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Bonk: The Curious Coupling Of Sex And Science [Paperback]

Mary Roach
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Jun 2008
The 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, James Watson and Napoleon Bonaparte’s great grand-niece Marie. The research has taken place behind the closed doors of laboratories, brothels, MRI centres, pig farms, sex toy R&D labs and Alfred Kinsey’s attic. Mary Roach devoted the past two years to stepping behind those doors. The result is Bonk: everything you wanted to know but couldn’t imagine that someone in a white lab coat had studied. Can a person think herself to orgasm? Can a dead man get an erection? Can Kegeling cure erectile dysfunction? Can Broadway musicals cause it? Is vaginal orgasm a myth? If you can transplant a face, then why not a penis? What happens if you surgically relocate your clitoris? Why doesn’t Viagra help women—or, for that matter, pandas? Does orgasm boost fertility? Cure hiccups? Do the earlobes swell during sex? Few things are as fundamental to human happiness than satisfying sex. Yet the funding for research, always elusive, has dwindled sharply. Bonk is both an ode to a fascinating and vital pursuit and a reminder that there is still much to learn. Sexual arousal and orgasm are two of the most complex, delightful, utterly amazing scientific phenomena on earth. Sexology, as Roach approaches it, is right up there too.

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Bonk: The Curious Coupling Of Sex And Science + Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers + Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
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Product details

  • Paperback: 333 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books (5 Jun 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847672264
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847672261
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 361,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Eye-opening...compelling stuff.' -- Independent on Sunday

'Mary Roach writes hilariously...the reader is vastly entertained.' -- The Good Book Guide

'Roach puts her quick wit to good service in this entertaining romp through sex research.' -- Independent

Bonk contains everything you ever wanted to know about the science of sex but were too afraid to ask. -- Guardian

Mary Roach's tome is different. She...has a light touch and a readably flippant tone. -- London Lite

Spry, sharp-witted and charmingly self-deprecating... Delightful. -- Sunday Times on Six Feet Over

Witty and original... Packed with more arresting details elegantly and humorously expressed than one could hope for. -- Sunday Telegraph Sunday Telegraph on Six Feet Over

terrifically witty, hugely engaging study of the way we love -- Telegraph

Book Description

The bestselling author of Stiff and Six Feet Over sets her outrageous and insightful gaze on the most alluring scientific subject of them all: sex.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
"Not everyone gets their (masturbation study) funding from research grants. Some masturbation professionals get their funding from the sales of Vibrating Port-A-Pussies and Mr. Fred Jelly Dongs." - Mary Roach in BONK

"To get inside a lubricated vagina, a penis needs to be hard enough to push against the opening with one to two pounds of force. That is approximately the amount of force required to open a swinging kitchen door." - Mary Roach in BONK

Mary Roach is the author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, the enormously instructive and entertaining book on the uses to which human cadavers are put. As far as I'm concerned, instructive AND entertaining is about as good as it gets. With BONK, Roach has outdone herself with a read that I couldn't put down.

Science pursues sex because, after all, it's what makes the world turn. Roach first establishes the history of the science, which pretty much reached mainstream acceptance with researchers Alfred Kinsey and then William Masters and Virginia Johnson. (An excellent film about the former, starring Liam Neeson, is Kinsey [2004].
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I keep hearing about this little number from, ahem, 'satisfied customers' amongst the online bookish community on LibraryThing, 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!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fun education 10 Oct 2008
The book was a brilliant read. Mary Roach can capture the significance of her research with a wonderful sense of humour. Her photo breaks in the book, had me giggling only to be followed by bellowed laughter in the context of the writing. I was the best way to learn. If this is your first book by Mary Roach, you will enjoy her previous books.

