Pierce County Reads Ends On A High Note

Author Mary Roach appeared at Clover Park Technical College for a conversation about her book, Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War.

The book was the selection for the countywide reading program Pierce County Reads, presented by the Pierce County Library System.

Georgia Lomax, the library system’s executive director, said that more than 4,500 people checked out either an audiobook, e-book, or print copy of Grunt.

This is the tenth year for the reading program, and Lomax estimated that 160,000 have participated over the last decade.

Roach’s book is a deep look at military science. Roach often writes science-based books about oft-overlooked topics. Her first book, Stiff, dealt with human cadavers.

“I’m always curious about worlds I’ve never spent any time in,” Roach told KNKX host Ariel Van Cleave. Her presentation was a conversation with Van Cleave and also allowed time for questions from the audience. Roach also signed books.

Lomax described Roach as “someone who asks questions we don’t think to ask.”

For example, Grunt features a chapter all about diarrhea. Interestingly, it’s Roach’s favorite chapter.

“I love a topic that is kind of ‘tee hee’ or gross … to kind of pull people in,” she said. “You think it’s going to be a silly thing, and it kind of turns out to be something different.”

As you read in Grunt, gastrointestinal issues can be a big problem for the military and one you might not think about.

Roach said she feels a kinship with her readers, and tries to ask questions that they would have.

“I have the same kind of questions they might have,” she said. “We have a lot of common ground, my readers and I.”

Roach’s other books include Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers and Gulp: Adventures in the Alimentary Canal. Her books are available at the Pierce County Library, booksellers, and elsewhere.

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is a staff writer at South Sound magazine. Email her.
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