The author of Stiff, a history of the scientific life of cadavers, is at it again. The title of Mary Roach’s latest book is enough to catch anyone’s interest. It’s edgy, offbeat and very fitting. Although Bonk is a slightly silly title, it is a very appropriate name for a New York Times bestseller that combines hard, researched fact with Roach’s oftentimes hilarious personal experiences on her quest to discover the modern scientific community’s take on the verb “to bonk.”
As a concept, Bonk is singularly interesting. Roach studies the history of scientific inquires into human sexuality and physiology over the last century. She condenses the studies and gives a general explanation of the researched findings to readers unfamiliar with the intricacies of human sexuality.
Moreover, the puns, witty footnotes and oddities described are truly inspired. I laughed out loud on more than one occasion, and it wasn’t due to my discomfort and uneasiness with some of the material.
Despite the subject’s obvious capability for raunchiness, Bonk is never vulgar. Roach approaches a historically taboo subject with pragmatic frankness and praises the efforts of the sexual research “pioneers.”
She describes the difficulties involved for researchers who are unaffiliated with pharmaceutical sexual research with several examples. More often than not, such research cannot be funded because those performing such studies often are viewed suspiciously by the public and grant reviewers alike as having some hidden, and possibly perverse, motivation.
With admittedly few scientific facts and unapologetic and unembarrassed honesty, I would go so far as to suggest that this book be given to teenagers to debunk common misconceptions. Bonk may have made my travels through young adulthood a less-confusing journey.
In my opinion, there’s only so much that teachers in the classroom or parents in a one-on-one sit-down can accomplish with jaded teens. More knowledge equals more self-confidence and better decisions. Plus, the upside is that the read is actually pretty funny.
Despite my praise of Mary Roach’s Bonk, I will ask you to take notice: Bonk is not for the faint of heart.