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Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex (2008)

de Mary Roach

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3,7222032,580 (3.82)290
Roach shows how and why sexual arousal and orgasm can be so hard to achieve and what science is doing to make the bedroom a more satisfying place.
Adicionado recentemente porbiblioteca privada, Hillside_Grove, tigerinacircle, libraryghost97, Aliannmarie, LeBleuUn, Mmeyer23, EDK916
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Mostrando 1-5 de 203 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
I am so so very far behind on my GoodReads reviews, so the next three may be a bit shorter than usual.

I was reading this book at the same time that I was reading Lavardia, picking up once I'd finished a section of my own book so that I wouldn't muddle the separate parts together. I was never quite sure how to hold it on the subway: If I rested the bottom of the spine on my briefcase, everyone could see the title--not too bad, except that it left the actual pages wide open for the people next to me to see. I'm not usually aware of people reading over my shoulders (something that I'll admit I'm occasionally guilty of doing) but I caught a lot of people at it.

I'm sure at a quick glace the book must seem shocking, but really it's not. For those of you who ignore subtitles, this really is about the science of sex, not tips or really even culture--the false concept of virginity, for example, isn't discussed.

But don't let the science scare you off! This book was hilarious--I don't think I've laughed so much while reading since the firt time I read [b:Good Omens|12067|Good Omens The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch|Terry Pratchett|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1392528568s/12067.jpg|4110990]! Mary Roach is a delight tso read, bringing you along for the ride the whole way. Well, all right, she leaves enough distance that I don't feel creepy reading about the time she convinced her husband to join her for closely-monitored sex in a lab, but that's kind of the point: you feel close to her the whole way. Where Erik Larson is the master of the timeline, Mary Roach is the master of the anecdote.

That blessing is sort of simultaneously my only complaint about the book, which is the same one that I had for [b:Stiff|32145|Stiff The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers|Mary Roach|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347656489s/32145.jpg|1188203]: there isn't really an ultimate end goal, nothing to drive the narrative forward. I never felt frustrated about having to put the book down when my subway stop came up, but I also loved every page. That's actually pretty impressive, when I think about it!

I would actually recommend this book for young teenagers as well as adults. I feel like I was so uninformed about sex and sexuality--not maliciously, just because it was a big taboo or it just didn't come up (because I wasn't thinking about it that much--demisexual and all that). If formal sex ed isn't going to continue through high school, or even into college, kids should get to read books like this so that they know what's going on down there, so they can be fully informed when they decide (or not) to start exploring. Roach's approach is friendly and funny and informative, even if it's more science than culture and feeling--but that's kind of refreshing in a world so saturated with sex as an abstract concept.


Quote Roundup

**In case you missed the fact that this book is about sex, well, now you're informed. If you're not interested in reading about sex, stop now.**

24) It might be tempting to dismiss Dickinson as an iconoclastic pervert, but nothing could be further from the truth. He simply believed that lame sex destroyed more marriages than did anything else, and that "considering the inveterate marriage habit of the race," something ought to be done. It was Dickinson who ushered the clitoris into the spotlight.
Three cheers for...wait...is that seriously his name? (This book will keep your mind in the gutter for the duration, but it's kind of a fun gutter to be in.)

29) Two things. First: I love that Goldschmidt's wife is Subject 69 (see above). Second: Derogatis estimates 11,250 sex-related deaths in the United States each year, putting it on par with hepatitis C, brain cancer, and food poisoning. So you thrill seekers can get a few extra kicks knowing frisky is risky.

37) By "homosexuals," he means men. "We were unable to obtain any lesbians," Pomeroy says, as though perhaps they hadn't been in season, or his paperwork wasn't in order.
I love Mary Roach!

78-79) The fifties were not the twenties. ... American manhood would not abide the sexually sophisticated (i.e., demanding) woman, and it fought back hard. Among the more vocal vaginal [orgasm] crusaders was Arnold Kegel, inventor of the eponymous pelvic squeezing exercises. ... The backlash against Kinsey and the general tide of conservatism turned the passive, vaginal orgasm into the holy grail of female sexuality, "the hallmark...of a well-adjusted and normal femininity."
This whole section infuriated me. I guess I'd just assumed that the vaginal orgasm had been the ideal of patriarchal societies for thousands of years. The fact that there had actually been knowledge and encouragement of female sexual pleasure before that is just extra disgusting, especially considering that it's yet another group of men deciding how sex between a man and a woman should work when they only know half the story.

