Saturday, May 15, 2010

bonk by Mary Roach

The study of sexual physiology—what happens, and why, and how to make it happen better—has been going on for centuries, behind the closed doors of laboratories, brothels, Alfred Kinsey's attic, and, more recently, MRI centers, pig farms, and sex-toy R&D labs. I spent two years wheedling and conniving my way behind those doors to bring you the answers to the questions Dr. Ruth never asked. Is your penis three inches longer than you think? Is vaginal orgasm a myth? Can a dead man get an erection? Why doesn't Viagra help women—or, for that matter, pandas?

This was a roommate recommendation and while not one of my usuals, I'm really glad I gave it a try. I think with all the romances and erotica that I read I don't give a lot of thought to the inner workings between all that bumping and grinding. Roach on the other hand has gone out of her way to investigate not only the why of sex but the why of sex researchers. In my experience people don't really go around thinking about how doctors know the answers to sexual function questions. I certainly didn't, so reading this book was a big wake up call to that whole arena.

On the writing end I have to say that Roach has a very approachable style for what is basically a really long research paper. She doesn't use too many big words (where they're not necessary) and the dumb questions she asks people are usually the dumb questions I would ask. She's very witty and add into that some very funny footnotes (tangent city let me tell you) and you've got a collection of tales and personal stories that are a breeze to get through. I read bonk as I do anything else, something to be read straight through until you're finished, but it would also work well as a bedside table book, where you only read a few chapters before you go to bed.

And just to give you a clue, one of the very memorable things I learned from this book? Women chimpanzees are definitely getting the short end of the stick because while they can have orgasms they're only going to happen if there's a REALLY committed grad student around. A grad student with gloves. And lube.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. It's filled with all of this random but incredibly interesting information that I'm not sure if I ever wanted to know, but I think I benefit from knowing now.

Series - None, but you can check out more information about her other novels on her website, here.