Subtitle: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
Genre: nonfiction science
Length: 327 pages of story, 348 pages with bibliography
Interest: Mary Roach was recently interviewed on NPR about this book. I read Stiff and enjoyed it immensely, so I put this book higher on my to read list.
Summary: Roach discusses all the organs of the alimentary canal and all kinds of information about those organs and their secretions. Roach dives down the rabbit hole and approaches many scientists doing research on this topic, including things like saliva and flatulence. She starts with eating food, including everything from the smell of food, to chewing, to our choice of food. From there, shoe moves into the stomach, testing out an urban legend of organisms chewing their way out of a stomach, and looking into the purpose of stomach acid. Finally, she moves down into the colon, discussing its storage capabilities and it’s microbial flora.
Final thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. Roach’s writing style emphasizes her amazement at the intricacies of the human body, and she is able to search out scientists equally enthusiastic at their otherwise bizarre research into the alimentary canal. I learned all kinds of random tidbits of information I had to share on Twitter (my favorite being the biological basis to the myth of a fire-breathing dragon). There were times when the topic got a bit disgusting (for example, when she discusses stomach fistulas), but Roach never wrote to specifically gross you out. The book is written for an adult audience, though, since some of her footnotes could get a bit “adult”, but they added another level of amusement to the book.
Title comes from: The book is all about the digestive track/alimentary canal and a trip through starts with a gulp. It also follows her naming convention of a single syllable word as a title.
Reading challenges fulfilled: 25/100 in my 100 Book Challenge
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