Sexology from A to Z, and it’s hilarious

sexologySo, Mary Roach is a very funny person. There may be no other writer on the planet, including Woody Allen, who could delve so deeply into sexology— the mechanics, the chemistry, and the psychology of sex—while managing to unleash laughter out loud on just about every other page. The woman is a marvel.


Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach

@@@@ (4 out of 5)


Like Roach’s three other widely-admired books of popular science—Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, and Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void—Bonk is thoroughly researched and full of insight. However, as you can tell from the titles, she picks her subjects with a twinkle in her eye. Sexology, like sex, can be a lot of fun. It’s hard to imagine a more skillful way to reimmerse jaded, well-read adults in science—for the first time since our teens, in so many cases.

Consider, for example, some of Roach’s chapter titles:

  • “Remember Me Transplants, Implants, and Other Penises of Last Resort”
  • “The Prescription-Strength Vibrator: Masturbating for Health”
  • “Sexual Intercourse as a Potential Treatment for Intractable Hiccups”

I defy any reader to point to three chapter-headings in any other book that are more provocative than those!

Wondering about that case of hiccups? Here’s Roach explaining the matter. “Followers of sixteenth-century naturalist Li Shih-Chen [used] sun-dried, powdered wolf epiglottis. Li’s hiccup remedy, found in the Chinese Materia Medica, is probably quite effective, for in the time it takes to track and wolf and sun-dry its epiglottis, even the most stubborn case of hiccups will invariably have passed.”

And here’s Roach on the difference between males and females: “I give you a sentence, my favorite sentence in the entire oeuvre of Alfred Kinsey, from Sexual Behavior in the Human Female: ‘Cheese crumbs spread in front of a copulating pair of rats may distract the female, but not the male.'”

Is there anything more to be said?

For further reading

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A funny book reveals more than you ever wanted to know about digestion and its byproducts | Mal Warwick's Blog on Books - 7 years ago

[…] Gulp is Mary Roach’s sixth book-length study. The first was Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers a decade ago. Then two years later came  Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, and Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex three years after that. Her most recent book before Gulp was Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void in 2010. My review of Packing for Mars is here, and the one for Bonk is here. […]

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