Pub. Date:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex

by Mary Roach
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A New York Times Bestseller

“Rich in dexterous innuendo, laugh-out-loud humor and illuminating fact. It’s compulsively readable.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review

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, delightful, and amazing scientific phenomena on earth-can be so hard to achieve and what science is doing to make the bedroom a more satisfying place.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393334791
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 04/06/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 79,171
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Mary Roach is the author of Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, and Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. Her writing has appeared in Outside, Wired, National Geographic, and the New York Times Magazine, among others. She lives in Oakland, California.


San Francisco, California

Place of Birth:

New Hampshire


B.A., Wesleyan University, 1981

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Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 244 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reading science writer Mary Roach is always a pleasure and this new book is no different. The Californian journalist surely has an eye for quirky and the downright sensational. In 2003, she ventured into the fate of dead bodies in her hit book Stiff: The Curious Lives Of Human Cadavers. After that, she wrote on theories of the soul in Six Feet Over: Adventures In The Afterlife. This time, she has outdone herself with the sexiest topic of all: well, sex itself. She takes a romp through all the history of the study of sexual physiology, tackling questions such as: Can you have an orgasm just by using your head? Why doesn't Viagra help women? Is the clitoris a tiny penis? Roach takes these juicy topics head on with painstaking research - just look at the endless entertaining footnotes - and intrepid excursions to meet some interesting personalities. For example, there is the visit to a Danish pig farm to observe farmers enhancing sow pleasure during artificial insemination for better results. She also goes to Taiwan to speak to a doctor who specializes in penis surgery. In another chapter, she and her husband volunteer as subjects in an experiment to capture a real-time image of human intercourse. Her husband chats to the officer during the observed sex to diffuse the tension while Roach takes notes. Her quip? 'I feel like a secretary in a ribald French comedy.' Indeed, it is Roach's eye for comedy and oddball interests that drive the book at a spry pace. The journey is entertaining and enlightening. Critics have said that her cleverness is a mask for bad organization and her smirky tone is a general turn-off. But one feels that real warmth and sympathy do come through in the book and Roach shows respect for research scientists who, in her words, 'endure ignorance, closed minds, righteousness and prudery'. 'Their lives are not easy. But their cocktail parties are the best.' We should not quarrel with a voice like that.
Atthebeach More than 1 year ago
Saw Mary Roach on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (she was a riot!) and bought all her books to read. "Bonk" (as in 'he bonked her') is about sex and the science practiced on the subject over the past 150 years. Somehow Roach found just about every scientific and medical experiment and study done on anything to do with sex and digested them all into this brief book (it could have been volumes.) She goes with the best stuff, the weird and funny stuff, and throws in her own wit and sometimes gross humor. The things some people have done in the name of research is mind-blowing. The 'results' are fascinating. Roach's take on it all makes you laugh out loud. I learned a few things, too. I might mention that we also saw Mary Roach give a TED lecture some time ago on the subject of orgasms. A 15 minute digest on the topic for the TED annual convention (you can find it and watch it on the TED web site). That, too, was a riot! And, unless you're a prude, you'll probably love this book and the lecture.
Whymsy More than 1 year ago
Not for the General Reader. Roach has a playful, but matter-of-fact writing style making a very charged subject more comfortable –though by no means relaxed. Her genius for chapter titles and ability to put her real feelings and experiences researching and writing this book made me feel like I wasn’t alone as I wrestled with my own colorings and impressions of the info she presented. Overall this book is quite the trip. I definitely experienced “What the hell?” moments that stuck with me. At times I laughed out loud and other times I cringed as my over active imagination supplied me with images I can never unsee. It took me awhile to get through it as I wrestled with my feelings on the wide variety of subjects and I would say this isn’t your typical one sit read. This book deserves a chance to be absorbed and thought over, not rushed through like a racer only looking for the finished line. Caution: This is not a book for the general reader and definitely only for older somewhat(which always is relative) mature readers, but I do have to say I liked it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had read and loved her book Stiff and was excited to find this book at a Body Worlds exhibit. This book was not a disappointment. Mary Roach and her hubby throw themselves into her research, and the results are hilarious. Another win for Mary Roach. Not a book for anyine who is not interested in human body function or for the prudish.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While the title certainly seems titilating, the book swings from funny to gross to amazing to unbelievable, and back again, too often to notice there's not much here for those seeking a cheap thrill. Instead, expect to find a new appreciation for those bold enough to study what are often taboo subjects, and she who was bold enough to write about them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ihave to tip my hat to mary roach for this book. I like the way she talked about sex in a way that was funny as well as informative. I will say this book opened my eyes in more eays than one. This is a must read, its not for kids but one book that will stick with you for awhile
