Gulp is my second Mary Roach book (I’d previously read and loved Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers) and is a thoroughly entertaining trip through our digestive systems. I do have digestive issues of my own, which no doubt heightened the appeal of this book to me, but as it’s so interesting and entertainingly written, I expect those whose stomachs don’t kick off regularly will also find something to enjoy.
Gulp takes you through the whole process – from smell (which actually provides us with taste), and what happens when you pop food into your mouth, through to the food leaving your system once again. Throughout the journey, there are tons of interesting facts, anecdotes, and details of experiments to marvel at. And while some might find the contents a little too much for their stomachs to handle, I read most of this during my lunch breaks (although I have to admit that, being in possession of said digestive issues, my tolerance for the gross bits is much higher than most).
I had no idea about most of the tidbits that we’re fed throughout – the next time I stain my clothes I’ll definitely be trying spitting on them to break down the enzymes, before popping them in the wash with the detergent that I had no idea was based on saliva’s ability to do so) and the next time I’m struggling with my stomach I’ll at least be grateful that I’m not Alexis St Martin, who spent most of his life as a subject for experimentation after a stomach wound formed a fistula that allowed his ‘doctor’ to start playing around with his gastric juices.
I’m glad to see there’s yet more Mary Roach for me to read – and I don’t imagine it will be wrong before I pick up my next.