Adventures on the Alimentary Canal

Book - 2013 | 1st ed.
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Few of us realize what strange wet miracles of science operate inside us after every meal. In her trademark style, Mary Roach investigates the beginning, and end, of our food, addressing such questions as why crunchy food is so appealing, how much we can eat before our stomachs burst, and whether constipation killed Elvis.
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton, c2013.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780393081572
Branch Call Number: 612.3 ROACH
Characteristics: 348 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.


From Library Staff

For those who like science that can gross out your friends, this book is a must-read. Packed with information about the giant tube that connects each end of our bodies - including a chapter on Elvis' colon - you'll have all sorts of cool facts to pull out at stuffy dinner parties.

From the critics

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IndyPL_SteveB Aug 28, 2019

A fascinating, funny, intelligent, informative, and – if you are inclined that way – possibly disgusting examination of what goes on inside the mouth, stomach, small intestine, and colon. Mary Roach is one of my favorite non-fiction writers. She knows how to take a complex subject, break it into manageable chunks, explain it clearly, laugh crazily at all the weird stuff involved with it, and then leave you a lot smarter than you were before.

Some of the topics include the amazing characteristics of saliva; Alexis St. Martin, “The Man with a Hole in his Stomach” and his employer/torturer, Dr. William Beaumont; whether you can rupture your stomach by overeating (yes, but it is incredibly hard to do); and the possible benefits of fecal transplant therapy. There were two chapters especially fascinating to me: one on Horace Fletcher, the quack doctor who said that chewing each bite of food *hundreds* of times would give people twice the nourishment; and an interview with Elvis Presley’s doctor on the intestinal birth defect that contributed to Presley’s early death.

Mar 07, 2018

Funny, easy to read, nothing like what you would expect a book about the digestive system to be...Surprising!

ArapahoeJillK Jan 23, 2018

This author brings gross science to life with a keen interest and an abundance of humor.

Jan 08, 2018

2018 Deschutes Public Library Author! Author! author for January 2018

It was good for this genre but I have firmly decided I can hardly stand this genre of "science(y) writing." Descriptions of the people you consult: what they wear, their eye color, etc. Who gives the slightest? This is science. None of that matters even remotely. It also simply adds fluff and removes word count from the actual topic.

Her humor is generally quite sophomoric and just too much with the focus on "apropos" names and such.

I doubt I will be reading any more Roach books and hope to avoid many more books like it as I have already encountered way too many.

HCL_staff_reviews Oct 27, 2017

Science writer Mary Roach takes the most taboo subjects, and delivers irreverent comic writing that informs you while making you laugh out loud. In <i>Gulp</i>, she seeks answers to questions most wouldn't even ask their doctor after a few cocktails. If you have ever wondered why so many people hate liver, if chewing your food longer will really make you lose weight, why certain smells are so offensive to us, or if any of the rumors about the manner of Elvis' death are true, this book is for you.
Also available as audiobook on CD. — Jennifer W., Westonka Library

Aug 07, 2017

Not my favourite of Mary Roach's books (that would be Stiff, followed by Bonk), because the information contained is fairly well known and mundane; most of the chapters come across as slightly kooky, first person science articles. In fairness, the impacted colon chapter gave me shameful joy.

Jun 08, 2017

She's done it again!

MomoT Oct 17, 2016

Mary Roach's science-themed books are always informative, diverting and amusing and this travel along the gastrointestinal tract is no exception.

I never thought I'd know this much about Elvis Presley's colon (and enjoy doing so).

Oct 10, 2016

Very funny and informative. Don’t read it while eating as some of the information is quite gross. It’s partly about the human digestive tract (from stem to stern) and partly about the author’s amusing adventures while researching the book. You won’t learn everything about it but at least you will get a taste of what’s going on inside your own system!

Aug 06, 2016

From top to "bottom" Mary Roach explains the workings of the alimentary canal with scientific history and humor.

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