We recently went on a Caribbean cruise, to escape (some of) the cold of January. I saw this book in the ship's library, and just had to check it out. Subtitled "The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex," this is a worthy follower to Roach's Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.
Mary Roach spent two years writing this book. The author and her husband even participated in some of the scientific studies described in the book - such as having sex in an MRI tube. On page 15, when she talks about the stigma of researching (and writing about) sex, she gives a nod to librarians for dealing with her embarrassing interlibrary loan requests.
It's full of amusing footnotes - which are really side note stories, sometimes not even really related to the main part of the chapter. Funny (mostly stock) photos begin each chapter - such as the man in a white lab coat, peeping through window blinds for chapter 1, which is on the pioneers of the study of human sexual response, such as Robert Latou Dickinson (who I'd never heard of before). Another appropriate photo is the "O" shape of a sparkler photographed being swung in a circle - for the chapter (11) on orgasms.
The book also has a 13-page bibliography, divided by chapter. It was published in 2008 - it would be interesting to read of any advances or new studies in some of the topics discussed.
Here are a few interesting quotes from the book. On page 248, she discusses the Female Sexual Psychophysiology Laboratory operated by Cindy Meston at the University of Texas in Austin, in the Sarah M. and Charles E. Seay Building. "So enthusiastic is the university about its new structure that at one point during construction, they set up a Seay Building Web cam, allowing interested parties to log on twenty-four hours a day and watch, literally, the paint dry." All I can say is that given what goes on in that lab now, I hope the web cameras are long gone!
And some interesting facts I learned - for example, on page 90, in a section about sex pheromones, I learned that vaginal odors are affected by onions, garlic, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, chili, curry, kale, sauerkraut, and pineapple. And on page 292-3, "In addition to the smell of cologne, the women were turned off by the scent of cherry and of 'charcoal barbeque meat.' At the top of the women's turn-on list was, mysteriously, a mixture of cucumber and Good 'n' Plenty candy." There's no accounting for taste, but I can't imagine being attracted to a guy who smelled like that.
© Amanda Pape - 2015
[This book was borrowed from and returned to the cruise ship library.]