Book: Gulp – Mary Roach
This book, unlike some I’ve reviewed, isn’t a manual on digestive health, mind / gut link or the human microbiome. Its a more whimsy, although still serious, work about what we eat and how we process it.
Over 350 pages we look at how we relate to food – smell, taste and psychology – and why our cat or dog eats differently to us, and how their food is manufactured as much to please owner as consumer. We learn some less common things about digestion – gas and, er, emissions (“reverse engineer a fart”); smuggling using the internal cavities; the processes of elimination. Speculation of Elvis’s death – seriously – chronic constipation (“I’m all stopped up”) doesn’t seem out of place. So that makes this sound like a humorous bad taste book, the type that looks a good idea when you are Christmas shopping, but in cold light of day is vulgar.
Far from it – its a serious book, but the author has chosen to look at the topics from a different direction – not from the direction of a diet book, not from the direction of a manual on the digestive system, but from a social perspective. And it works well. I enjoyed this book, even for someone well read, it gave me some new insights.
So, its a book for the curious, those interested in learning a bit more about food, digestion and our relationship with them. Anyone wanting a manual on digestive health, or a cure for their IBS will probably be disappointed, albeit more illuminated.
Worth a read. Maybe a holiday book, or one for a long train journey.