Gulp, by Mary Roach

Once again Mrs. Roach has a hit. Adventures on the alimentary canal indeed; traveling with Mary from nose to stomach to colon and into the darkness of history is an absolute joy! Never would you imagine finding pleasure and fascination in the coprophagic habits of rats and rabbits. Who knew that it’s apparently perfectly survivable to have a hole from your stomach to the outside world, much less that it is regularly done on purpose? For science, of course.

There is no real plot to our little journey from food to fecal matter aside from the logical progression from top to bottom. Reading a book by Mary Roach is like being stuck on an airplane next to an odd stranger who, while others slumber and the world slips past below, gradually ignites a fascination for something you wouldn’t normally even think about. It is the kind of interaction that, after you debark you exchange phone numbers and try to tell your friends about this awesome thing you learned. If you’re anything like me, however, you fail to convey exactly why it’s important that rats eat their own feces and humans think their own farts stink. Not exactly topics for polite conversation, but the voice from the page is so vivid and funny as it narrates her interactions with smell specialists and doctors who perform poop transfusions that her enthusiasm is contagious. We want you to catch it. She and I find the weird things so fascinating that we want to impress its awesomeness upon everyone we meet.

I can’t say much more about the book. Her voice is passionate, her facts are well researched, her asides are hilarious and engaging, it’s an easy read and I would say the subject matter is exceptionally appropriate for teen boys and young people of both sexes. I highly encourage everyone I meet to pick up a copy of any of her books, off or no other reason than to remind yourself of the bliss and joy of curiosity and the satisfaction thereof. It is glorious.