Mary Roach, 2013
Gulp, Adventures on the Alimentary Canal was an informative tasting of journalistic semi-pseudo-scientific writing. In these pages Mary Roach explores a variety of curiosities regarding the human digestive tract, following the route that all food must pass, beginning at the first whiff of smell and taste through olfaction all the way on to the final excretion that all bowels must pass. Although, this non-fictive book is supported by strong research and interviews with several qualified specialists, Gulp should not be mistaken as a self -help of medical text. Roach writes with a journalistic inquisitiveness to satisfy any reader’s interests in the inner workings of their digestive exploits. With this in mind, any reader looking for the opportunity to expand their understanding of the body’s workings should be warned that throughout the book Mary Roach maintains a playful awareness about the subject matter that borders on, but never crosses, the prepubescent juvenile realm of fart and turd jokes. There is good fun in these pages and for non-fiction writing Gulp is an enjoyable light read.
I can’t say that there is anything groundbreaking or overly insightful here, but of course my nursing/medical knowledge has provided me with a fairly good understanding of the inner workings of the digestive tract, another reader may find some insightful information in these pages. Gulp is a fun light read that moves quite quickly, provided the reader isn’t too squeamish. In Gulp Roach explores several alimentary ailments including the historical belief that animals could live in the stomach and cause digestive discomfort to actual evidence of tapeworms and other parasites including the bane of hospital inpatients, the bowel destroying bacteria C. diff. Roach’s discussion of stool transplants to treat/cure C. diff was perhaps the most interesting part of the book for this nurse/reader. I found it inspiring that there is good evidence that stool transplants can treat and cure chronic C. diff and I found it quite frustrating to hear that the primary reason that this procedure hasn’t become common practice is that insurance is likely to deny coverage since the research of the procedure’s effectiveness has been caught up in FDA bureaucracy. Much of the book is filled with nice little tidbits of well researched information written with an entertaining flare. It is a worthwhile read, but not one that inspires me to say much more than that.
Please ignore the silly ads below this post. They do not reflect my opinion or the content of this post.