Adventures on the Alimentary Canal

Roach, Mary

Book - 2013
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Few of us realize what strange wet miracles of science operate inside us after every meal. In her trademark style, Mary Roach investigates the beginning, and end, of our food.

Publisher: New York :, W.W. Norton & Company,, [2013]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 0393081575
Characteristics: 348 pages :,illustrations ;,22 cm


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Feb 04, 2015
  • jmikesmith rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Another fascinating and entertaining book by Mary Roach, this time on everything to do with eating, digesting, and excreting. Her humour is a bit toned down in this one, because digestion is just kind of gross and people don't like to joke about it. This book deals as much with the history of our exploration of how digestion works as much with the actual, current understanding of it. We learn about men with holes into their stomachs that allowed researchers to dangle pieces of food inside them and see how long they took to be dissolved. We find out that a drop of the right kind of saliva can turn a spoonful of custard (which is apparently Sweden's national snack) from a gel to a liquid. And it turns out about a third of the population produces methane in their guts, which can be highly flammable. As always, there are plenty of footnotes, usually about the quirks of English and the mysteriously appropriate names of nutrition researchers.

Nov 22, 2014
  • whyisitso rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Yet another excellent Mary Roach book. Entertaining, informative, and exceedingly interesting. All of her books are excellent and surprising.

May 11, 2014
  • Jane60201 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Thoroughly enjoyable way to learn physiology. I found the science in it very interesting and the presentation very compelling. Would recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about how their body works.

Mar 19, 2014
  • sess430 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

I learned some interesting and new-to-me information about the digestive tract but was disappointed with the number of pages devoted to the disgusting things some people do to their bodies (re: the titles to chapters 10 & 11) and the over-use of bad puns. Since each chapter is a stand-alone essay, one can easily skip the ones of least interest. If you were ever an Elvis fan, then chapter 16 could be of interest.

Feb 22, 2014

My favorite read of 2013 and my favorite M Roach book. Still telling people about anecdotes from the book and enjoying the varied reactions. People taste-testing dog food, studies of food preferences of infants and the story of Elvis's intestinal troubles among my favorites.

Feb 04, 2014
  • Cynthia_N rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

What a great read!! As you would expect it is informative and disgusting. Fecal transplants?!? Loved the footnotes.

Nov 17, 2013
  • tocch101 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

An interesting read, but not as interesting as some of her other works. The cultural ideas and bounds that are explained and overcome by some scientist are very interesting.

Jul 27, 2013
  • writermala rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This book is subtitled, "Adventures on the Alimentary Canal," well reading the book was an adventure indeed! If you had told me I would be reading, let alone raving about, a book devoted largely to spit and S**t, I would have scoffed. Now I know different.
I am not sure if Roach is just out right funny, tongue in cheek, or at times even serious when she cracks me up. Her chapter headings and footnotes are particularly hilarious and my personal favorites e"Revenge of dinner, " and "Inflammable you: fun with hydrogen and methane." If there is only one non-fiction book you are letting yourself read this year this is the one - i.e if it doesn't make you recycle your dinner!

Jun 28, 2013
  • BrickBook rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

As usual, fascinating, riveting from start to finish! (Or perhaps from snout to tail.) Mary Roach is such a good writer. There's a reason why most of her titles contain the word "curious."

Jun 17, 2013
  • MT60 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Mary Roach can be counted on for well-researched treatment of less explored topics presented in a clever, humorous fashion.

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Jun 28, 2013
  • BrickBook rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

From Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds: "the girl with colitis goes by."


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