Mary Roach is considered the world’s funniest science writer, and this work is no exception to that. She mixes the scientific lingo with the layman’s terms with such ease that the reader is eased into whatever niche topic Ms. Roach is discussing. We all become scientists for a moment while reading Mary Roach. Bonk is no different from her other works in this sense, and if you’ve read other Mary Roach this book and its subject should not be surprising.
In fact, I found it refreshing. It’s frank and honest, it spans centuries of research and gives attention to the why of sex research. If you happen to be one of those people who thinks sex doesn’t exist or that it’s not worth discussing or researching because it’s oh-so-very-private, this may not be the book for you. On the other hand, maybe it is exactly the book for you. Sex exists and we wouldn’t be here without it and it truly is an everyone issue. There is discussion of monkey sex and rat sex and penis cameras and very clinical MRI sex (that’s sex inside of an MRI machine, not with an MRI machine, a clarification I don’t think I needed to make but one that Mary Roach would probably make because the research really covers so very much). Being able to connect the timeline from when gynecologists performed their exams blindly to a present day understanding of sexual health is a journey worth taking.
I also think this might be a book for anyone who needs the push to get over themselves about the delicacy of sex. You can only read about genitalia and their specifics so many times before you just kind of think “yeah yeah, I get it, genitals! What else can they do?” If there is a topic of sex research not covered in Bonk I certainly don’t know what it is, and I suppose that is also part of the point. Bonk truly covers the history of sex research and brings it to life with humor. If there is more sex research to be done, hopefully Bonk II is in our future. The footnotes alone are enough to sustain the volume; I enjoy a good footnote.
I highly recommend Bonk, and Mary Roach in general, to anyone interested in science, or reading non-fiction, or just reading anything at all. You come away feeling a little more of an expert on a topic you may not have realized you were interested in in the first place. Or a topic in which you are deeply interested in but maybe you don’t want to Google it first.