So, 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.

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.

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

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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