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Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex

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3.84  ·  Rating details ·  48,107 ratings  ·  4,393 reviews
In Bonk, the best-selling author of Stiff turns her outrageous curiosity and insight on the most alluring scientific subject of all: sex. Can a person think herself to orgasm? Why doesn't Viagra help women-or, for that matter, pandas? Can a dead man get an erection? Is vaginal orgasm a myth? Mary Roach shows us how and why sexual arousal and orgasm-two of the most complex, delightfu ...more
Paperback, 303 pages
Published April 6th 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published March 17th 2008)
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Average rating 3.84  · 
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 ·  48,107 ratings  ·  4,393 reviews


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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 lo
...more
Trevor
Nov 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Michael
Jul 11, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, 2000s
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/>Did
...more
Petal X Planet
Jul 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: medicine-science, sex
3.5 stars.

This was like cup of cocoa sex. Sex is always good but sometimes you can't help hoping it will be over soon and you can have a cup of cocoa, maybe with cream. Marshmallows even. Maybe a sprinkle of cinnamom and some grated chocolate curls. Oh there I go, mind drifted off.

Read 13 Dec. 2013 and forgotten about until now. Now what was it reminded me. Friday night. Hopeful. And if not... there is always cocoa.
Geoffrey Kleinman
Jun 09, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Heather K (dentist in my spare time)


Mary Roach is always on her game. She is funny, and her subjects are all so interesting. The narrator of this audiobook was also on point. But while I enjoyed this book, I think my 3 star rating is mostly my own fault.

Because I apparently already knew all the freaky weird details about sex... like almost all of them covered in this book.

In this case, I guess my love of sexual oddities and all things weird conspired against me because parts of this book felt, dare I say it, boring.

I still love you, Mary Roach, and I'll
...more
rachel
Sep 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: true-story, own, 2012
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
...more
jess
Jul 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
My first book was about human cadavers, and as a result, people assumed that I’m obsessed with death. Now that I have written a book about both sex and death, God only knows what the word on the street is.

I have both books by Mary Roach, but I decided to start with the second. I don’t know what that says about me, but I would rather learn more about sex than about cadavers. For now.

It’s not surprising that the study of sexual physiology, with a few notable exceptions, did not get ro/>
...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 example, the bori
...more
Megan Baxter
Jun 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mary Roach takes her practially-patented whirlwind tour through the world of sex research. And for the most part, it's very fun. And occasionally cringe-inducing. But less so than Stiff, which had me avoiding that book any time I was eating. Bonk never gave me the same problems.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
David
Jun 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is definitely an entertaining book. Mary Roach did a lot of personal investigations; she visited sex researchers to find out what they are up to, how they do research, what are their findings. She describes the early researchers, like Kinsey and Masters and Johnson. She even volunteers herself and her husband as subjects for some of their experiments. She visits scientists who put willing couples into an MRI to take images of the proceedings. She visits sex toy factories to find out how emp ...more
Jim
Dec 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 me. Ther
...more
Christian McKay
Jan 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: runner-ups
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?"
...more
Coco Prato
Jan 27, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
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
Rachel (BAVR)
Dec 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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 between science an ...more
Jim
Dec 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
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 res
...more
Wanda
Mary Roach, as usual, is drawn to the weird and the wonderful. I love her sense of humour about whatever her current obsession happens to be. A book about sex research could be dry and boring, but not with Ms. Roach at the helm.

Male readers may cringe at several of the chapters regarding surgery on the family jewels—it made me a little queasy. I am also amazed that she managed to drag her husband along to participate in research projects with her. He is obviously a guy with a sense of adventure
...more
Jay Green
May 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not as raunchy as I'd hoped for, but then the subtitle doesn't exactly set you up for raunch. It was my own fault, my own fervid expectation, based on my enjoyment of reading Roach's other books. That said, Roach is never a disappointment.
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 atte
...more
Lori Whitwam
Apr 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
(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. Serio
...more
Jen
Mar 27, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Alex
Dec 31, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Mary Roach is always entertaining - possibly our best living author just for "shit that might be fun to talk about at a party" - but this isn't her best work.

The thing that's fun about her is that she gets hands-on with her research. She visits corpse farms and goes into low-earth orbit. And there just wasn't as much of that here. I'm all "I just want to read about Mary Roach fucking things," I know, and why am I complaining? She nails her husband in an MRI tube! - but that's sortof
...more
Raeleen Lemay
Mar 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, nonfiction
This was a fun read! It was funny, well-researched, and extremely readable. I think Mary Roach is a great place to start for people wanting to get into nonfiction. For the most part, it was a chill ride filled with interesting sex facts and information about sexual studies that are (or I guess, were [this came out over a decade ago] being conducted) that I found to be fascinating. And each chapter is told with such ease, you almost feel like Mary could be a friend of yours.

BUT this book
...more
Amanda
Jun 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If ever there were a book about sex that were less sexy than Bonk, it would have to have been written specifically for that purpose. A veritable calliope of penis especially, vaginas, engorged... everythings and extremely graphic, medical detail, this is not for the faint of heart. Yes, you'll need to gird your loins for this one.
(Sorry).

If you're interested in a scientific look at sex and how it works (or doesn't work, as is often so lamentably the case), then this is probably the book for you. If
...more
~✡~Dαni(ela) ♥ ♂♂ love & semi-colons~✡~
~3.5~

There's nothing here I didn't already know. Should I be alarmed? Take heed: you can learn a lot about the science of sex from smutty books.

Roach is a very engaging writer. She does an incredible amount of research for her books and makes science approachable and FUN.

One tidbit; if you need a penis reattached, Thailand is the place to go:

Two of the wives flushed the penises down the toilet, forcing their husbands to grope for their lost manhood inside the septic tank/>
...more
Bibliovoracious
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious! Science? Sex? Yes, it's as sordid and stomach turning as you might expect from "science and sex" (just think "1800's" for a second, and if that doesn't do it, think "foreign objects..."), but Mary Roach makes it hilarious.

This is sort of a roving history of scientists turning their keen (and until lately, MALE) eyes toward sexual function. Naturally cultural mores were turning their keen eyes on the scientists (they must be pervs!), so sex science is predictably stunted, a
...more
Megan
Dec 31, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, non-fiction
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 entertaining th ...more
Meen
Jul 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 intellectually informed a ...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
...more
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8,358 followers
Mary Roach is the author of the New York Times bestsellers STIFF: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers; GULP: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, PACKING FOR MARS: The Curious Science of Life in the Void; and BONK: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex.

Her most recent book, GRUNT: The Curious Science of Humans at War, is out in June 2016.

Mary has written for National Geographic, Wired, Discover
...more
“It is the mind that speaks a woman's heart, not the vaginal walls.” 52 likes
“Hormones are nature's three bottles of beer.” 43 likes
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