elmyra on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Light holiday reading on the beach. Giggle-tastic. Passes Bechdel quite happily as so many of the scientists Roach works with are women.
fakelvis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For a popular science book, the folksy, jokey tone the book is written in takes some getting used to. I understand that it's difficult to write about a topic like sex in a dry, scientific manner, but there are also other, better ways than innuendo and bad jokes.That said, once you get used to this and come to accept it, the book really takes on a life and personality of its own and becomes thoroughly enjoyable. It had me laughing in places and wide-eyed with surprise in others. Some of the research is fascinating and opens up a whole world of questions.Summary: if you're remotely interested in the "science of sex" (coition only) and you are looking for a very light-hearted approach to the topic, then this is worth your time.
rfewell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was so great! Tons of great research and anecdotal information about sex -- it would be great for a "progressive-thinking" book club.
ivirago on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent, very interesting and loved the author's sense of humour. I'm still telling people about some of the snippets I read in the book.
Uffer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fascinating, funny and bizarre by turns, this is a book with a rather scattered approach. We are informed on subjects as apparently unconnected as the use of porn films in research and pig breeding, in probably as much detail as you could possibly want,.All along the way as Roach gleefully parades for our amusement and enlightenment the peculiar things otherwise perfectly respectable scientists get up to in the name of figuring out how It works, there are footnotes, tangents and asides aplenty to point out the ridiculousness of some aspects of human sexuality. From time to time these can be a little too much of a good thing and the flippancy can grate here and there, but on the whole this was a fascinating, er, ride... Maybe I should rephrase that? Never mind.I don't really recommend reading this on the train, particularly if you have the edition with the doodles and diagrams on the cover (I got a number of bemused looks, particularly in the funny parts), but I do recommend you read it. If only so you can join me in wondering why the long-suffering Ed hasn't begun answering every question from his spouse with a reflexive 'No, and you can't make me!!!'
elliepotten on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I keep hearing about this little number from, ahem, 'satisfied customers' here on LT, so I thought I'd check it out for myself. Even though I had to stop reading 'Stiff' because it was making me so queasy, I had an idea I'd be safer with sex than dead bodies - fortunately, I was right! It's really a fascinating book. And Mary Roach is one helluva lady - no situation is too delicate, no question goes unasked, no naked body lies uncovered... She is also a fantastically funny writer, with a wry and self-deprecating sense of humour that acts as the perfect antidote to the cringeworthy, the ridiculous, and the downright embarrassing elements of the research she pulls together here. Everything from female libido to erectile dysfunction to primate sex is covered, with research drawn from the most ancient of philosophers right through to the most cutting-edge modern studies. Roach even participates in some of the studies herself, in the name of science and finding out what the hell goes on behind the closed doors of sexual research institutions. All in all, a really excellent book, which managed to be incredibly interesting AND made me giggle every other page. Read it!
TadAD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Up front, I confess to a few moments of squirming in my seat...not from embarrassment...simply cringing at a few mental images from when, as she puts it, "urology approaches high comedy."Beyond those brief moments, however, the book is a hoot. Whether covering female orgasms, male erectile dysfunction, or even her own participation in studies, she simply gets down to the science of it, leavening everything with an immense amount of humor that takes it away from dull facts and figures into frank discussion of what's really going on. Yet, for all her humor, there isn't an ounce of voyeurism or smuttiness, making it comfortable, and appropriate, for a wide audience.Definitely recommended and don't skip the footnotes!
andreablythe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Having already tackled the subjects of human corpse (Stiff) and the afterlife (Spook), Roach once again takes on the taboo in Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex. As the title suggests, she looks at the science of sex -- from viagra to female libido to erectile implants to sex as a health benefit -- and she does so in her straightforward, unflinchingly humorous style. This book will probably make you blush; it made me blush. I would alternatively blush, let my jaw fall open, look around sheepishly to see who might be watching me read this strange book, and laugh. This may or may not be a book for those who are inhibited about discussing sex, as it is definitely unabashed about describing anatomy, though purely in a scientific way. There is much to me learned in this book, much that needs to be learned, and much that is purely amusing for the sake of anecdote. Bonk was a very enjoyable, though sometimes disturbing, read.
