Mary Roach is an author who has been on my radar for a while. I knew about her books, and her particular brand of letting-the-reader-in-on-the-joke writing about non-fiction which I learned when I dove into Packing for Mars earlier this year. So when Audible had a sale of Mary Roach’s books, I looked to see what I wanted to listen to next in her oeuvre (knowing that I already have a library request in for Stiff which is all about the life of cadavers). Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex seemed a clear winner, so off we went.
I was not disappointed at all in way Roach approached the topic, or her trademark wit. Basically Roach set out to get behind the closed doors of sex research and answer the questions that linger in the back of our minds, but either are afraid to ask or don’t know who to ask. I was also pleasantly surprised how much of what she covered I was already aware of. So while there wasn’t a ton of new ground being broken for me personally from this 2008 work, there was still an interesting story of the evolution of scientific research in the field, and that alone is worth the price of admission. I knew, but perhaps hadn’t put a lot of thought into the idea that scientific research was, at an earlier time, just about wanting to know and now it’s often about who’s willing to pay. There was a great push forward in research about sex in the first half of the 20th century, and the second half of the century saw that research whittled down into revenue streams. But I digress.
While I do suggest this book to you, I’m not sure I suggest the audio version. The narrator of this one, Sandra Burr, did a great job, and had that certain slyness that one often reads in Roach’s words. But… and this might just be me, I often found myself struggling to concentrate on what I was hearing. I think I personally might have to stay away from audio non-fictions, but your mileage will certainly vary.