In my defense, part of this is because I started doing NetGalley and I try to review those as soon as I finish them rather than going in order of when I've finished reading the books, so that pushes the books I'm reading on my own back.
ANYWAY, the good news is that I found the book and it's Mary Roach's Gulp so even though this isn't going to be the most well-thought-review* it's Roach and she's great. So, here we go.
This time Roach takes the reader through the alimentary canal, starting at the top and working her way down. There's the normal stuff you'd expect from a book on the digestive system, such as the role smell plays in taste, how the teeth and stomach do their thing to turn the food you eat into the calories you need. But then there's the off-the-beaten-path stuff that makes her so much fun. There are chapters such as: "Big Gulp: How to survive being swallowed alive", "The Longest Meal: Can thorough chewing lower the national debt", and "Up Theirs: The alimentary canal as criminal accomplice". Truly something for everyone.
And of course a big thing in Roach's work is talking to the scientists that are obsessed with their particular line of study. No one can wax poetic about the benefits of salvia quite like Erika Silletti, or can tell you ALL the nuances to chewing like Andries van der Bilt or the dozens of other scientists that make it their business to understand all their is to know about the taste buds, the stomach, the colon, etc.
She delves into some of the scientific history of how we know what we know about digestion, which includes some disturbing relationships, such as that of William Beaumont and Alexis St. Martin and involves one man dropping food into the other man's stomach via a hole in his side (think of it as fishing) to see how stomach acid does its thing.
Depending on your squick factor, there can be some stuff here's that's too gross. I don't think she goes overboard or dwells on anything for too long, and some of the stuff can be gross, but she seems to delight in this grossness which makes it a lot easier to swallow.
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**Other titles of hers I've liked: Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, and Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
Title quote from page 326
Roach, Mary. Gulp: Adventures On The Alimentary Canal. W.W. Norton & Company, 2013.