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Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex | [Mary Roach]

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex

The study of sexual physiology has been a paying career or a diverting sideline for scientists as far-ranging as Leonardo da Vinci and James Watson. The research has taken place behind the closed doors of laboratories, brothels, MRI centers, pig farms, sex-toy R&D labs, and Alfred Kinsey's attic.

Mary Roach, "The funniest science writer in the country", devoted the past two years to stepping behind those doors. In Bonk, Roach shows us how and why sexual arousal and orgasm can be so hard to achieve and what science is doing to slowly make the bedroom a more satisfying place.

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Publisher's Summary

The study of sexual physiology - what happens, and why, and how to make it happen better - has been a paying career or a diverting sideline for scientists as far-ranging as Leonardo da Vinci and James Watson. The research has taken place behind the closed doors of laboratories, brothels, MRI centers, pig farms, sex-toy R&D labs, and Alfred Kinsey's attic.

Mary Roach, "The funniest science writer in the country" (Burkhard Bilger of The New Yorker), devoted the past two years to stepping behind those doors. Can a person think herself to orgasm? Can a dead man get an erection? Is vaginal orgasm a myth? Why doesn't Viagra help women - or, for that matter, pandas? In Bonk, Roach shows us how and why sexual arousal and orgasm - two of the most complex, delightful, and amazing scientific phenomena on earth - can be so hard to achieve and what science is doing to slowly make the bedroom a more satisfying place.

©2008 Mary Roach; (P)2008 Brilliance Audio

What the Critics Say

"Narrator Sandra Burr's enjoyment of Roach's descriptions and wry comments is obvious, making this a pleasure to hear." (Library Journal)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Gurmukh London, ON, Canada 07-05-08
    Gurmukh London, ON, Canada 07-05-08 Member Since 2006
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    "Absolutely Wonderful!"

    Bonk is one of those rare books that is wonderfully new and different from anything else I've read in it's field.

    The author does not shy away from any related subject matter in her search for knowledge, even those that may make many people uncomfortable. As a result, this book is a treasure trove of information that few other people are comfortable even bringing up!

    And the frankness with which she does bring them up is tremendously refreshing. Who else have you ever heard talk about experiments in manipulating the genitals of chimpanzees to gauge their orgasms? What other sex documentary has ever gone into detail on the methods for arousing female pigs? (They're the only animal other than humans who enjoy having their nipples being manipulated, BTW.)

    I've never before heard such in-depth descriptions of the surgeries available for penis implants and the science behind them. She observes an actual surgery and apologizes for descriptions that will cause many men to cross their legs in discomfort. But to me the descriptions only enhanced the story.

    If you're at all uncomfortable reading anything I just wrote, this may not be the book for you. This book, instead, is for those of us who are curious enough about these amazing and fascinating aspects of science and biology that concerns of "ickiness" take a back seat to a thirst for knowledge.

    This book is a wonderful narrative of a journey through the world of sex research, including explorations of related side industries and events as part of a search for knowledge encompassing a wide variety of aspects of human sexuality.

    The people are portrayed as vividly as though you'd met them yourself, and every situation is narrated with frankness and wit. I very highly recommend this book to anybody looking for knowledge about sex that only a few are brave enough to tell you.

    40 of 40 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeremy St Paul, MN, USA 09-08-09
    Jeremy St Paul, MN, USA 09-08-09
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    "Bonkers"

    I always listen to audiobooks at 2x speed, this is convenient for how many books i read, and rarely a problem as most books are written to be as 'palatable' as possible ("filer" is probably too strong a word..) Then there's Mary Roach.. Her clever writing is so full of information and imagery that i'd listen at 1/2x if i had the time. Palatable? Yes. How? I don't know, but this is one of the most entertaining, intelligent and enjoyable books i've read.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jani Geneseo, NY, USA 05-13-09
    Jani Geneseo, NY, USA 05-13-09
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    "Interesting-not as engaging as "Stiff""

    Mary Roach certainly does her homework and the book covers in great detail the scientific (and not so scientific) explorations of sexuality. It starts a out bit slower than did "Stiff" and I found parts of it throughout read a bit slower as well. It is still worth the read (or listen). No matter what, you will come away knowing much more about the search and research behind orgasms, sexual theories and practice, and gender issues in general. I appreciate the interjection of humor throughout. This book is definitely not for the modest or frail (reading about humans masturbating monkeys and pigs had me sitting a bit on edge) but the author still comes away with a scientific view point and keeps focused on the major topics covered. For a biologist I did find it very informative and not in the least dry! Overall I would recommend it to anyone (except maybe those under the age of 15).

