logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: Mary-Roach
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-09-21 17:07
Gulp
Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal - Mary Roach

Several years ago, I listened to the audiobook version of Gulp.  My reaction at the time was “Fascinating, with just the right amount of yuck factor.” 

 

I re-read Gulp during the early part of September since it was picked as the first Flat Book Society read.  The chatty, anecdotal style that worked so well for the first listen, didn’t hold up as well to a (print) re-read.  The level of detail for many of the chapters seemed more appropriate for a podcast or a newspaper article than for a book, and perhaps would have been better if encountered in episodic form with a break between sections.

 

My least favorite parts were the early chapters discussing the history of Fletcherism (obsessive chewing) and the 19th century experiments on Alexis St. Martin (he of the fistulated stomach), both stories I’d previously encountered.  The book picked up a bit once Ms. Roach started talking about the Oral Processing Lab at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and other recent research into the digestive process.   I particularly liked the chapter debunking the story of Jonah and the "whale." While many find the closing chapter regarding stool transplants repugnant, as someone with a delicate digestion, I found the idea of recolonizing the digestive system fascinating.

 

If you can appreciate potty humor and are interested in a semi-random series of tidbits loosely connected to digestion, then you might want to pick up Gulp for your next audiobook or bathroom read.   

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-09-14 05:39
Gulp.
Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal - Mary Roach

Where to start?  

 

This was the book chosen (by popular vote) as The Flat Book Society's first official read.  Opinions seem to be firmly split down the middle, and while possibly an inauspicious start to our fledgling club, it definitely generated a lot of discussion.  

 

My personal feelings about the book started off complicated:  this is not the book I signed up for.  I was hoping for an accessible but scientific look at the human digestive process from start to finish, looking at each step of the process in relative detail.  I think a lot of us thought that was the book we were getting.

 

Gulp is not that book.

 

At first this was disappointing - it still is in the sense of the curiosity unfulfilled - but as I continued reading, and adjusted my expectations once it became obvious I was not going to get the book I expected, I ended up enjoying it a lot.

 

Anyone who has ever read Judith Stone's columns in Discover magazine (a very long time ago) will know what to expect from Gulp (some of them were published in a book called Light Elements: Essays in Science from Gravity to Levity).  Mary Roach is Judith Stone's successor, writing about the science that either seems trivial to most people, or the science no one wants to talk about.  Obviously, Gulp is the latter.

 

This is an overview of digestion in general; not just human, although that is the primary focus.  Roach looks at it from both an anthropological view, discussing the effects our social views and taboos about digestion have on everything from the food we eat, to the medical care we receive, as well as the scientific as she interviews scientists, looks at case histories and discuses current research.  

 

Think of Gulp as an introduction; an audit (in the US English sense of the word), of the vast science of gastroenterology, written with a whole lot of humor. Roach never shies away from a joke, a double entendre, or a bit of lighthearted but vulgar fun.  She never stoops to locker room level humour and she never does it at the expense of accuracy, but you can tell she's had a good time writing this book.  She'd definitely be someone I'd enjoy meeting, although probably not at any social event including food.

 

If that's the kind of book that appeals to you, definitely check this out; it will be informative and entertaining.  If you're hoping for a more focused look at the intricacies of eating and digestion, pass this one on by; it will definitely disappoint.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2017-09-12 07:52
Reading progress update: I've read 265 out of 348 pages.
Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal - Mary Roach

I've read through chapter 15 and I'm knee deep in the taboo stuff at this point and I have to say, as juvenile as it may sound, I've laughed out loud several times.  And I've learned a few things here and there.  Mostly it's just been interesting.

 

This might not be hard science, but she does a really good job at making an uncomfortable subject approachable.  

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-09-11 05:57
GULP by MARY ROACH
Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal - Mary Roach

TITLE:  Gulp:  Adventures of the Alimentary Canal

 

AUTHOR:  Mary Roach

 

FORMAT:  e-book

 

ISBN-13:  978-0-393-24030-6

 

______________________________________________________________________

 

NOTE:  The Flat Book Society Book Club selected Gulp by Mary Roach as the book to read for September and October 2017.

______________________________________________________________________

 

 

When a book is titled “Gulp: Adventures of the Alimentary Canal” and marketed as popular science, the potential reader assumes they will be reading a book that discusses how the digestive system works and other interesting facts about the alimentary canal.  Well… that is NOT this book.  This book is something of an unfocused hodge-podge of breezy, superficial facts; throw-away statements (we want to know more!); and odd historical stories about the scientists and their less than savoury experiments on the digestive tract.

 

The book is divided into 17 chapters which loosely  follow the physiological structure of the alimentary canal, beginning with taste and smell, and covering such topics as organ meats, cultural food preferences, chewing, gastric acid, saliva, swallowing, being eaten alive, eating too much, intestinal gasses and flammability, extra-curricular storage functions, colonic direction, constipation, and gut-microflora transplants.  After a while I found that the chapters started to blur together due to the collection of random facts, pointless fillers, multiple side tangents, and not-so-witty footnotes. 

 

I’m not really sure what the aim of this book was supposed to be, but it is more entertaining (if you find potty humour and fashion commentary entertaining) than educational.  In any case, Roach seems to take delight in showcasing the more sensational trivia and taboos about the digestive system, while at the same time providing excessive fashion commentary of the people she interviews.  There is very little actual science in this book and a limited coverage of the functioning of the alimentary canal.  This book emphasized the strange and bizarre occurrences related to the digestive system, but never fully explained the system itself.   

 

I found the writing to be a little sloppy with odd sentence structures, interesting single sentence comments that went no-where and lack of clarity between fact and personal opinion.  In addition, the author has an irreverent, rambling style with excessive asides, puns, dodgy humour and innuendoes, and a preoccupation with toilet humour that might appeal more to a 12 year old boy trying to revolt his baby sister than someone actually looking for information about the topic.  The excessive, crude toilet humour also didn’t appeal to me.

 

The subject matter has the potential to be extremely interesting; however, this book is not.  One reviewer described this book as the “Trivial Pursuit version of the “adventures on the alimentary canal,” not the informative, organized tour designed to give insight in an entertaining way”.  I can’t really argue with that.

 

I would not recommend this book to anyone, except possibly the aforementioned 12 year old boy in the hopes of enticing him away from the computer/ TV for a while.  There is too much filler and pointless trivia; and very little actual science in this book.

 

 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-09-11 04:29
Gulp by Mary Roach
Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal - Mary Roach

Although not quite entirely devoid of interesting content, it was pretty close. Instead of fact-based discussion about our digestive system with some humour sprinkled along the way, we're treated to 19th century experiments that the author admits did not contribute anything to the advancement of scientific knowledge of the day. She wastes space with her musings on a painting of one of the "scientists" and his subject that was painted almost a century after their deaths as if it could give her a hint of their relationship.

 

Many scientists were interviewed for this book, but almost as much time was spent on describing what they wore and their physical features than on their work. There was some time spent on more recent research and some facts were explored, but it was a case of too little, too late.

 

Really, this read like a series of magazine articles to be used as filler to fulfill some quasi-science quota in some lifestyle publication. Don't go looking for accessible explanations of the science because most of the text is spent on speculation, fashion comments, and 19th century experiments.

 

I read this for The Flat Book Society. I hope the next book is more interesting!

 

Not that that'll be hard.

 

Previous updates:

44 of 348 pages

42 of 348 pages

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?