113) My organization balked. It called its husband. "You know how you were saying you haven't been to Europe in twenty-five years?"
I loved this chapter because of how much Mary Roach was in it herself, and I think her writing is especially good when she's writing about her own experiences. This section in the third person struck me as particularly hilarious, for some reason.

115) ...the medieval believe that breast milk was formed from (gack!) diverted menstrual blood.
I'm totally with Roach on that one--gross! Who even came up with that idea?

142) I love the postage stamp test and any boyfriend I may have in the future should probably be aware that I may ask him to try it out just for fun.

149) To produce an ejaculate with optimum potential for fertilization, Levin recommends a holding time of five days.
So now you know.

187) In the 1970s, there was a spate of vehusngeful wives cutting off their adulterous husbands' penises. In rural areas, men hoping to reattach their members had to rescue them from hungry pigs...and ducks. The paper does not provide the exact number of penises eaten by ducks but the author says that there have been enough over the years to prompt the coining of the coining of a popular saying: "I better get home or the ducks will have something to eat."

197) I can recall, many years ago, being told that a clitoris is a vestigial penis. The feminist in me, who is small and sleeps a lot but can be scrappy when provoked took umbrage at this description.
And this feminist took umbrage at how easily the author accepted this without walking us through at least a couple other theories. This New York Times article covers a few.

209) She reminded me of what happened to the last person who got involved with masturbation as a beneficial activity: Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders. Former President Bill Clinton dismissed Elders after she suggested, in a World AIDS Day speech, that masturbation was something that "should perhaps be taught."
I'm with Elders--it's doesn't seem difficult for those with penises to figure out what to do with them, but clitorises and vaginas can be a bit intimidating when you can't even see them with out some effort and a mirror.

252) If it's any solace, even female rats have trouble focusing. I give you a sentence, my favorite sentence in the entire oeuvre of Alfred Kinsey, from Sexual Behavior in the Human Female: "Cheese crumbs spread in front of a copulating pair of rats may distract the female, but not the male."
Here's a theory: Since the woman-on-top position is better at producing orgasms in women, I posit that this was how our ancient ancestors got down. The female could be aware of approaching predators and react in time to escape with, hopefully, the makings of the next generation. The male became the meal to allow the female time to escape. Yep, that's totally how it happened.

290) Michael's sex-pheromone work got tremendous media coverage nonetheless, which is unfortunate, as it sent our understanding of female hormones and female sexual behavior way off down the wrong boulevard. It implied that when it came to sex, the female primate was a passive receptacle with no drive or interest of her own.
Alack! ( )
  books-n-pickles | Oct 29, 2021 |
Fun and humorous. ( )
  auldhouse | Sep 30, 2021 |
This is my third look throught the skewed, yet fascinating and funny lens of Mary Roach. First, it was cadavers, then it was ghosts. This time, it was sex and the organs used for it.

This one was just as amusing as the previous two, but it had a lot more cringe-worthy moments. Seriously, when I'm walking the dog, listening to this audiobook, and it gets to a point where a doctor is removing the skin of a penis like a glove, and I get an involuntary reaction that involves one of my legs swinging forward and inward to protect my own crotch while the upper half of my body folds over the lower half, it must make for interesting people watching for anyone happening to glance in my direction. God knows my dog looked at me funny.

Roach is the best sort of investigative journalist, as far as I'm concerned. She delves into areas you never expected, or were blissfully unaware of (though, with this book in particular, there's times I wish I could go back to blissful ignorance), she has a wry sense of humour as she reports her findings, she's not scared to put herself into experiments to be better able to report, and finally, she also knows when to leave us wanting more.

All to say, while this was likely her toughest book to read so far, I still enjoyed the hell out of it.
  TobinElliott | Sep 3, 2021 |
This is a breezy, funny overview of the science of sex. Possibly a little too light, if you think about it. The author is nothing if not determined to go the distance, as it were, with providing info for you. A visit to a penile surgeon in Taiwan? Trying to get in touch with Virginia Johnson? She does it.

