The Science of Sex – “Bonk” by Mary Roach
Ghosts, Dead bodies, Space – nothing is off limits for Ms. Roach.
Roach’s “Bonk” is a hyper-smart book about the scientists who work in the field most likely to elicit a red-faced whisper: sex research.
We’re a world with a weird relationship with sex – Though it fascinates us, it shames us. Roach understands this – and highlights the fact that our blushing at the very mention of sex have significantly held back research into sexual matters – particularly where women are concerned. For example, did you know that turn of the century doctors didn’t actually look at the vaginas of the women they were treating? Their training was done on cadavers, but when it came time for actual treatment, the doctor couldn’t gaze upon the body part he was treating.
Make no mistake, though the book obviously talks about some of the science of sex, it’s largely about the crazy things sex researchers have had to do in order to further their research – largely for fear of being dubbed a pervert or not getting funding for projects.
From an intriguing look into people who create sex machines, to the work of Alfred Kinsey, to ancient Chinese remedies for impotence (tiger penis, anyone?) “Bonk” doesn’t back down. When Roach visits a doctor noted for working on penis implants, she gets in on the action. She even convinces her husband to take part in some sexual research with her, which had me laughing out loud and re-reading the passage to my own husband.
Roach’s book about cadavers – “Stiff” – was easily one of the most fascinating books I’ve ever read. Literally, I couldn’t put it down. Her candor and intelligence, as well as her exemplary research and writing skills, put her on the list of authors who’s next work I’m excited for. (Her most recent book, “Packing for Mars,” was released in August and is on my short list of titles to tackle soon. It’s about space travelers, and I cannot wait.)
Mary Roach for the win.