• Gulp

  • Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
  • By: Mary Roach
  • Narrated by: Emily Woo Zeller
  • Length: 8 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 04-02-13
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio
  • 4 out of 5 stars 4.1 (3,096 ratings)

Regular price: $31.49

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Editorial Reviews

Editors Select, April 2013 - Mary Roach is willing to “go there” in the name of Science. She has tackled sexual physiology in Bonk, the life of cadavers in Stiff, and now takes on the (not-so-hot) topic of the digestive system in Gulp. This journey begins at the top and ends at the bottom of the legendary alimentary canal, but Roach does not take us there in a straight line. There are side excursions to visit experts in the field of morning breathe and pet-food engineers. We explore the power of salvia and the origin of mythical fire-breathing serpents. By asking seemingly ridiculous questions like, “Does noxious flatus do more than clear a room?” Roach manages to dismiss those common misconceptions we all seem to have but never question out loud. In Gulp she serves-up Science just the way I like it: Well-researched, relevant, offbeat, and hilarious. —Tricia, Audible Editor
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Publisher's Summary

Best-selling author Mary Roach returns with a new adventure to the invisible realm we carry around inside. Roach takes us down the hatch on an unforgettable tour.
The alimentary canal is classic Mary Roach terrain: The questions explored in Gulp are as taboo, in their way, as the cadavers in Stiff and every bit as surreal as the universe of zero gravity explored in Packing for Mars. Why is crunchy food so appealing? Why is it so hard to find words for flavors and smells? Why doesn’t the stomach digest itself? How much can you eat before your stomach bursts? Can constipation kill you? Did it kill Elvis?
In Gulp we meet scientists who tackle the questions no one else thinks of - or has the courage to ask. We go on location to a pet-food taste-test lab, a fecal transplant, and into a live stomach to observe the fate of a meal. With Roach as our guide, we travel the world, meeting murderers and mad scientists, Eskimos and exorcists (who have occasionally administered holy water rectally), rabbis and terrorists - who, it turns out, for practical reasons do not conceal bombs in their digestive tracts. Like all of Roach’s books, Gulp is as much about human beings as it is about human bodies.
©2013 Mary Roach (P)2013 Tantor
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Heather on 06-24-14

Awesome, quirky read!

The science geek in me practically peed her pants she was so excited to read this book. (I guess my inner nerd has a mild case of urinary incontinence but that is neither here nor there...) I mean an entire book about the alimentary canal, starting with my home turf, the mouth? Count me in!

Will you enjoy this book? Well, that depends on how you answer the following questions. Have you ever wondered:

If you can die from trying to defecate too forcefully?
Why do animals eat their own poop?
Could the Jonah biblical story have scientific plausibility?
Why doesn't your stomach eat itself until there is nothing left?
What makes farts smell so disgusting?
What is the purpose of saliva and why do babies make so much?
How to prisoners smuggle so much junk up their butts?

I loved every second of finding out the answer to these questions and about 1,000 more that I didn't even know I had. I enjoyed the refresher course on human anatomy and physiology and LOVED Mary Roach's humorous approach to science. You do not have to have a science background to adore this book. It is perfectly suitable for all audiences, particularly ones that don't mind a little potty humor.

The narrator in the audiobook was spot on: Funny, tongue-in-cheek, and pleasant to listen too. This isn't a character-driven novel or anything like that, so the narrator just had to read the book and read it well, and that she did! I listened to this book in about a weeks time and felt a little more informed each day.

Warning: Possible side effects of reading this book include forcing your loved ones (aka the husband, in my case) to listen to about a bajillion facts about pooping, burps, farts, and gas. In case you are wondering, he did not appreciate learning that information, the neanderthal.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Mel on 04-05-13

Funtastic Voyage

If Mary Roach taught science, all the kids would earn A's. No, she's not a scientist, and this isn't research to reference on a term paper...but her humorous approach, irreverent wit, and ability to hunt down the most bizarre facts, combine to make any subject she tackles so entertaining and interesting you'll devour every word. One minute she is seriously discussing biology with academicians, the next she is telling the reader to blame those particularly malodorous *floaters* (flatulence) on the dog. Gulp is like her other one-syllable titled books (Stiff, Bonk, Spook), nothing is sacred, and nothing is off limits...including laughing while you learn. Like Isaac Asimov's Fantastic Voyage -- Gulp is a little like boarding a tour bus and being swallowed instead of injected into the human body; Roach is the tour guide/comedian that narrates the trip with an entertaining story, or bizarre fact at every stopping point on the way out. And there's only one way out of the alimentary canal...

Some of the subject matter was a tad gross--even more so than Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (which I thought was a little better), butt that is part of the tour. You won't want to listen around meal time, and her in-depth (npi) look at the *prison wallet* might have you skipping ahead. But, her trip to the dog food tasting facility, or her conversations with the bean tasters were hilarious. I would never had made it through the interviews, discussing controlled experimentation of flatulence, with a straight face. For all of us that were admonished at sometime for our *irreverent sense of humor* (Ms. B. from Biology and Principal L.)...this one's for you.

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39 of 46 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By L on 05-02-18


A fun little pop-sci book. However, we got a lot of the end and beginning, but not of the middle processes. I would have rather had three books for each topic, as none of them gave me anything but a brief overview.

Though, perhaps I was expecting too much. I'd just like something in between a textbook and a pop-sci book on these digestive processes, as they seem fascinating.

Still, it was entertaining and quick to read. I liked the narrator very much, who kept it lively throughout. I'm not sure I'll be reading more of Roach - I really liked Stiff, but all these other books of hers seem to encompass much larger subject matter, which, if they are anything like this one, will be rushed through.

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