bonk: the curious coupling of sex and science
Allen Lane 2008
I have by now accumulated a nice little collection of books about the science of love and sex -- of course for serious research only. On that shelf, “bonk” is by far the most entertaining book I’ve come across. Not worrying too much about love and all the emotional baggage that we humans connect with it, Roach goes, chimp-like, straight to the hard core of the matter.
Which of course is a very tricky thing to do for somebody writing in English, the language of puritanism and all kinds of post Victorian hang-ups around human sexuality. Notwithstanding, Roach attacks the matter fearlessly and head-on, using her fine sense of humour to overcome any embarrassment she or some of her readers may be feeling.
The book is mainly about how scientists manage to survive in a field that suffers enormously from the above-mentioned hang-ups and prudishness and is therefore still the most under-developed part of human biology (remember that a large part of the clitoris was only discovered a few years ago!). One doesn’t get much of an overview of what is known about love and sex (for this, the book “Lust and love: is it more than chemistry?”, which I translated, works better, even if I say so myself), but one does get a good sense of the challenges -- resulting from nature, methodology, and from the weird attitude our society has towards the most natural of all inter-human activities -- and how the very small number of researchers in the field are facing them. As a bonus, one gets to LOL a lot.