Shelf Control #199: Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!


Title: Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
Author: Mary Roach
Published: 2013
Length: 348 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

“America’s funniest science writer” (Washington Post) 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 at our side, 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.

How and when I got it:

Found it on the book swap shelf at work last year, so I grabbed it!

Why I want to read it:

Mary Roach is a truly funny science writer, and even though her books are way grosser than I can generally stand, I’m never not amused by her writing. I haven’t been drawn to Gulp because the subject matter sounded like it might be too icky for me, but hey, who can resist a free book? I did really enjoy two of her previous books, Stiff and Packing for Mars, so I know I like her writing style. Now it’s just a question of whether I can stomach (sorry… groan) this topic!

What do you think? Would you read this book?

Please share your thoughts!


Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

14 thoughts on “Shelf Control #199: Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach

  1. I love Mary Roach and am interested in this subject so picked it up in audiobook. I think would be much more enjoyable in print, narration was slightly annoying—and little too gleeful at the icky parts (which were gross but not too gross)

Comments... We love comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s