Mary Roach has found her stride. "The food chute is mine," she declares in the introductory chapter to Gulp
. A part of me wonders if some of her childlike glee is because with Gulp
, she has pinpointed a subject (the digestive system) that lends itself so easily to humor. In the past, her books Spook
treaded on morbid ground, while Bonk
was saucy and scandalous. Gulp
, however, with its singular focus on the ins and outs of the digestive tract, is Roach's opportunity to indulge in high-brow scatological humor and dive into research about methane, chewing, and laxatives.
is the kind of book that is worth reading in the company of others so that the many bizarre and fascinating facts that Roach has squished together can be easily shared. Roach approaches the entire digestive system with awe and an insatiable...
Beyond the Book
is a book about the digestive system. Describe it this way and your friends are probably unlikely to read it. But if they're aware of the ways Mary Roach approaches her content by incorporating anecdotes, focusing on the unusual details, and including the memorable characters who have peppered her research, the whole experience becomes much more worthwhile.
The genre of popular science writing lies between academic literature and personal narrative. While Roach's particular brand of quirkiness is unique, a...