Publication Year: 2013
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Date Started: Jan. 11, 2017
Date Finished: Jan. 20, 2017
Beverage of choice: Water. Just water, trust me
I am a scientist by training, a yet in my free time I still enjoy reading about science. And I think that’s why I like Mary Roach’s book so much. They are full of just the fun information about scientific discovery and the process of science. Roach continually approaches subjects that are slightly taboo, even in today’s society. I first read Stiff several years ago, a book about what happens to your body if you donate it to science. This book got me hooked on her writing, as she adds humor to the subject that few give a second thought to. In fact, it made me decide that I wish my body to be composted after I pass, to provide nutrition to a tree.
With this past experience with her writing, I was excited to read Gulp. Within this collection, Roach explores not only current research, but historical anomalies that surround the subject of digestion and related topics. I have many pets, so I was particularly interested in the chapter encompassing the creation of dog and cat food flavors. I deal with kibble every single day, yet I never gave it much thought. Particularly, how does my taste and smell differ from my puppy’s, and how do food companies actually test pet excitement? Well, Roach found out. No subject is off topic. Including the history of stomach pumping, fecal transplants, and the offensiveness of gas.
As I mentioned, Roach tends to add humor to her writing, which at many times I appreciate, but at other times I find to be beyond childish. This aside, I feel like I was always left wishing for a little more detail about the scientists she interviews, the actual process behind their science, and more detail about the results. At many points it feels like detail are sacrificed for a cheap laugh or one liner science factoids. But, again, this could be just me.
It was a fun read, though I felt not as strong as Stiff.
Overall, 3/5 moose