Skip to main content

The Worst Book I Have Ever Read - Gulp: Travels Around the Gut by Mary Roach

TET and Mary Roach's Book, Gulp.
TET and Mary Roach's Book, Gulp.

I'm the kind of person who only reads one physical book at a time. For context I consider a 'book' to be anything over 100 pages of mostly text. Basically your typical work of fiction novel or factual biography.

It's not that I can't read more than one book at a time, I just choose not to because I don't set a lot of time aside for reading. Maybe 30 minutes a day when I'm on a good run with a really engaging text.

Little did I know that Mary Roach's Gulp: Travels Around the Gut*, a book of 317 pages (minus the Acknowledgments and Bibliography) would become a bottle neck for my reading for the next three and a half years. As such, I'm calling it the worst book I have ever read.

Despite how long it took me to read, it is not a bad book in the slightest, and is in fact, quite light, somewhat entertaining, reading for a book that explores the science, and the resilience of the human digestive system. 

I'm no stranger to reading science texts designed to make more consumable reading of difficult subjects like Quantum Theory. For a while, in my mid twenties, I went through a stretch of reading such books just to see if I was smart enough to not just get through them but to understand them as well.

The problem is, I was recommended this book by YouTuber, and self proclaimed shitty robots maker queen, Simone Giertz. She randomly recommended the book in one of her videos (that I can't find now) not for sponsorship reasons but just as a book she thought her viewers may find interesting. 

Though in looking for the video I discovered that Simone and Mary were once on the same bill for a speaking engagement back in 2016, Nerd Nite East Bay #43, which is likely how Simone came by Mary's next book after Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War.

Anyway, she said something along the lines of if you ever wanted to know the ins and outs of how the human digestive system works then Mary's book was just the ticket. As someone who's had a somewhat challenging relationship with my insides I thought it may give me some clues beyond my local GP's 'It's probably a virus' and 'I don't really know' insights.

Unfortunately the book was not what I was expecting at all. Sure, I expected some science on how the whole digestive system works, I just wasn't really prepared for an entire history (seemingly) on the study and science behind every part of the process of eating, digesting, and excreting.

That's what the book is. It doesn't really offer any solutions if you do have any digestive issues, though you may piece something together that may relate to what you're dealing with, from what you learn. 

Beyond that it's a start to finish account of how each part of our digestive system works, along with a tour through some of the most interesting and curious studies that have been done on various parts over the years, decades, maybe even centuries.

However, since it starts in the mouth, I was determined to take this journey to the very end... and it does end with shit... quite literally, as the final part of the system. It's literally a shitty ending. I thought I might learn something useful.

As it turns out, it's not a book I enjoyed reading even though it's not a difficult read, and humorous in places. Eventually I just petered out into not reading for quite some time. Picking the book up ever so occasionally to chip away at getting through it.

Finally I got to the point, just like the book, where a last ditch final push (yes that's a constipation metaphor), might just free me of the worst book I have ever read.

To be honest, I can't say I learned anything that I'll retain going forward. I've already forgotten most of the first half of the book while still reading it.

The only real revelations I got, that are likely to stick, is that Elvis didn't die of a drug overdose, and that we, as a species, are simply highly evolved food tubes with arms and legs.

If you're all about the science of the human body, this is probably the book for you. If you're wanting to shed light on some mystery stomach issues you are having that your doctor thinks is probably just indigestion, this is not the book for you... though it may steer you away from over the counter probiotics if you make it to the closing pages. 

Purchase Gulp: Travels Around the Gut from Amazon.

*Also known as 'Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal'


Buy Gifts and Apparel featuring art by TET.

Popular posts from this blog

How to Transfer Any Line Art to Your Griptape - Easy Skateboard Griptape Art Tutorial

Dog Star Griptape Art by TET Griptape art is once again gaining popularity amongst modern skateboarders. For those of us who have tried to create our own griptape art, using paint pens, you'll know reproducing your design onto the grip, without making any mistakes is incredibly challenging. Mostly because you just have to go for it and draw the design freehand, with paint pens, directly onto the griptape. You can make the odd mistake here or there but if you get the proportions of the design completely wrong, it can be very difficult to fix. Often you just have to live with the mistake. To address the problem I've come up with an easy way anyone can transfer a line art design to their griptape, removing almost all the anxiety of getting the proportions wrong. In fact, you could do this with any line art design, even if you have no drawing skill at all. Watch the video below to see my technique in action and/or skip past the video where I highlight the basic steps to get your de

Skateboard Trick Tips: Two Ways to Ollie North (Ollie One foot)

You have to be quick to see my Ollie Norths! Ollie One Foots, otherwise known as the Ollie North, is one of those skateboard tricks you learn and then tend not to do very much as more interesting trick challenges grab your attention. However it does look really cool if you learn how to kick your front foot well past the nose of your skateboard. Still shot from Braille Skateboarding's Ollie North tutorial. I was inspired to make my video below, showing two different techniques to achieve a successful Ollie One Foot, when I not only saw that Braille Skateboarding's Tutorial used a different method to the one I had learned but also, when I looked at various other video tutorials, I discovered yet another technique, with no one using the method I had originally learned. Braille's method is to simply Ollie and drag your front foot past the front of your board. The second method I came across in several video tutorials is to Ollie, drag your front foot and tap your

Are Ion Thrusters the Future of Flying Cars? Spoiler - Probably Not But... Hover Boards... Maybe?