This book may also help explain certain aspects of your 'private' life. I certainly learnt more.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the funniest books I've ever read 9 Jun 2009
Mary Roach brings two qualities to her history of sex research. Firstly, her sense of humour: she doesn't miss a chance for a witty aside, and this topic gives lots of opportunities for them. Her description of a visit to a sex toy factory had me absolutely howling, and there are moments like that throughout the book. Second is her dogged determination to track down the documents, people and um... apparatus that tell the history of sexology from all angles. Her appetite for understanding even led to volunteering herself and her husband as subjects in a sex study. In the hands of a lesser writer, this would have turned out as a puerile "naughty interesting facts" kind of book. Instead, it's a laugh-out-loud page-turner telling an often heroic and sometimes appalling story of how scientists have fought against (or often promoted) social or religious taboos, helping us understand our own and our partner's bodies and responses.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Curious coupling? 10 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A fascinating and amusing read touching on subjects you could hardly imagine. The author must have had a lot of fun along the way and I love the humour!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What sex research can tell you about better sex 20 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It was the title of this book that caught my attention and it didn't let me down. This is one of the funniest books about sex research you'll ever come across but no less informative for that.

Well researched itself, the author delves without embarrassment into the strange, sometimes devious and single minded focus of the famous, the infamous and some of the lesser known researchers into the physical and mental problems of sex and its enjoyment.

Along the way you'll discover a lot of 'facts' you either didn't know or have heard secondhand. You'll learn the truth about some of the real problems sex researchers have faced in their search for the 'truth' about orgasm and why we will do, almost, anything to get to it. You'll discover things about sex enhancement 'tools' that will surprise you as much as they shocked the author. In all your eyes will be opened to details of human sexuality that you would never have imagined.

You'll also find summations of areas of conflicting research which will confound some myths. For example does the fabled G spot really exist, and what have sex researchers done to find it? By putting the salient points of the variety of sex research into one book the author gives you a clearer understanding of what really makes us 'tick' sexually.

This is more than just a book about sex research. You'll learn a lot about the human sex drive (and animal too) and how, why and what turns people on. You'll come out of it better educated about sex and all its ramifications. You might even learn something about yourself and your partner. It may even encourage you to explore areas of sexual behaviour that you might not have considered.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting as ever
As interesting as ever, although not my favourite title by Mary Roach. Also she uses footnotes a lot which all appear at the end of the chapter on Kindle edition making it hard to... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Jenna-Louise
5.0 out of 5 stars Exacty what I expected.
A very good bedtime book for everyone. Quite thorough investigation into the subject. Covers equally both male and female aspects. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Christos Mitsarakis
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
A really interesting look into the world of the science and non-science of sex research. I learnt things about how sexual function works that I didn't even realise I didn't... Read more
Published 6 months ago by P. Pool
5.0 out of 5 stars Book
Book arrived safely and quickly. Enjoyed the book, and would look out for this author again. Thank you very much.
Published 6 months ago by Margot J Robertson
3.0 out of 5 stars An amusing oeuvre
Quite an amusing read (though not as funny as her Gulp). Very female-oriented, as might be expected from the author's gender.
Published 8 months ago by D. C. Day
5.0 out of 5 stars Why did I buy this?
Simply because I saw the author on TV and it sounded interesting - and it very much is!! I'm still reading it but it is one of the most informative reads I have had the pleasure... Read more
Published 9 months ago by David price
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and funny
I thought, I laughed, then I thought some more. Here's 11 more words else amazon won't save my review, ok?
Published 9 months ago by Jodie
5.0 out of 5 stars What Jaws did to swimming in the sea...
Often funny and at times quite intimidating, this book is a very well researched and brilliantly written book from start to finish. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Njal Keay
3.0 out of 5 stars Amusing but somewhat repetative
A lot of research has been undertaken but the narrative jumps from one situation to another interupting the flow of the story, nevertheless worth reading.
Published 11 months ago by mr Peter Herbert
4.0 out of 5 stars good, but...
i bought this after reading 'gulp' and expected it to be as brilliant. it was good, funny in parts and entertaining but didn't quite reach the heights of 'gulp' especially in the... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Honeybob
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