (literally), the properties of saliva, why some foods smell and taste more attractive, etc. What I missed - and what I really bought the book to learn about - was a systematic account of digestion, and how the oesophagus, stomach, duodenum, and small intestine work together to process food and extract nutrients. Whether because the author failed to find sufficiently colourful scientists doing research on those subjects, or because they are too well (or inadequately?) understood, I found little useful material of that kind. But don't let that put you off (unless you too are seeking specific information). It's almost impossible to read this book without learning a great deal, thinking "eeeeeew" from time to time, and laughing quite often.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For Anyone Curious as To How Your Tubing Works---& It's Hilarious Too, 4 Sep 2013
By 
Jay Gilbertson "Published Author" (Prairie Farm, WI USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Gulp. Adventures on The Alimentary Canal

By Mary Roach

Though author Roach was recently called "America's funniest science writer" (Washington Post) she is not a scientist and claims that she often times has to fake her way through interviews with the experts. This alone was enough of an endorsement to get my attention, yet I've read her work before and pretty much knew what I was in for. Or did I?

Though author Roach starts off with a non-alimentary canal location (the nose) it's quickly explained that it is through the process of smell that we eat what we do, not necessarily because of how it tastes. Eighty to Ninety percent, to be exact. And on she travels, down our inner tubing, splashing next into the stomach. Since mine is on the sensitive side, I paid close attention to this particular chapter, before moving on down.

"...stomachs can digest themselves. Gastric acid and pepsin digest the cells of the stomach's protective layer quite effectively...the organ swiftly rebuilds what it breaks down. A healthy adult has a new stomach lining every three days."

Food for thought indeed.

The author offers tons of interesting facts, figures and things to consider, here are just a few; Laundry detergent is essentially a digestive tract in a box, fecal transplants can cure intractable C. diff infection, internal cleansings are very unhealthy, humans secrete two types of saliva--stimulated and un-stimulated and Elvis did not die of an overdose. I'm not telling, you'll have to read this baby to find out the truth.

Over the years, as you can well imagine, many, in the name of science, came up with all sorts of reasons why and how the body digested food and ways to help the process along. Take Horace Fletcher, the nut-case who instigated a famous fad for extreme over-chewing called Fletcherizing. He suggested that the best and most efficient way to get the biggest buck from every bite was to chew one's food until it was completely liquefied. Talk about long lunches!
Then author Roach researched the famous surgeon William Beaumont's case proving once and for all how little chewing is needed to digest most foods completely. It was done under rather unsavory conditions, but makes for some fascinating after-lunch reading.

Trust me, read it after.

She also delves into stuffing yourself for a living, using the lower intestine to transport items, nose-picking frequency and the history of flatulence research (you won't believe the ending).

"If things go as they should, the bacteria hysteria so lucratively nurtured by the likes of Purell and Lysol will begin to subside."

According to Roach, Bacteria is what keeps our system literally chugging along, without it, well, things that should move on and out (think grown children) can turn into all sorts of discomforts. She does hop around a great deal and touches on pet food science for some bizarre reason, but overall this is a hilarious as well as informing read.

"Most of us pass our lives never once laying eyes on our organs, the most precious and amazing things we own. Until something goes wrong, we barely give them thought."

This book will give you much to chew on.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read!, 13 May 2013
Too few people understand their insides, not giving food or its digestion a second thought once swallowed. This beautifully written book brings comedy to science. Everyone should read it so they understand more abou their bodies.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read about all those things we don't ant to talk about, 26 May 2013
By 
Harold Toms (Crawley in West Sussex UK) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I really enjoyed reading this book. It is not one for the squeamish but if you want to find out, in a light hearted manner, how your digestive system works then read this book. It is well written, amusing, enlightening.and I am more than happy to give it it's 5 star rating.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Informative and fun, 19 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I expected a systematic journey through the alimentary canal but what I got was much more eclectic and much more entertaining. Mary Roach has a journalist's instinct for a good story and although the focus is on science there are elements of history and anthropology in this book. She covers topics as diverse as Jonah and the whale, flatulence, market research for pet foods and smuggling inside prisons, all told with obvious enthusiasm.

At times, I found the humorous asides a rather intrusive and she was sometimes a bit too flippant about the manner of death of people who had died quite recently. However, these are small irritations and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and will definitely read more in the series.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What goes in...must come out., 2 April 2013
By 
Jill Meyer (United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Mary Roach's new book "Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal" is like her previous works, a witty look at a science subject. She's covered death, sex, and space travel, among other topics. In "Gulp", she takes on - gulp - our alimentary canal and looks at what goes in and what comes out.

Mary Roach is a "hands on" researcher of the subjects she writes about. And in "Gulp", Roach travels the world, talking to doctors and scientists about the ins and outs of the digestive system. She begins by talking about how food "appeals" to the eater through taste and smell. Then she travels downward through the body, talking about problems like constipation and acid reflux, which many people suffer from. She skips around her subject, though, which is the only complaint I have about the book. From rectal smuggling of small radios, razor blades, and drugs, both in - and out - of jails, to Elvis and his death, to impacted colons, Roach flutters from subject to subject.

Roach is not afraid to use the words in her book about bodily functions that I cannot use here in my review. No serious reader will choose to read "Gulp", in lieu of a medical textbook on the subject, but for the curious reader, Roach has written an interesting - if sometimes scattered - look at our basic plumbing. It's the kind of book that may push the interested reader to seek out more about the subject. And that's what's so good about Mary Roach's writing; the reader can take what's given and learn from it, or be stirred on to more serious reading.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach (Hardcover - 12 April 2013)
Used & New from: 6.25
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews