“Roll over, Kinsey. Mary Roach has done it again. Like Stiff, her improbable page-turner about cadavers, Bonk proves that full-bodied research can be riveting.”


A Cock ‘s Tour of the science of shagging Mary Roach is clearly a natural, possibly even obsessive researcher and here she has turned her gaze upon the scientific exploration of human sexual behaviour.

Almost no stone is unturned as she examines the work of Alfred Kinsey, Masters and Johnson, the design of “artificial coition machines” and penis cameras.

The book is very much a random walk that takes us past scientists’ probings into the physiology of the clitoris and penis, considering their investigations into the orgasm and research towards cures for male and female sexual dysfunctions.

Along the way, we learn rather more than we would have wished about how Danish pig farmers stimulate their livestock, what Kinsey used his toothbrush for (no, not for brushing his teeth (or, at least, I hope not)) and the distance that the average man can project his seed (I just feel sorry for the cleaning lady at that laboratory). The book is a fascinating one, absorbing and.. errr stimulating. Actually, that was a harmless pun, nothing here can really be described as, in any way, “titillating”.

Indeed it is astonishing just how straight faced were the scientists described in the book. Interestingly, Roach even took the opportunity to participate in a couple of scientific scenarios and the book is quite rightly dedicated to her long suffering husband.

Roach is not so straight faced herself and she injects a fair dose of her own humour into the account. While it adds to the enjoyment of the book, I did feel it went a little too far in places. Nevertheless, she doesn’t lose sight of the serious aspect of the subject and she never steps beyond the boundaries of good taste.

This is a great read although you might want to steer clear if you are particularly prudish.


Reviewed by:

Campbell McAulay

Added 8th May 2016

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Campbell McAulay