Wednesday, April 1, 2009

From Stiff to Spook to Bonk

Can a person think herself to orgasm? Can a dead man get an erection? Is vaginal orgasm a myth? Why doesn't Viagra help women -- or, for that matter, pandas? If you have been pondering these very questions with no help in sight, we've got just the answer for you. Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, by bestselling quirky-science writer (meaning she writes about quirky topics in science, not that she's quirky herself, but then again....) Mary Roach, has just been published in paperback. Roach is known for venturing out to the fringes of science and presenting her findings in writing that is illuminating and well-researched yet humorous and compulsively readable at the same time.

In previous books she has explored how cadavers decay (Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers) and whether you can weigh a person's soul (Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife). A.J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically had this to say about Bonk: "I would read Mary Roach on the history of Quonset huts. But Mary Roach on sex? That's a godsend! This book is -- if not better than the act itself -- then a hilarious and entertaining alternative."

Roach currently lives in Oakland, California, but she grew up in Etna, New Hampshire. This is what her Web site has to say about her background: "My dad was 65 when I was born. My neighbors taught me how to drive a Skidoo and shoot a rifle, though I never made much use of these skills. I graduated from Wesleyan in 1981, and drove out to San Francisco with some friends. I spent a few years working as a freelance copy editor before landing a half-time PR job at the SF Zoo. My office was in a trailer next to Gorilla World. On the days when I wasn't taking calls about elephant wart removal surgery or denying rumors that the cheetahs had been sucked dry by fleas, I wrote freelance articles for the local newspaper's Sunday magazine.... In 1996, my article on earthquake-proof bamboo houses took the Engineering Journalism Award in the general interest magazine category, for which I was, let's be honest, the only entrant. I often write about science, though I don't have a science degree and must fake my way through interviews with experts I can't understand.... I have no hobbies. I mostly just work on my books and hang out with my family and friends. I enjoy bird-watching--though the hours don't agree with me--backpacking, thrift stores, overseas supermarkets, Scrabble, mangoes, and that late-night "Animal Planet."

Here's a video of Ms. Roach discussing some of the topics she covers in Bonk:

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