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Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex
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Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex

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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  28,627 ratings  ·  3,189 reviews
The study of sexual physiology - what happens, and why, and how to make it happen better - has been a paying career or a diverting sideline for scientists as far-ranging as Leonardo da Vinci and James Watson. The research has taken place behind the closed doors of laboratories, brothels, MRI centers, pig farms, sex-toy R&D labs, and Alfred Kinsey's attic.

Mary Roach, "t...more
Hardcover, 319 pages
Published March 17th 2008 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published January 1st 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Manny
(Joint review with JORDAN, who's actually finished the book)

- George?

- Mmm?

- Don't go to sleep.

- Mmm.

- You are going to sleep!

- Mm-mm.

- George, tell me something you did today.

- Um... I read a book.

- That's better! Move around a bit. Yes, that's right, put your hand there. Good. What book?

- Bonk. By Mary Roach.

- That silly book about sex?

- It's not silly! She's really got a lot of interesting things to say!

- Like?

- Ah... I liked the bit about women's orgasms.

- Guess you don't know much about tha...more
Trevor
Nov 11, 2008 Trevor rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Trevor by: Ginnie and Mindy
I’ve never had internet sex – there must be another word for it, cybersex, obviously, but I’m thinking more along the lines of keyboard sex. All the same, a couple of years ago (and purely as a community service, you understand) I started working on a series of words that could be typed using only the left hand. It was another of those projects that I started and fairly quickly lost interest in.

If this book is about anything I think it would be fair to say that it is about the absurdity of sex....more
jess
Jul 24, 2008 jess rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2008
i audiobook'd this, the third feature-length scientific expedition of mary roach. i love! love! love! mary roach. i have bought multiple copies of her first book, stiff, and have managed to permanently "lend" every one of them out. audiobooking the curious couplings of science and sex, however, was a very strange experience. picture this: i am walking around downtown pittsburgh, just like every morning, and there are strangers passing me left and right with serious or sleepy looks, briefcases an...more
Michael
This book review has received a strong 'R' rating for disturbing sexual content. If you are eating, you might not wanna read this review right now.

DON'T go into this book thinking it'll get you in the mood. In fact, it may disturb the mood right out of you.

Did you know? Before Viagra, guys who couldn't maintain a good stiffy would often have "stilts" of some sort inserted inside of their penis skin, and they would essentially wander through life with a half-boner that never went away so they co...more
rachel
One of my favorite parts in Fifty Shades of Grey -- by which I mean, one of the parts that gave me the greatest WTF glee -- is the part where Ana, still a virgin, is watching Christian Grey become aroused and is wondering how it's going to fit, and he says to her, "Don't worry. You expand too."

My first reaction: Sexay! My second reaction: sadness for the fact that for whatever reason, there are other girls and women who also lack the knowledge of basic sexual biology because, as I lamented in my...more
Michael
First she did death and now she does sex. Bonk is a perfect successor to the tour-de-force of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. She is brilliant in her ability to present to the average readers the triumphs and the twisted in the progression of scientific and medical approaches to these subjects. Roach represents a veritable cross between the styles of Malcolm Gladwell and Bill Bryson.

I learned a lot, I laughed a lot. The latter helps with the squeamish and embarrassing bits. For exam...more
Geoff
Jun 20, 2008 Geoff rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Only Hardcore Reserach Nuts
I really wanted to like Bonk. Mary Roach seems joyous in her celebration of the science of sex. It's clear she's spent (and thoroughly enjoyed) her time researching the subject, unfortunately the book never really comes together. Mary Roach's 'signature wit' comes of more as juvenile as she seems lost in her perspective on her subject. Is Bonk a personal essay about her journey through the world of sex research? A portrait of the history of sex and the science surrounding it? Roach never settles...more
Rachel (BAVR)
Shocking news: It's really difficult to get funding for sex research even in these enlightened times. I know. A real travesty, right? What strikes me is that there's still a lot we don't know about sex. The female orgasm is harder to figure out than quantum physics because the experience is so subjective, and the various remedies for erectile dysfunction are varied and disputed. In Bonk, Mary Roach, with her customary wit and fearless approach to asking TMI questions, details the relationship be...more
Shivering William
A book about sex. You might not want to read on.

My uncle and I have read all of Mary Roach's books together. We had stomach churning conversations about cadavers at dinner parties and discussed the after life at meant-to-be light-hearted gatherings. He approached me with red in his cheeks after he finished this. "It's raw. But good." And that was the end of our conversation.

This was the kind of book that kept me laughing so hard people around me had to ask, "What, what?" and then I would reitera...more
Jim
I didn't think she could write a better book than Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, but I was wrong. "Bonk" is fantastic. I read it because I love Roach's style, especially on tough subjects. I'm over 50, grew up on a farm, had an active sexual life before & after I got married almost 30 years ago & have raised 3 kids to adulthood. I'm a sysadmin & there isn't much I haven't seen on the Internet. So, how much new material could there be?

