Summer Reading B2G1 Free

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores


Authors, readers, critics, media — and booksellers.


Everything They Ever Wanted to Know

People often ask me whether strange people come to my Bonk events and ask peculiar questions. Not often. The people who come to my events are mostly book people. They're smart and funny and extremely likable. I have the most wonderful readers in the world. Though it's possible I'm biased.

There have been a few peculiar questions. Someone in Boulder asked me whether research had been done on whether volunteerism led to more intense orgasms. Wha..? Another person wanted to know if it's true that the genitals of a certain Amazonian tribe are deep blue. I surely hope that they are. This morning someone called in to the radio show I was on to ask about parallels between human and cetacean (dolphins and whales) sex. It was a bad connection, and I couldn't tell what exactly he was getting at. The program host encouraged me to talk about Alfred Shadle, whom I mention in the first chapter of Bonk, and who had studied the sexual habits of, among other small woodland creatures, the porcupine. So that's what I talked about. Somewhere out there, there's an irritated radio listener. Goddam NPR people. You call about dolphin sex, and they talk about porcupines. Personally, I find the sex habits of porcupines pretty interesting. Want to know how they do it? What with the spines and all? The female flips her tail up over her back for the male to rest against.

Then again, to be fair, dolphin sex can be fairly diverting. Male dolphins have been seen having homosexual sex via one partner's blow-hole. You can verify this by going to your local library and checking out Biological Exuberance, a 400-plus page book, written by a biologist, cataloguing the hundreds of bird and mammal species to have been documented having homosexual sex. I actually learned about the dolphins by watching a bootleg copy of Ricky Gervais's U.K. comedy monologue "Animals." Gervais got hold of Biological Exuberance, and the result is some of the funniest comedy I've ever seen.

People are always asking me whether Bonk affected my sex life. There was a brief period of time, corresponding to the week I was reading Masters and Johnson's opus Human Sexual Response, when I sort of became a scientist in my own bedroom. M & J detailed everything that happens to the human body during arousal and orgasm, and you find yourself, when you read their book, watching out for these things in your own body. Is this the part where my earlobes swell? Is this the part where the vaginal barrel expands and the penis may feel "lost in the vagina"? Very distracting. But I'm fine now. Working on Bonk meant two years of talking and laughing about sex, and that's a good thing for anyone's sex life. Get a copy of Bonk (from the fabulous Powell's!) and read it to each other in bed and laugh. That's my self-serving Rx for better sex.

So the tour is finally winding down. Ed met me at the airport wearing a nametag: HELLO my name is Ed. In case I'd forgotten what he looked like. It's good to be home.

÷ ÷ ÷

Mary Roach is the author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers and Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife. Her writing has appeared in such publications as Salon, GQ, Vogue, and The New York Times Magazine. She lives in Oakland, California.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human...
    Used Trade Paper $6.95
  2. Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife
    Used Trade Paper $6.50
  3. Bonk: The Curious Coupling of...
    Used Hardcover $9.95
  4. Biological Exuberance: Animal... New Trade Paper $29.99

Mary Roach is the author of Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex

Post a comment:

Get Your Gravatar

  1. Please note:
  2. All comments require moderation by staff.
  3. Comments submitted on weekends might take until Monday to appear.
PowellsBooks.Blog uses Gravatar to allow you to personalize the icon that appears beside your name when you post. If you don't have one already, get your Gravatar today!
  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at