• Gulp

  • Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
  • By: Mary Roach
  • Narrated by: Emily Woo Zeller
  • Length: 8 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 02-04-13
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.4 (30 ratings)

Editor reviews

Editors Select, April 2013 - Mary Roach is willing to “go there” in the name of Science. She has tackled sexual physiology in Bonk, the life of cadavers in Stiff, and now takes on the (not-so-hot) topic of the digestive system in Gulp. This journey begins at the top and ends at the bottom of the legendary alimentary canal, but Roach does not take us there in a straight line. There are side excursions to visit experts in the field of morning breathe and pet-food engineers. We explore the power of salvia and the origin of mythical fire-breathing serpents. By asking seemingly ridiculous questions like, “Does noxious flatus do more than clear a room?” Roach manages to dismiss those common misconceptions we all seem to have but never question out loud. In Gulp she serves-up Science just the way I like it: Well-researched, relevant, offbeat, and hilarious. —Tricia, Audible Editor
Show More Show Less


Best-selling author Mary Roach returns with a new adventure to the invisible realm we carry around inside. Roach takes us down the hatch on an unforgettable tour.
The alimentary canal is classic Mary Roach terrain: The questions explored in Gulp are as taboo, in their way, as the cadavers in Stiff and every bit as surreal as the universe of zero gravity explored in Packing for Mars. Why is crunchy food so appealing? Why is it so hard to find words for flavors and smells? Why doesn’t the stomach digest itself? How much can you eat before your stomach bursts? Can constipation kill you? Did it kill Elvis?
In Gulp we meet scientists who tackle the questions no one else thinks of - or has the courage to ask. We go on location to a pet-food taste-test lab, a fecal transplant, and into a live stomach to observe the fate of a meal. With Roach as our guide, we travel the world, meeting murderers and mad scientists, Eskimos and exorcists (who have occasionally administered holy water rectally), rabbis and terrorists - who, it turns out, for practical reasons do not conceal bombs in their digestive tracts. Like all of Roach’s books, Gulp is as much about human beings as it is about human bodies.
©2013 Mary Roach (P)2013 Tantor
Show More Show Less

Regular price: £29.59

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – choose any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • Free, unlimited access to Audio Shows
  • After your trial, Audible is just £7.99/month
Select or Add a new payment method

Buy Now with 1 Credit

By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Privacy Notice.

Buy Now for £29.59

Pay using card ending in
By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Privacy Notice.

By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Privacy Notice.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By L on 02-05-18


A fun little pop-sci book. However, we got a lot of the end and beginning, but not of the middle processes. I would have rather had three books for each topic, as none of them gave me anything but a brief overview.

Though, perhaps I was expecting too much. I'd just like something in between a textbook and a pop-sci book on these digestive processes, as they seem fascinating.

Still, it was entertaining and quick to read. I liked the narrator very much, who kept it lively throughout. I'm not sure I'll be reading more of Roach - I really liked Stiff, but all these other books of hers seem to encompass much larger subject matter, which, if they are anything like this one, will be rushed through.

Read more Hide me
See all reviews

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Mel on 05-04-13

Funtastic Voyage

If Mary Roach taught science, all the kids would earn A's. No, she's not a scientist, and this isn't research to reference on a term paper...but her humorous approach, irreverent wit, and ability to hunt down the most bizarre facts, combine to make any subject she tackles so entertaining and interesting you'll devour every word. One minute she is seriously discussing biology with academicians, the next she is telling the reader to blame those particularly malodorous *floaters* (flatulence) on the dog. Gulp is like her other one-syllable titled books (Stiff, Bonk, Spook), nothing is sacred, and nothing is off limits...including laughing while you learn. Like Isaac Asimov's Fantastic Voyage -- Gulp is a little like boarding a tour bus and being swallowed instead of injected into the human body; Roach is the tour guide/comedian that narrates the trip with an entertaining story, or bizarre fact at every stopping point on the way out. And there's only one way out of the alimentary canal...

Some of the subject matter was a tad gross--even more so than Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (which I thought was a little better), butt that is part of the tour. You won't want to listen around meal time, and her in-depth (npi) look at the *prison wallet* might have you skipping ahead. But, her trip to the dog food tasting facility, or her conversations with the bean tasters were hilarious. I would never had made it through the interviews, discussing controlled experimentation of flatulence, with a straight face. For all of us that were admonished at sometime for our *irreverent sense of humor* (Ms. B. from Biology and Principal L.)...this one's for you.

Read more Hide me

37 of 44 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Kirstin on 01-05-13

Mary Roach Does Not Disappoint!

If you could sum up Gulp in three words, what would they be?

Fascinating! Entertaining! Surprising!

What did you like best about this story?

I love Mary Roach's work. I have read all her books, but I have to say I was a little hesitant to read this one. I didn't know what to expect. Could the digestive system really be that interesting? Would I just be grossed out the whole time? I decided to jump in anyway. I was not disappointed. I think Mary Roach's genuine fascination with the world creates a contagious atmosphere of awe. Many time through out the book I found myself thinking "Wow! that is really interesting." Her style of writing also has a certain light hearted joy to it. Making you almost feel like you are there with her while she is sticking her whole arm into a cow. A spectator to a good friends adventures. I was also not grossed out at all. Well maybe a little bit during the saliva part, but in general I was not. I even ate lunch a few times while listening.

Have you listened to any of Emily Woo Zeller’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes and I love the way she narrates!

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

I found the most interesting part to be getting a larger perspective on what people believe about the body. Every age it seems has it's thing. Today it might be Gluten intolerance, but 100 years ago it might have been bosom snakes. Self diagnosis run amok no matter what period you live in. Also a perspective on what science and medicine had to say. It is really amazing to see things from a larger scale. It really puts todays beliefs in perspective.

Any additional comments?

I highly recommend reading this book if you like Mary Roach! You will really really enjoy it!

Read more Hide me

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

See all reviews