Plenty, but that wasn't what shocked...more
Coco Prato
In a few words, this book is poorly written and less than informative. The information, IF YOU CAN FIND ANY, in this book is mostly trivial and/or useless. (The actual amount of info in the book might have made a long magazine article in Cosmo.) The book is shamelessly padded with jokes and cutesy side remarks, found both in the text and in anecdotes in textual footnotes. Since they often have nothing to do either with the book's subject or the material on the page at hand, they quickly become f...more
Muhammed Hebala
Roach strikes a nice balance between science, history and humor to keep the book interesting and readable.

I think that the best of this book – like Stiff – is acknowledging that life, death and sex are all a bit absurd and for that we really should be very grateful.

if you're looking for a forthright and humorous scientific break-down of erotic encounters, the clit, the g-spot, the erection.... well, this may not be the book for you.

roach focuses her special, special attentions on the sex resear...more
Jen
Feb 23, 2010 Jen rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: interested bonkers
Recommended to Jen by: sex needs no recommendation
Bonk. Bang. Scrump. Everyone has a different word for it. Sometimes there aren't even words; a wink-wink, nudge-nudge, and an eyebrow lift or two can be enough. But what's behind it? The science of it? And hasn't everyone wondered about what happens if a guy loses a ball (or two) and needs another? Where to go? What to do? It's all in this book.

That written, this book is not as interesting as Roach's book on cadavers. But before I'm called a prude, I want to make sure that all have the opportu...more
Jim
This is another great book by Mary Roach. I have to hand it to this lady, she leaves no stone unturned in her mission to shed some light on our favourite topic. Mary travelled great distances to watch foreplay between inseminators and sows, voyeuristically spied on mating monkeys, and even went so far as to offer to put a gent's new penile implant to the squeeze test. Heck, she even recruited her husband to do (it) under observation, becoming a research subject in the process.

Her research is exh...more
Lori Whitwam
(Review starts with a recent blog post, written mid-book, then my conclusion)

Well, maybe it is, just a little bit.

As I've often stated here, I read very little non-fiction. Too dry, too dull, too fact-intensive. Just too. A couple of months ago, I read Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. Roach's good-natured obsession with researching anything and everything that interests her is infectious. Plus, I'm fairly morbid, so the topic appealed to me. Seriously, I can watch surger...more
Sandy
One in every 5000 women is born without a vaginal canal.
who knew?

this is the kind of fact mary roach loves to ferret out of medical journals and research papers--and then, she loves to create puns and laugh out loud smarty-pants remarks about the sexologists and their crazy ideas and inventions. she's a science writer for the masses who footnotes like a fiend.

but hey, it's not all penis cameras, pyrex tubes and statistics about ER visits for 'object retrieval'. Roach visits implant surgeons in...more
Meen
Nov 02, 2008 Meen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Oh, everybody, it's just that much fun!
Recommended to Meen by: It was on the $1 shelf at Page & Palette
Unlike any science book I've ever read--enlightening and hilarious! I can't remember the last time I laughed so much with a book. (OK, I don't really read a lot of funny stuff. Occupational hazard?) Almost every footnote made me LOL and want to mark the page so I could post it on GR somewhere, but there were just too many good ones. But you know what stuck with me most about this book? How revolutionary it is for women to have control of their bodies, sexually, reproductively, to be intellectual...more
Megan
Well thank god that's over. (That's what she said.) This book had lots of interesting studies and facts and tidbits about sex and how our body parts work and what turns people on and off, but after a while I just started to get bored with it so it took me forever to finish. There's only so much discussion about vajayjays and penii functions that a girl can take before she feels like she's reading a medical journal. Or some kind of really weird, specific porn. This is definitely way more entertai...more
Chloe
The eminent sage and philosopher Donald Rumsfeld once said "As we know,
There are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know." Now I never gave that phrase much thought, other than requisite snort of derision, until recently when I began listening to the audiobook for Mary Roach's Bonk. It was only then that I understoo...more
Books Ring Mah Bell
This book has it all!!!!
-A little history of studies on sex (Kinsey! Masters and Johnson)
-Erections
-Use of erections in martial arts (go rent Iron Crotch!)
-Surgery for erection enhancement. (Graphic. It made my stomach churn)
-Dildos (or use of electric toothbrushes as dildos.)
-Orgasms (and a lady who has orgasms when she brushes her teeth… awesome!)
-Failure to orgasm (Princess Bonaparte blamed it on a distant clitoris for the ladies. If the clitoris is more than an inch away from the vagina, cha...more
Meg
I just read this one in my book club and I am here to tell you that book clubs are not just for ladies bored with cookie exchanges and Tupperware parties or for those with a hall pass to get drunk and catty. In fact I recently joined one filled with funny Kindergarten moms who happen to like wine, a lot, and chocolate (which happens to be brought in Tupperware) while talking about a lot of things, including good books.

