I like to talk about poop a lot - I mean a lot. The kind of 'a lot' that means that there is always a 65% chance of me bringing up the fluctuating health of my bowel cycle at dinner, even though I might have promised to refrain because a friend's invited their new partner to dinner and apparently it isn't 'normal' to talk about poop so openly, or frequently (read: this is the first decent person I've dated in such a long time and god so help me if my slightly unhinghed friend ruins it all with her with weird poop talk). So it makes sense that when I stumbled across this book on an old episode of the Books On A Nightstand Podcast, the title alone was enough to pique my interest.
Don't get me wrong, Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated Organ is not a toilet book. Gut is an engaging introduction to a fascinating topic written with all the enthusiasm needed to not make a scientific book drag. Popular science puts the brain on a pedalstool (haha, sorry. Couldn't resist), but how many of us have stopped to consider the wonder of our gut?
How is it that an apple is transformed into the essential blocks of life, and then some more? How are some of us still able to digest milk as adults (I am, to my regret, not one of these freakish, amazing mutants and must always weigh up the glory of dairy against the inevitable bloat. The bloat usually wins), even though every other animal becomes lactose intolerant once they stop weaning? Why is it that our body seems bent on embarrassing us by making us throw up at the most inopportune moments? The gut is responsible for all this, and much more.
The writing style, narrative tone and lovely illustrations scattered throughout the book provided the perfect envirnoment for a kind of escapism I usually only find in fiction books. If you're stuck in a non-fiction rut and looking for some inspiration, this is definitely one to give a go.
Rating - 4/5
PS: The original German title can be translated as 'Charming Bowels', which I think is rather sweet.