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Adventures on the Alimentary Canal


Eating is the most pleasurable, gross, necessary, unspeakable biological process we undertake. But very few of us realise what strange wet miracles of science operate inside us after every meal – let alone have pondered the results (of the research). How have physicists made crisps crispier? What do laundry detergent and saliva have in common? Was self-styled ‘nutritional economist’ Horace Fletcher right to persuade millions of people that chewing a bite of shallot seven hundred times would yield double the vitamins?

In her trademark, laugh-out-loud style, Mary Roach breaks bread with spit connoisseurs, beer and pet-food tasters, stomach slugs, potato crisp engineers, enema exorcists, rectum-examining prison guards, competitive hot dog eaters, Elvis' doctor, and many more as she investigates the beginning, and the end, of our food.

Mary Roach is the bestselling author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Six Feet Over: Adventures in the Afterlife, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, and Packing for Mars (978-1-85168-823-4). She has written for the Guardian, Wired, BBC Focus, GQ, and Vogue, among many others.

  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (April 1, 2013)
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781780742199

‘The funniest book [of the year] by far... almost every page made me laugh out loud.’

– Sunday Times, Best Science Books of 2013

‘Witty, illuminating and at times astonishing.’

– Mail on Sunday

‘Witty [and] enjoyable’

– Independent on Sunday

‘The best kind of lavatory reading… exhaustive and irreverent’

– Sunday Telegraph, paperback review

‘Mary Roach is a science writer who looks very closely at normal things — and close up, lots of things look weird or horrifying… The bit you will talk about most is how prisoners hide things up their bottoms’

– Evening Standard

'Far away her funniest and most sparkling book'

– New York Times

‘Engrossingly gross’

– Scotsman

'The best kind of lavatory reading'

– Sunday Telegraph

'Insightful, sharp science writing that will have you snorting with laughter is Mary Roach's speciality'

– New Scientist

‘Disgustingly good... Roach takes a superbly witty prod at our innards.’

– The Times

'Roach writes clearly, with gallows humour...compelling'

– Evening Standard

'A wonderful read'

– BBC Focus

'Joyously funny and intrepidly smart'

– Saga

More books from this author: Mary Roach