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Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex

by Mary Roach

genre: non-fiction, psychology, sexology, science, human sexuality

A decent book that covers a little bit of everything in the realm of sex science. Find out why I gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars!

Summary

(Taken from Goodreads)

book-review-bonk-mary-roachThe 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, “the funniest science writer in the country” (Burkhard Bilger of ‘The New Yorker’), devoted the past two years to stepping behind those doors. Can a person think herself to orgasm? Can a dead man get an erection? Is vaginal orgasm a myth? Why doesn’t Viagra help women or, for that matter, pandas?

In ‘Bonk’, Roach shows us how and why sexual arousal and orgasm, two of the most complex, delightful, and amazing scientific phenomena on earth, can be so hard to achieve and what science is doing to slowly make the bedroom a more satisfying place. 16 illustrations.

Review

I grabbed this book hesitantly. As someone who wants to learn a lot about sexology in a scientific and critical way, I was worried that this book would have too much pop-science. It was surprisingly enjoyable and I learned quite a bit.

The good: I really enjoyed the sexology history. There was a lot of content dedicated to sex researchers (like Kinsey and Masters) and their contributions to sexology and science. Even though I knew of the famous ones like Kinsey, I was happy to learn the details of their careers and achievements. I love reading research that is serious about sex. There is so much we have yet to learn because of how sex often makes people feel uncomfortable. And I’m grateful I learned more about these great researchers. I also liked how the author talked about the difficulties and barriers these researchers ran into as they tried to conduct their work.

The book also had a strong focus on sexual physiology research. Most of it is on sexual response. Even though there was quite a lot I knew, there was a lot I didn’t. I was fascinated by the chapter that discussed surgery options for men with premature ejaculation. I thought viagra or therapy were the only options ever explored!

I enjoyed her writing style for the most part. I liked how she took the reader from place to place and interview to interview. There were many interesting characters (researchers and surgeons). She could have just summarised her encounters but she made an effort to make it immersive which often scientific content can lack.

The not so good: I disliked how she often made little immature jokes or comments when discussing important sex topics. The pop science side of the book shone most in those moments, so I understood why she did it but I felt it weakened the book. They were cheap comments in my opinion. And because of that I felt like she didn’t help with the general public’s opinion of sexology research. It should be respected as much as any other health/psychology field. But I am probably being too harsh.

Overall, I’m glad I read it even though it’s not a favourite. It gives a great foundation in sexual response research and detailing the work of prominent sexology researchers. If you love the research side of sexology, it’s a must read. If you wanted a stronger focus on the psychology of sex and sex therapy, there are better books (even though those one does touch on these topics

3.5 out of 5 stars

amazonbutton2 copyThis book is for you if you:

  • Cover significant research historically in sex
  • Learn a lot about sexual response

This book is not for you if you:

  • Want a very serious book about sex
  • Want a book focusing on sex therapy and the psychology of sex

 Ermisenda Alvarez

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