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Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex Paperback – Illustrated, April 6, 2009
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― San Francisco Chronicle
"[Mary Roach] is a bold, tenacious, and insatiable reporter. . . . A greatly satisfying romp."
― New York Times Book Review
"Roll over, Kinsey. Mary Roach has done it again.... Bonk proves that full-bodied research can be riveting."
― O, The The Oprah Magazine
"Roach is a fearless and witty reporter."
― Wall Street Journal
"[An] account that is at once revealing―alarmingly so―and very very funny. She studs (forgive me) her journey with a multitude of knee-crossing bits of fact that will enliven bedtime conversation everywhere."
― Erik Larson, author of Devil in the White City
About the Author
- Publisher : W. W. Norton & Company; Illustrated edition (April 6, 2009)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0393334791
- ISBN-13 : 978-0393334791
- Item Weight : 8.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #32,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Roach presents a wide variety of studies from famous early scholars like Kinsey and Masters & Johnson to obscure present-day scientists like the Egyptian researcher who has to find prostitutes to have intercourse with inflated condoms in order to study nerve reflexes in the female nether regions. Sometimes, the research involves animals, as in the case of researchers trying to determine whether the female orgasm draws semen up further toward the fallopian tubes by studying pigs, or studies of mating rituals of monkeys and how they compare and contrast to those of humans. Though most often the studies are human-centric and ask questions such as: why do a few women orgasm with excessive (and, unfortunately, embarrassing) ease, while too many others have difficulty achieving that result at all? And, why aren’t sex toys better designed to achieve their objective?
I give Roach bonus points on a couple grounds. First, there is the plentiful combination of humor and fun facts that make the book extremely readable. Second, Roach takes some personal risk when, for example, taking part in an imaging study with her husband that involved intimacy in an MRI. That is not even to mention the many things she must have seen that she can never unsee on her global tour that took her to places like Taiwan and Egypt as well as to conventions and research parks across the US.
It should be pointed out that there are important and serious topics being addressed by the science in the book, issues like: erectile dysfunction, sexual dissatisfaction (and its adverse effects upon relationships), and fertility difficulties. So, it’s not all jokes and quirky facts. Solutions to problems (surgical, pharmaceutical, and even psychological) are discussed, though there is a lot of basic science to consider as well. (For the less scientifically-oriented, basic science is that which doesn’t have a specific objective, but is rather to enhance understanding so that further down the road economically and practically viable solutions can be achieved. The lack of specific objective means this type of science can be particularly tricky to get funded. It also makes for some of the more amusing anecdotes because – unlike painful issues of persistent genital arousal disorder or erectile dysfunction – its easier to form jokes about penis cameras and romancing a sow.)
The book consists of fifteen chapters. As is common in Roach’s book, there’s not an obvious organizational schema – except the first chapter which is a bit more general and the last which answers the old question, “who has more fun, and why?” [except the answer isn’t “blondes or redheads” but rather heterosexual or homosexual couples.] That said, there is a grouping of male genitalia (ch. 6-8) versus female genitalia (ch. 9-12) studies. There are some photos (not particularly graphic) as well as endnotes and references.
I found this book to be fascinating and highly readable, and would recommend it for anyone with an interest in anatomy and physiology, or in sex for that matter.
• Why is there such historical resistance to sex researchers? ("Their lives are not easy. But their cocktail parties are the best.")
• Why do some people with spinal cord injuries get aroused only by genital stimulation? Why are others aroused only by viewing erotic films? Why are others unable to generate any sexual response at all? (It has to do with the location of the injury on the spine and the direction the electrical signals are traveling over the nervous system.)
• The man who has an orgasm every time he has a bowel movement ("He enjoyed his toilet")
• Do animals have orgasms? (The answer is often yes. Female chimpanzees can have an orgasm in only ten seconds, but unfortunately most male chimps climax in seven seconds or less.)
• The testicle grafting craze of the 1920's.
• Do short women have more orgasms than tall women? (Some research suggests the distance between vagina and clitoris, which is generally proportionate to height, may impact frequency of orgasms.)
• The French impotency trials of the 17th century.
• Some off-the-wall sex toys (includes the author's personal assessment of their effectiveness)
• Is there any correlation between the female orgasm and fertility?
• Has science proven gay couples have better sex than straight couples?
• Are women more turned on by porn than men? (Surprisingly, women have faster biological arousal responses to porn, but whether they are "turned on" is still a matter for debate. These physical responses register whether or not the women are watching images they might deem pleasurable. For example, images of animals copulating will affect a woman's physical sexual response even though she would presumably not be attracted to having sex with an animal herself.)
• Are rape fantasies more common in men or women?
Top reviews from other countries
The book is a fascinating one, absorbing and.. errr stimulating. Actually, that was a harmless pun, nothing here can really be described as, in any way, "titillating". Indeed it is astonishing just how straight faced were the scientists described in the book. Interestingly, Roach even took the opportunity to participate in a couple of scientific scenarios and the book is quite rightly dedicated to her long suffering husband.
Roach is not so straight faced herself and she injects a fair dose of her own humour into the account. While it adds to the enjoyment of the book, I did feel it went a little too far in places. Nevertheless, she doesn't lose sight of the serious aspect of the subject and she never steps beyond the boundaries of good taste.
This is a great read although you might want to steer clear if you are particularly prudish.
Well researched itself, the author delves without embarrassment into the strange, sometimes devious and single minded focus of the famous, the infamous and some of the lesser known researchers into the physical and mental problems of sex and its enjoyment.
Along the way you'll discover a lot of 'facts' you either didn't know or have heard secondhand. You'll learn the truth about some of the real problems sex researchers have faced in their search for the 'truth' about orgasm and why we will do, almost, anything to get to it. You'll discover things about sex enhancement 'tools' that will surprise you as much as they shocked the author. In all your eyes will be opened to details of human sexuality that you would never have imagined.
You'll also find summations of areas of conflicting research which will confound some myths. For example does the fabled G spot really exist, and what have sex researchers done to find it? By putting the salient points of the variety of sex research into one book the author gives you a clearer understanding of what really makes us 'tick' sexually.
This is more than just a book about sex research. You'll learn a lot about the human sex drive (and animal too) and how, why and what turns people on. You'll come out of it better educated about sex and all its ramifications. You might even learn something about yourself and your partner. It may even encourage you to explore areas of sexual behaviour that you might not have considered.
If you're considering the Kindle edition, which I read, you might like to note that the chapter illustrations appear before the footnotes of the previous chapter. Also the footnotes are poorly formatted and run into one another. Capitalisation is also poor throughout the book, as is the text formatting. This didn't stop it being a good read, however!
Yes, it's hilarious, but serious too.
A world not talked about much, really. So when it's talked about with irreverent seriousness it's beautiful.
One of the best books I have encountered so far.