You may have heard of Mary Roach. She’s the woman who wrote Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (of which I have heard great things but have not read). It became a best seller – so clearly this woman knows how to make the strange accessible to the masses. I found Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex on the sale table at Borders and grabbed it.
I don’t remember the last time I laughed so much reading a book. Bonk is not a book about sex, it’s a book about the ridiculous situations that arise when you are trying to study sex scientifically. Hamsters are wearing polyester pants. People are having intercourse inside MRI machines. Roach has a fine sense of the ridiculous, and the skills to let all of us in on the joke. Roach travels the world to witness first-hand (whenever possible) the studies that tells us what we know about bumping uglies.
One of the most interesting things in the book was finding out how little is really understood about the physical realities of human sexual intercourse. And the most interesting stuff seems… well, rather explicit for an open forum such as this. Instead, I’ve decided to share the topics of a few of the footnotes, to give you an idea of the randomness of the world and the breadth of her topic.
In no particular order (I can see my spam folder filling up now):
the sale of soiled panties in Japan
premature and retarded ejaculation
copulation rates of primates
the maternal fastidiousness of earwigs
the passage of flatus at coitus
artificial insemination of dogs in the 18th century
boar odor spray
the odor of the flowers of the Spanish chestnut tree
the great-grandniece of Napoleon and her gay husband
the Personal Pelvic Viewer (PPV for short).
Seriously, how can you not read this book?