SarahJo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Funny, informative, and occasionally cringe-inducing.
spurnell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was a lot of fun. I giggled out loud more than once while reading it and felt the need to share facts I picked up with whoever happened to be sitting near me. Roach has a great way of mixing scientific facts with hilarious personal experiences that will have you learning and laughing at the same time.
pattiea on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mary Roach is a fantastic writer ("Stiff" was wonderful), and this is a truly fascinating subject, but to me, the book didn't meet my expectations. There were more anecdotes and fewer substantive stories than I expected, probably due to the limited access the author could gain to scientific researchers who were willing to be interviewed for the book. Still, it was an interesting read and educational as well.
esswedl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Scattered and pithy. Feels dashed-off, but has an irreverent humor.
msf59 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Thrill hammers, coital coronaries and pig orgasms. If any of these subjects spark your interest, this book is for you! Roach explores the scientific slant of the complicated and humorous world of sex, sometimes placing herself daringly in the center of some of the research. You will find yourself cringing one minute and laughing the next, sometimes simultaneously. This was my first book by Roach and I¿m looking forward to reading or listening to more of her work. For a better review, check out Stephen¿s, (Ape).
stretch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In Bonk, Roach describes the evolution of sex research and the sometimes brave scientists who willing put themselves in very awkward situations time and again for the betterment of humanity. Well maybe humanity is going a little too far, but they sure are helping making lives a bit more enjoyable. I was surprised at how thoroughly researched this book really is, covering not only the pioneering works of Robert Latou Dickenson (arguably the 1st serious scientific sex researcher), and Alfred Kinsey and his contemporaries, but also addressing modern day research into the complicated sex drive of women, men¿s ED issues, the sexual experiences of the physically handicapped, and even the research of truly brave scientist in Egypt trying to address sexual concerns in a conservative Muslim country. All wrapped in a fun, witty, disarming package thanks to Roach¿s somewhat sarcastic and cynical approach to the subject matter. I¿ll concede that some might find her approach tiresome, but I¿m not one of those people. Roach had me laughing from the first pages right up to the end. I also love that she herself (and her husband) stepped up to the plate on more then one occasion to be a subject in a study. Granted this was to get around some of the Human research restrictions placed on science of this nature. It still takes guts to be placed in such awkward positions and still have the wit and charm to pass it off as naturally as she does. I¿d imagined this book going one of two ways. Either it was going to be a brief history on the trivialities of sex, the porn industry, and the likes of Cosmo sexual surveys. Or it was going to be series of embarrassing encounters with no real substance. Happily it is neither of those. Bonk is a serious history of sex research and the obstacles researchers face, delivered in a humorous and fun way, with it¿s fair share of embarrassing moments. The only more through presentation of the past, present, and future of sex research can be found at the Kinsey Institute (also the largest private collection of pornographic material available to the public that is. I¿m so proud of IU.)
bbuchan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mary Roach brings her unique blend of humor and science this time to the topic of sex. You're sure to learn much you would not have imagined, and potentially a few things you would have preferred to have been left in the dark, but the book is sure to have you howling with laughter.
SqueakyChu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is probably more about sex than you ever wanted to know, but Mary Bonk's sense of humor makes parts of this book quite laugh-out loud funny.
catalogthis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good company on a long flight. Well-researched, with the occasional one-liner that will cause you to laugh out loud. In public. Be warned.
santhony on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When Mary Roach writes a book, she doesn¿t do a half-assed job. Regardless of the topic, she does her research and invariably produces a well written, highly educational treatise on the subject of her choosing, in this instance sex and science. I¿d be lying if I said that a book about sex isn¿t made even more interesting by the fact that the author is a very attractive female.Perhaps the hallmark of any Roach book, in addition to the educational quality, is the perfect mix of humor and hilarity. This is not deep thinking literature, but it is wildly entertaining and the perfect break between bouts of Dickens and Dostoevsky.
mazeway on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Review haiku:If we could all justAdmit that sex is funnyIt all gets better