Qualities of Life: The Guy Page
Bathroom humor with a serious side

Leslie Goldman

Published June 10, 2007

For the dad who appreciates bathroom humor (and really, what dad doesn't?), there's a fresh compendium of flushable facts destined to become the new little brown book. It's called "What's Your Poo Telling You?" by Josh Richman and Dr. Anish Sheth (Chronicle, $9.95). With lines such as, "Like a snowflake, each poo has a wonderful uniqueness -- but what does it mean?" it's an easy tongue-in-chic Father's Day gift.

Richman and Sheth take readers on an illustrated romp through this strange world, exploring "Pebble Poo," which actually reflects a lack of stool cohesion and means you need more fiber; the "Deja Poo," which makes one wonder, "Haven't I seen that somewhere before?" and much more.

Richman, 32, from San Francisco, said the idea formed when he mentioned his interests to friends and relatives. Very quickly, he explained, "I realized that I wasn't alone in my desire to learn more about what's in the bowl." When Richman reconnected with Sheth, an old college friend and now a gastroenterology fellow at the Yale University School of Medicine, the concept gained momentum. The book came out June 1.

Readers with a strong stomach will be treated to an assortment of classifications, definitions, synonyms, medical explanations, case histories and other surprisingly interesting bits. (Who knew South Asians excrete nearly three times as much as the Brits? Tip: It's mainly due to the high fiber content of the average Indian diet.)

Lest you think the book is in poor taste as a gift, Richman insists it can be both educational and freeing. "Whenever I mentioned this book to my friends, family or work colleagues, they all seemed liberated to suddenly be able to talk about poo," he said. "I was surprised to see how this book suddenly transferred the act ... from being an undesirable inevitability of everyday life into being something that people could freely and openly discuss with me."

As a reader, the next time your doctor asks about your stool habits, you'll be able to reply boldly with stunning detail. And ultimately, it's a serious subject.

Besides doing his part to debunk the social stigma surrounding gastrointestinal health, Richman also has discovered something about himself in the process: "I need to eat more fiber."



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