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

My friend Pat got this book a few years ago as a sort of graduation present from our physics department faculty (I got World Without End, which I have yet to crack open), which caused a lot of snickering amongst all present, because no matter how old you are, you are twelve when it comes to sex. This is a fact.

I have no idea if he read it or how he liked it, but the fact that I remember him getting it, coupled with the existence on the internets of a general love for Mary Roach, convinced me it would be an excellent companion for my 10.5+ hour solo road trip up to Virginia this past weekend. I was absolutely not disappointed.

To start off, Roach’s writing style is lovely. She knows her stuff, and often how ridiculous her stuff is, and she puts it across in a very conversational style with tangents and footnotes and pauses to think about what she’s just written galore. And the narrator of this book, who I believe I’ve heard on another book at some point, picks up that conversational quality quite easily — oftentimes you can hear her smiling or grimacing or making that face you make when something absolutely mortifies you to even think about. I don’t even know what it’s called, but I heard it!

Then, of course, there’s the subject matter. I have to admit that while I was listening I wasn’t sure I would retain a lot of the facts, what with the driving and paying attention to the road and whatnot, but after I was done I was easily able to relay to my husband the pertinent info. Like that there are men who masturbate by putting things up their urethras (ouch?). Or that Marie Bonaparte (related to that one Bonaparte guy) had her clitoris surgically moved closer to her vagina in an attempt to make her sex better (OUCH, and also EUCCHH). Oh, and that if you get your dog neutered, you can get him prosthetic testicles to make him feel better about himself (eh?). And so much more.

What I think I loved about this book most was that unlike certain other non-fiction books I’ve listened to, Bonk doesn’t have an agenda other than entertaining you and providing you with endless trivia to share at family gatherings. Some bits seemed to drag on a little longer than strictly necessary, but I never felt like Roach was trying to beat one concept or another into my head.

Recommendation: This is for, you know, people who are interested in sex. I would probably not give this to teenagers, lest they get ideas that they didn’t already have. Like that urethra thing. :shudder:

Rating: 9/10
(A to Z Challenge)

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