Saturday, October 3, 2009

Bonk by Mary Roach

I've read all of Roach's single-word titled books, and she just keeps getting better. This one is about the science of sex. It would be hard to go wrong with this, as it merges two of my favorite topics.

Roach has a delightful sense of humor, and she's very diligent in her research. She traveled to a number of unexpected places during the writing of the book, including a mostly wasted trip to Egypt. Not really a country you'd expect to have pioneering sex research going on, and you'd be right. One determined guy was trying to prove a theory but the government frightened his subjects into not speaking with Roach. Nonetheless, that folly gives you an idea of how hard she works to find people on the margins who might add something to the body of research.

I learned a lot from the book; including a further confirmation of my belief that most of us try to make sex and sexual response seem simple. It can be, of course, but it can also be very difficult to fix certain sexual problems. The whole system is incredibly complex, and those of us who have systems that work reliably should be very, very grateful for them.

The final chapter was my favorite, and it surprised me a little. I won't reveal what she found, but I recommend you read the book and discover it for yourself. Don't let the science part intimidate you. It's science-light, and you'll understand it even if you didn't do well in biology.