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    carl801 Madison, Alabama United States 06-30-08
    carl801 Madison, Alabama United States 06-30-08 Member Since 2004

    Old soldier

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Well written, entertaining, well read"

    I didn't read Mary Roach's book about corpses because, well, let's just say that once you've been exposed to it, death is not all that remarkable and certainly not interesting enough to read a book about cadavers. Sex, on the other hand, is always interesting. Even so, I didn't consider downloading this book until I saw an interview with Mary Roach on the tube. She struck me as a person who is endlessly curious about everything. That character trait appeals to me, so I decided to see what this book was about. What I found was well-researched and entertainingly written. Kudos as well to the reader, who managed to strike a fitting balance somewhere between clinical detachment and red-faced embarrassment.

    This is a great read, but Mary, if you're reading this, I really could have done without 30 minutes on Danish pig insemination! I'll never be able to get those images of farmers and pigs out of my head!

    24 of 27 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charger Salt Lake City, Utah, United States 07-05-12
    Charger Salt Lake City, Utah, United States 07-05-12 Member Since 2009

    Charger

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    "Educational & Extremely Entertaining"

    This book is a gem. Five stars all the way! Most other books on the topic are either dry and boring scientific talk or they are too crude and juvenile. This book is a perfect balance of education and entertainment. As someone who is medically trained, I still learned quite a bit from this book, but was entertained as I learned. The author uses appropriate and well-thought out humor that makes the read very enjoyable. The reader can, at one moment, be caught in a state of marvel with the science while at other times giggling uncontrollably from the author's own humanness and wit.

    I think this book is for everyone, young and old. I would even go as far as to recommend it to high school students who want to know more than the standard "birds and bees" talk in sex ed class. It's entertaining enough to keep young folks engaged, yet scholarly enough to be considered a good supplementary textbook. I think back at the boring pamphlets and other materials I got when I went through sex ed as a young adult. I can't imagine how fun class would have been if I would have had this book as additional reading, or even to read on my own since the information I got back then was so abbreviated and boring. Of course this isn't meant as a primary text for sex ed, it would make an excellent complimentary text for those who want to dive a little deeper and laugh while learning.

    I read/listened to the audio book version and would recommend the audio version over the text because the narrator does such an excellent job in timing the humor so perfectly and even doing some voice characterization.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Grant NANTUCKET, MA, United States 08-03-12
    Grant NANTUCKET, MA, United States 08-03-12 Member Since 2008

    caffeinated

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    "Ow. Ow. Ow."

    Okay, this is a really entertaining book. But the parts where Roach talks about ED and its treatments, plus a few other parts, made me feel, as the owner of a penis, rather uncomfortable. Aside from that, it's a thoroughly enjoyable and insightful work.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Schurmann Atlanta, GA 11-05-12
    M. Schurmann Atlanta, GA 11-05-12

    markazon

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    "Disappointed in my First Mary Roach Book"
    What disappointed you about Bonk?

    This was my first Mary Roach book. I've seen her interviewed and really thought I would enjoy her work. I choose this book because I thought it would be the most provocative of her subjects. Unfortunately, as vast and as strange as human sexuality is, I found her choices of topic to be rather uninteresting.More troubling was the reader. This is supposed to be a humorous book. I would have much rather heard the author read it, as the Sandar Burr has no sense of comic delivery.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Something fictional.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Sandra Burr’s performances?

    No


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointment


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LaDin Terminal Island 07-23-12
    LaDin Terminal Island 07-23-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Annoying"
    Any additional comments?

    Enjoyed Stiff and loved Packing for Mars... but found this book tiresome to listen to and I almost gave up. In retrospect I should have. Oddly, the only chapter in Packing for Mars that I did not enjoy was the one about sex. Roach's style of writing - with all her asides and tangents – did not work with this material. I can't quite put my finger on it but her humor regarding sex was not funny for me, was too adolescent, and became incredibly tiresome. The information about sex was mostly interesting... but the information (mostly gossip) about the sex lives of the sex researchers was almost distasteful. If you liked the style of Packing for Mars you should try At Home by Bill Bryson (not about sex but delightful to listen to) and skip Bonk .

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katy Crumpton 04-05-10 Member Since 2010
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    "Delightful find"

    This book is not about improving your sex life or having more sex. It is just a fun look at sex research and the people who do the research. There is a lot of seriously strange research and equally (or more) strange researchers. The book was witty and fascinating. The narrator delivered the perfect tone and really increased my enjoyment.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M3 Monterey, CA 05-18-12
    M3 Monterey, CA 05-18-12
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    "Curiosity makes for a good read (listen)"

    Mary Roach demonstrates a curiosity for all things unusual, and her investigations in "Bonk" are both candid and amusing. Although the book wanders a bit, Roach's self-deprecating style and great sense of humor keep the reading light, and her questions are consistent with those anyone might ask about how a scientist investigates "the act"...albeit with a red face.

    In Mythbuster's style, Roach's self-guided inquiries into how sex and research meet are only slightly scientific, but almost always thoroughly amusing. Be prepared for candid discussions that may not be well-received in car full of kids (or neighbors).

    Although one can't answer specific questions by using "Bonk" as a reference, the book does answer a great many questions that may have never been asked ....in the first place.

    Well written and easy to read (hear).

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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