Monday, May 16, 2011

Bonk, By Mary Roach

This book is subtitled "The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex". Which sums up Mary Roach's combination of humor and academic rigor. This book will tell you every single thing you never wanted to know about sex, in shuddering detail. I found myself physically cringing an awful lot while reading this book, but I had a hard time putting it down. It's not surprising that researchers want to understand the mechanics of sex more thoroughly, but some of their experiments verge on the masochistic.

Mary Roach is a very funny woman, which is one reason that I, an avowed avoider of nonfiction, read all of her books. She also has a talent for exploring subjects that are a little uncomfortable (see Stiff). I really admire her willingness to climb out from behind her stack of books to experience the ickier side of science. In the case of this book, she, and at times her apparently very understanding husband, participated in several of the studies she describes. That is dedication I admire.

The author herself notes that sex is not a subject that can be understood without taking into account the emotional side of the equation. Most of the studies she uncovers are, however, all about mechanics. It makes sense, of course, that scientists are interested in pure data. And I can imagine that funding proposals for sex research have to be carefully written. It is true that this kind of scientific pursuit has led to breakthroughs in both medicine and technology, but I still maintain that there is a little bit of magic at work in really good sex, and all the studies in the world aren't going to make either a pill or a device that can deliver it.


  1. So true! I was cringing but still enjoyed Bonk too, glad I'm not the only one!!

  2. The fact that it's a little bit uncomfortable is part of what makes it wonderful. Thanks for your comment.