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Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex Hardcover – March 17, 2008
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
Roach is not like other science writers. She doesn't write about genes or black holes or Schrödinger's cat. Instead, she ventures out to the fringes of science, where the oddballs ponder how cadavers decay (in her debut, Stiff) and whether you can weigh a person's soul (in Spook). Now she explores the sexiest subject of all: sex, and such questions as, what is an orgasm? How is it possible for paraplegics to have them? What does woman want, and can a man give it to her if her clitoris is too far from her vagina? At times the narrative feels insubstantial and digressive (how much do you need to know about inseminating sows?), but Roach's ever-present eye and ear for the absurd and her loopy sense of humor make her a delectable guide through this unesteemed scientific outback. The payoff comes with subjects like female orgasm (yes, it's complicated), and characters like Ahmed Shafik, who defies Cairo's religious repressiveness to conduct his sex research. Roach's forays offer fascinating evidence of the full range of human weirdness, the nonsense that has often passed for medical science and, more poignantly, the extreme lengths to which people will go to find sexual satisfaction. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* The New Yorker dubbed Roach “the funniest science writer in the country.” OK, maybe there’s not a lot of competition. But even if there were thousands of science-humor writers, she would be the sidesplitting favorite. Of course, she chooses good subjects: cadavers in Stiff (2003), ghosts in Spook (2005), and now a genuinely fertile topic in Bonk. As Roach points out, scientists studying sex are often treated with disdain, as though there is something inherently suspicious about the enterprise. Yet through understanding the anatomy, physiology, and psychology of sexual response, scientists can help us toward greater marital and nonmarital happiness. Such altruistic intentions, which the book shares, aren’t the wellspring of its appeal, however. That lies in the breezy tone in which Roach describes erectile dysfunction among polygamists, penis cameras, relative organ sizes and enhancement devices, and dozens of other titillating subjects. Not to be missed: the martial art of yin diao gung (“genitals hanging kung fu”), monkey sex athletes, and the licensing of porn stars’ genitals for blow-up reproductions. To stay on the ethical side of human-subjects experimentation, Roach offers herself as research subject several times, resulting in some of her best writing. --Patricia Monaghan
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I've read several of Roach's books, including my favorite, "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers" and she is a author that I can always count on to churn our a great read. Although published in 2008, "Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex", just made it way to my TBR list. I actually purchased it on my Kindle following a death in the family, because I knew that Roach's unique mix of humor and education would provide a good distraction during a tough time. It worked.
In Bonk, Roach explores various facets of sex research. Although Kinsey, Masters and Johnson are all key players, Roach goes beyond the usual suspects to bring a broader range to the topic, including current research being conducted around the world. Sex research can be a difficult arena in which to find willing participants and Roach often finds herself (and her husband) getting directly involved. It's proper research and her husband got a free trip to Europe!
As with her other books, there are many shocking tid-bits and facts. It's one of those reads where you find yourself constantly wanting to read aloud sections of the book to whomever is in close proximity, because it's too good not to share.
In particular, I found the sections on the penis transplants to be particularly fascinating and often grotesque. Some of the sex toys and aids on the market that Roach details are quite bizarre and funny. She, without a hint of embarrassment, gets to the bottom of certain obscure patents and their creators. I'm quite certain that she had trouble keeping a straight face during some of the conversations, especially with the devices that don't have sound scientific backing.
This is book has great sections for those interested in animal behaviorism, specifically primatology.
Honestly, this probably would not be a good pick for someone who is sensitive or shy about discussing sex. It's graphic. Roach isn't trying to go for shock value, but she does explain things in a frank manner. I appreciate her approach and found much of this book to be very interesting. I highly recommend Bonk and Roach's other books.
Please visit my blog for more reviews and thoughts.
Bonk is all about the science of sex. It's not a pornographic book or a how-to. This is about what goes on in our bodies during sex, both men and women. It's also about orgasms and impotence and transplants among other subjects.
Roach e-mails, visits, and participates with researchers across the globe about sex. How is sex studied and who studies it? What is there to learn still, especially with regard to those who are unable to have sex (mentally or physically) like typical adults?
Roach has a very straight forward and humorous writing style that I thoroughly enjoy. She not only gives the reader the information she learns (ultimately the take home message - the interesting information without bogging down the reader with too many stats and names and details) but she also gives little footnotes of extra information which are usually quite funny. Sometimes they're related to what she's talking about, sometimes they're other bits of information she looked up in the same text that I think, "If I had that text in front of me, I'd look that up too!"
I love this book and all of Roach's writing. I can't wait to read her next project.