Mary Roach is fascinated by the science of eating, and by the end of Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, you will be, too. At least if you have a strong stomach. Gulp is a non-fiction account of the nitty-gritty aspects of taste, eating, and digestion, and how these functions affect our daily lives. Roach travels the world, speaking with experts in everything from saliva to methane. She covers wide-ranging issues, from why our pets taste food differently than we do, to how stomach acid works to the role that digestion has played in civilization.
Most writers would not be able to handle the high gross-out factor with this subject matter, but Mary Roach approaches it with a sense of levity that makes its discussion downright charming. She is also quite skilled at making science accessible for the layperson. While she does not skimp on concepts, she does a great job of making them intriguing to those of us have forgotten most of high school biology.
Three others to try: A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson; Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, by David Sedaris; Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon’s Army & Other Diabolical Insects, by Amy Stewart