We recently sought out a book about sex. We didn't really need a how-too manua...more
MAP
Jun 07, 2009 MAP rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: psychologists, researchers, and anyone not too afraid of being seen reading this in public
This book is just as much about researchers' struggle to get funding for and effectively carry out research on sex as it is about the findings of the sex research. As someone who also does research on rather "taboo" subjects, I instantly connected with the scientists' struggles and attempts to break out of stigma, all the while coating their research in highly jargony terms to get it approved for funding.

This, coupled with Mary Roach's witty style of writing and obviously genuine enjoyment of th...more
Jenne
I might have said this on an earlier review, but Mary Roach is on the top of my list of interesting people to have dinner with...or actually maybe dinner isn't the best idea. Maybe we could just hang out in a non-food-related setting.

This is a woman who is truly dedicated to her work. I won't go into the details, but wow.
Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship}
After getting over the giggles and settled down to read this seriously, I found this book educational, interesting and jaw-dropping. If I'd recorded the soundtrack of me reading this it would be full of giggles, gasps, oh my gods and ewws. Anyone listening would assume I was Bonking, instead of reading about it.

Mary Roach fully immerses herself in her research, even taking part in some studies to experience the experiments for herself. I feel for her husband. Being married to her can mean findi...more
Shannon
Mary Roach is ridiculously readable. The following are the quotes in the book that made me lol. (Keep in mind, I am weird. The first one isn't even supposed to be funny, but out of context- it makes me laugh, for some reason).

"Archibald concedes that the machines represent a stereotypically male notion of what women enjoy."

"The job of a production pig is to produce more pigs, as many pigs as pigly possible."

"Perhaps I would decipher the secret language of pigs."

"Who clubs a hamster?"

"'I am incr...more
Sarah
okay i didn't REALLY read the *entire* thing. But I read like 85% of it and skimmed the rest. And for the most part it was pretty hilarious. I had some problems with it thought. I felt like I spent the whole book waiting for her get to the point about people having different kinds of sex. The book, supposedly, is about sex. But it's never really clear how she defines sex. She (and scientists) seem to be working mostly from a sex-as-intercourse assumption. This was most clearly illustrated when s...more
Jayme
Nov 20, 2010 Jayme rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jayme by: 42 Days of Medicine
Shelves: 2010, science
So glad I came across this at the book store. Mary Roach has been on my list for a while, so when I saw it on sale (only $6 for the hardcover!) I couldn't help myself.

This was full of all sorts of things I did and didn't want to know, all of them really interesting. Considering the century we live in it was amazing how throughout the book you get to see how little we really know about human sexuality and how hard it is for scientists to get the funding they need to study these things.

That said t...more
Tania
Sex is far more than the sum of its moving parts


As always this was very entertaining and informative. Some of the suprises was a full chapter on princess Marie Bonaparte (Napoleon's niece), and the repeated appearances of dr.Watson (the behavioral psychologist) in a book about sex research. I really appreciated the fact that Mary Roach and her husband participated in some of the experiments - that's dedication for you.

Dan (The Chaotic Reader)
Roach can probably take any topic and make it interesting as well as humorous. It's apparent that she is very devoted to her research. I will very likely be reading her other two books soon.
♪Bεε
Ive stopped reading at my last update.

What is wrong with ME!? Nothing. But this time, I can blame it on my childhood (again!!)

Dont get me wrong, because Mary Roach is not wrong. In fact, she is a brilliant science writer, effortlessly connecting with the reader. Smart as a whip and funny to boot, she is exactly what I love about learning odd and wacky facts, figures, and science.

Regardless, I felt there was far more detail than I ever wanted to know. No, this does not make me prude. There are l...more
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LSPL Book Junkies: Bonk meeting 1 6 Mar 20, 2013 05:24PM  
LSPL Book Junkies: Monday Question #4 4 13 Mar 19, 2013 08:48PM  
LSPL Book Junkies: Monday Question #3 3 8 Mar 13, 2013 07:13PM  
LSPL Book Junkies: Monday Question # 2 3 9 Mar 05, 2013 03:59PM  
LSPL Book Junkies: Ask Mary Roach a question 1 11 Feb 22, 2013 04:22PM  
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Mary Roach is the author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers and Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife. Her writing has appeared in such publications as Salon, GQ, Vogue, and the New York Times Magazine. She lives in Oakland, California.

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More about Mary Roach...
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places

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“It is the mind that speaks a woman's heart, not the vaginal walls.” 39 likes
“Hormones are nature's three bottles of beer.” 32 likes
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