This book will provide you with many amusing anecdotes to share at dinner parties, such as "the volume of pig ejaculate is over 200ml." Possibly this is why I am not invited to dinner parties. ( )
  arosoff | Jul 11, 2021 |
Mary Roach has a knack for distilling complicated scientific topics into prose that the general reader can understand. She does it with her own sense of curiosity and humor, which makes the learning fun. Previously, I’ve chortled my way through books that examined the afterlife for human cadavers (2003’s Stiff), and human spirits (2005’s Spooks), space exploration (2010’s Packing for Mars), the digestive system (2013’s Gulp), and the military (2016’s Grunt). Somehow I had missed reading her second book, Bonk (2008), although not from a sense of squeamishness about the subject. Or at least, not my squeamishness; for a long time it was the only Mary Roach book my local library did not have on the shelves.

Happily, that was no longer the case when I checked the ebook catalog earlier this year, and I was quick to add myself to the holds list. I can report that the expected mix of knowledge and good humor were present in the usual abundance for a Roach production, even as the subject once again would not seem to lend itself to jocularity. Sure, people take death and war seriously, but sex occupies a particularly fraught place, at least in modern American culture. For proof, you’ve only to look at the fact that a movie is much more likely to receive an R rating for showing a woman’s bare breasts than for showing crowds of people getting mown down with an automatic rifle.

The idea of studying sex as a scientific topic, in a lab with experiments involving real people, seems particularly fascinating. Roach provides a good overview of the difficulty in quantitatively measuring something whose most notable effects seem psychological rather than physiological. And that’s not even to get into the aversion of funders in providing money to study such a ticklish subject (no pun intended). Roach’s interest was piqued years ago when she stumbled on a medical journal article about a 1980s UCLA study that measured human sexual response. One group of men were asked to manipulate “the more usual suspect” during the experiment, while the control group was asked to rub their kneecaps at measured intervals:

Requesting that a study subject twiddle his knees is not immoral or indecent, but it is very hard to explain. And even harder to fund. Who sponsors these studies, I wondered. Who volunteers for them?

One of my favorite features of Roach’s work is how she cheerfully submits herself to observing and sometimes participating in the scientific research, the better to understand and explain it to her readers. And Bonk is no exception, although I’ll leave it to you to discover exactly how she accomplishes it. (All I’ll say here is her husband Ed must be a singularly good-natured and accommodating spouse.)

I can’t say Bonk is my favorite Mary Roach book (that’s a tie between Gulp and Stiff), but it was an enjoyable romp through the laboratories of sexuality. ( )
  rosalita | Jul 8, 2021 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 203 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Ms. Roach does, however, clutter “Bonk” with so many long, chatty footnotes that she underscores how spotty and disorganized her material is
 
Surprisingly fun & informative, best when enjoyed with friends/spouse/significant other
 

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Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Roach, Maryautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Burr, SandraNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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A man sits in a room, manipulating his kneecaps.
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The first prize must go to the Deodorizing and Sound-Muffling Anal Pad. The patent's background material details the sad decline of the human anal sphincter muscle, whose gripping capacity fades as we age. The absorbing Layer is said to "trap the sound of a flatus," as though one might later drive it to a less populated area and release it.
There are also inflatable, rather than malleable, penile implants. Here you don't bend the penis, you pump it up. The surgeon implants a small bladder of saline or air above the pubic bone. This gets pumped into the implant by means of a hollow, squeezable bulb implanted in the scrotum and attached to the prothesis by a plastic tube. Inflatables are more popular because—unlike a malleable implant—they enlarge the girth of a penis, as would happen in an unaided erection. To many men, it seems more natural—except, of course, for the scrotum-squeezing aspect of the event
This book is a tribute to the men and women who dared. Who, to this day, endure ignorance, closed minds, righteousness, and prudery. Their lives are not easy. But their cocktail parties are the best.
Cheese crumbs spread in front of a copulating pair of rats may distract the female, but not the male.
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Roach shows how and why sexual arousal and orgasm can be so hard to achieve and what science is doing to make the bedroom a more satisfying place.

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