Whoops, somehow I blinked and the beginning of April flew by—so I’m now about two weeks late writing up my thoughts on Bonk: the Banging Book Club pick for last month. But I’m not going to just let that one slide—because Bonk was actually a very interesting book.
Here are all the thoughts I had while I was actually reading it:
I usually read nonfiction that takes more of a political stance, so Bonk was a little frustrating in that sense: the science was fascinating, but the author Mary Roach refused to draw any hard conclusions about what any of it means. That’s something the Banging Book Club girls picked up on too: I nodded along with Hannah Witton when she said she needed a big conclusion on “why the study of sex is really important for society, and this is what the human experience gains”.
So I definitely felt like something was missing—but everyone agreed that Roach’s strong narration and personality made the “sciencey” bits totally palatable.
The Banging Book Club girls said that they felt the book read like a collection of essays; because of the lack of conclusions, I felt more like it was a trivia book. Reading it on the train, I found myself constantly blurting out fascinating sex facts to my sister (probably to the disapproval of everyone around me). In their podcast, the Banging Book Club discuss a lot of the most interesting points, so if you don’t have time to read the whole thing, give it a listen!
But it wasn’t all fun and games: some of the sections were painful to read. I definitely didn’t need to know that much about boar semen and pig orgasms, and some sections were far too graphic; at some points I found myself actually crossing my legs and grimacing.
“OK, wow is there lots of stuff going into people’s urethras in this book… I found myself constantly looking down and going ‘Nope nope nope nope nope’.” — Ben, Goodreads
Overall, I didn’t love the book, but I did think it was fascinating, particularly as a conversation-starter with people who are more likely to discuss the cultural implications with me. I probably wouldn’t recommend it as a book to read start-to-finish, but I’d like having it on my bookshelf ready to refer to—or to whip out to impress people at dinner parties. (What, don’t you impress dinner dates by telling them how pigs mate?)