Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach is a fun exploration of sex from a scientific view. The emphasis is more on entertainment than on science, but you do manage to learn quite a bit along the way. You know you’re in for some grins when you have chapter titles such as “Mind Over Vagina” and “Dating the Penis-Camera.”
There are some parts of the book that may make you cringe, especially if you are a man. If you’re particularly squeamish about things like penises getting operated on and chopped off (and perhaps eaten by ducks) I’d advise skipping the “Re-Member Me” chapter. With apologies to all males, I have to admit that I laughed when reading, “The paper does not provide the exact number of penises eaten by ducks, but the author says there have been enough over the years to prompt the coining of a popular saying: ‘I better get home or the ducks will have something to eat.'”
The most amusing part of the book to me was the description in “The Upsuck Chronicles” chapter of the Danish pig-farmers. A study has shown that fertility is increased in artificially inseminated pigs when they are, well, let’s just say happy pigs. So these dour pig-farmers are taught how to sexually stimulate the pigs. There is even a government backed “Five Point Stimulation Plan” complete with DVD.
Reading about the early experiments in human sexuality was very interesting. I knew a little bit about Kinsey and Masters & Johnson, but nothing beyond that. We really owe a debt to all those brave pioneers, even if they weren’t always very successful. It’s certainly not an easy field to do research in and it’s even harder to get funding.
I’d recommend the New York Times bestseller Bonk as an amusing read that will teach you about the science of sex.