Undefined Technologies Ion Propulsion Drone prototype 3D concept image. You may have heard of Ion engines or, more likely, Ion thrusters. NASA uses them on their spacecraft to help maintain a craft's position or to propel them through space.  Upon hearing that you might think they're big, powerful engines, but actually they are not. They work well in the vacuum of space but, once any kind of atmosphere and gravity is involved they'd be hard pressed to launch you off the ground if you strapped four of them to your lawn chair and yelled "up, up, and away!" I am no expert on Ion thrusters - they're basically magic that science has an explanation for. If you want to know the details, The Space Techie website has a layman's explanation .  Build Your Own Ion Thruster Earth based Ion Thrusters work a bit different to their  space based cousins by Ionizing the same air that we breathe to create thrust (an effect known as Ionic-wind ).  While they sound highly soph

I'm Joining the Illuminati Brotherhood By Personal Invitation of Hiltom Rothschild... Wait, What?

How special am I to have finally come of age (53 years young) and am now eligible to participate in building the world alongside other members of the Illuminati Brotherhood... Yes I've received the call by way of an email, which I'm sure is real because I had to translate it from the Dutch language and it was personally written by Hiltom Rothschild, one of the non-existent members of the Rothschild family (or perhaps deep undercover because Google has never heard of them?). A Transcript of the email below: To: etourist From: Illuminati Brotherhood  Subject: Illuminati Broederschap (Illuminati Brotherhood) I am Hiltom Rothschild, a member of the Rothschild family, one of the 13 families of the Illuminati brotherhood. I'm here to let you know that you've come of age and are eligible to participate in building the 🌎 world. It is a calling and a privilege to honor him with pride and gratitude as not everyone will ever be chosen by the LIGHT, many are called but few are ch

Book Review: Brand It Purple by Ashley Knoote-Parke

Ashley Knoote-Parke. Image: Facebook It seems almost redundant to review  Brand It Purple  given you probably won't find a hard copy edition without digging into the second hand market. The book's author and publisher, Ashley Knoote-Parke, seemingly, disappeared off the face of the Earth around about 2015. Which is a story in itself. However, the book is still a very informative guide and, while not specifically targeted at women, many may relate more to a book written by an experienced female entrepreneur. Brand It Purple is a personal marketing and branding guide released in 2009 by then, star on the rise author, Ashley Knoote-Parke, an English born, South African expatriate, who made Adelaide, South Australia her home. There she started her own publishing company releasing a photographic, coffee table book of South Australian sights, along with books showcasing female, then male, entrepreneurs. As well she published 'Brand It Purple'. I came across the b

Movie Review: Zack Snyder's Rebel Moon Parts 1 and 2 (2023/2024)

I f you've ever wanted to see quasi-early nineteen hundreds, Irish farmers fight off high tech space Nazis, in slow motion, over two feature length films then  Rebel Moon Part 1: A Child on Fire  (2023) and  Rebel Moon Part 2: The Scargiver  (2024) could well be the movies you're looking for. Plot-wise that's really all they're about. There's some sub story inspired by Akira Kurosawa's  Seven Samurai  (1954) movie, and some other subplot about our main character, Kora (Sofia Boutella), being 'the one' person the Space Nazi's must apprehend for 'reasons' (she's some kind of murderous deserter, I think, but that doesn't seem reason enough to me for our main bad guy, Atticus Noble (Ed Skrein), to be so obsessed with apprehending her).  I think I've come to the conclusion that writer/director Zack Snyder, while great at casting, spectacle, cinema photography, and visual effects, he just doesn't know how to tell a story to people w

Skateboarding @50+ Reigniting the Learn Kickflips Battle

My skate coach, Oscar dog. O ne of the things I'd like to do before I get too old to do much more than roll around on a skateboard is relearn kickflips. Not that I ever had them on lock. I maybe landed a flat ground stationary kickflip no more than a handful of times, and I only remember landing one rolling kickflip because I had it on video tape for a second (recording over it because I only had a few Video 8 cassette tapes back in the 90s). I actually had a higher chance of landing a kickflip into a trick, on a curb, than landing just a stationary kickflip. Kickflip to; 50-50, to blunt, backside kickflip to tail, and even kickflipping out of a blunt. None of which I had on lock nor can do currently. Getting back into skateboarding again, after a year's break to let my sore feet heal, I started to try kickflips again and discovered I'm actually closer than ever to landing them. I'm able to commit with both feet staying in the air as the board flips. As opposed to tryin