Thursday, March 13, 2008
Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach
I received an early review copy of this book and was interested to note that it was a highly sought after book. I was one of 20 lucky library thing reviewers to receive it. I thought perhaps it might be because I live in Bloomington, Indiana the location of the Kinsey Institute and one of Mary Roach’s subjects in the early chapters of her book.
Whatever the cause, I was thrilled to get the chance to read this fascinating look at how sex research is done and how scientists throughout the ages have viewed sex. What makes it imminently readable is that Roach has the perfect sense of humor and quite literally inserts herself into the science whenever she can. If research about sex seems awkward then it is so much easier to write about and read about when we picture this woman boldly going where no one has gone before, into the sex lab with microphone and notebook, ready to take pictures, make notes and even in a few circumstances participate in the research in order to see it and understand it in action.
Although I enjoyed every chapter, especially her footnotes, most notable was the chapter on MRI’s and coital imaging in which she got her husband to join her in the MRI machine. I also loved the story about the career of Middle Eastern doctor and sex researcher Ahmed Shafik who researches sex undercover. If you think finding subjects for sex research in the west is difficult, imagine trying to do it in a Muslim country.
This book is laugh out loud funny, captivating and very relevant to most of our lives and relationships.