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Bonk by Mary Roach

By Genny (also Rusty) | Books | May 5, 2009 |

By Genny (also Rusty) | Books | May 5, 2009 |

Bonk by Mary Roach is quick, fun, and dirty, much like the subject matter it discusses. A thorough examination of the research done on human sexuality that exposes the gaps but also discusses how much further along the research is now than it was just a couple decades ago, it’s packed full of information. However, Roach’s engaging writing style helps the pages move along well.

That doesn’t mean that all of it is easy to read, however. There are sections of the book that made me want to cross my legs in sympathetic agony or where I had to put the book down and take a few deep breaths, and I don’t even have a penis. Be warned, Mary doesn’t shy away from any piece of information or statistic that might be relevant, which includes inter-urethral masturbation methods, surgery to move the clitoris closer to the vaginal opening, efforts at transplanting testicles to improve vitality, and exactly how sex researchers complied their data which does not always seem friendly. In spite of this, overall the book is incredibly well researched and well presented and even down right funny in parts.

Roach covers a lot of ground familiar to anyone who’s taken a few basic psychology classes (Kinsey gets plenty of mentions) but also discusses a lot of studies and doctors on the fringe of “acceptable” research or procedures and talks about their work. One of the more interesting sections of the book is about people with spinal cord injuries and how they are able to achieve orgasm even though it would seem that those nerve impulses have no way of reaching the brain.

If you’ve got a bit of a strong stomach and a healthy dose of innate curiosity (because Roach is a huge fan of the footnote, which occasionally provides more information but more often just diverges into a different area of research that’s related but not necessarily needed) Bonk is a good read and I encourage anyone who wants to know more about why their body functions the way it does, sexually, to pick it up.

See also: The Boozehound’s interview with Mary Roach.

Check here for more of Genny’s reviews.

And hey! Look: Genny (also Rusty) with Neil Gaiman. Jealous?


Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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