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review 2017-06-26 18:16
Bonk / Mary Roach
Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex - Mary Roach

The study of sexual physiology - what happens, and why, and how to make it happen better - has been a paying career or a diverting sideline for scientists as far-ranging as Leonardo da Vinci and James Watson. The research has taken place behind the closed doors of laboratories, brothels, MRI centers, pig farms, sex-toy R&D labs, and Alfred Kinsey's attic.

Mary Roach, "the funniest science writer in the country" (Burkhard Bilger of 'The New Yorker'), devoted the past two years to stepping behind those doors. Can a person think herself to orgasm? Can a dead man get an erection? Is vaginal orgasm a myth? Why doesn't Viagra help women or, for that matter, pandas?

In 'Bonk', Roach shows us how and why sexual arousal and orgasm, two of the most complex, delightful, and amazing scientific phenomena on earth, can be so hard to achieve and what science is doing to slowly make the bedroom a more satisfying place.

 

Mary Roach, as usual, is drawn to the weird and the wonderful. I love her sense of humour about whatever her current obsession happens to be. A book about sex research could be dry and boring, but not with Ms. Roach at the helm.

Male readers may cringe at several of the chapters regarding surgery on the family jewels—it made me a little queasy. I am also amazed that she managed to drag her husband along to participate in research projects with her. He is obviously a guy with a sense of adventure!

Sex researchers, both animal and human, were good sports to show off their work in progress or discuss published results. As stated a couple of time in the book, publicity can sometimes be a hindrance to obtaining research money, so they were either very established researchers or willing to risk the exposure.

We’re all interested in the topic, but few of us have the time or inclination to track down these great stories! Thank you, Mary Roach, for being the obsessive researcher for us.

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review 2017-06-22 22:16
Love is Love
Love is Love - Phil Jimenez,Various

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review 2017-06-19 08:27
Origins of Totalitarianism
The Origins of Totalitarianism - Hannah Arendt

This wasn't what I'd hoped it would be, but I think the fault was probably my expectations rather than the book itself. I'm not much for philosophy; I much prefer history. I was hoping for a thorough, fact-driven analysis of the various totalitarian regimes throughout history, determining key characteristics and similarities. Instead, it's a philosophical treatise on Arendt's view of how the Jews became the scapegoats and how Nazi Germany gained power. Fully one-third of the book is taken up with Arendt's analysis of the rise of antisemitism in Europe. The rest involves grandiose oft-repeated axioms based entirely on Nazi Germany. It talks about the importance of a key central figure and an isolating ideology that includes a sense of exceptionalism, etc, etc, but I can't say I feel much more enlightened now that I've finally (finally!) finished it. And maybe there's a stylistic thing, too-- to me, it felt like her grand assertions were stated over and over, and despite the book's length, there was precious little hard evidence to back them up.

The most intriguing part of the story isn't even told in this book: for all of her stony detachment when talking about antisemitism and Hitler and the rise of the Nazis, Arendt was herself a German Jew who escaped to America. I think I would have found her philosophizing far more powerful if she'd allowed a bit of the human element to seep through.

All in all, while I'm relieved to have finished it, I'm glad I picked it up in the first place. While I found it a dry read, it was still an interesting one, such as her comparison of authoritarian and totalitarian regimes and her assertion that autocratic regimes seek to repress opposition while the core goal of totalitarian regimes is domination and control. While it wasn't a great fit for me, I'm sure it's a phenomenal book if you're a fan of philosophy and have an attention span that's a mile longer than mine.
 

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review 2017-06-19 08:26
Foundations of Drawing
Foundations of Drawing: A Practical Guide to Art History, Tools, Techniques, and Styles - Al Gury

I picked up Foundations of Drawing because I've always enjoyed casual doodling and am always interested in opportunites to improve my techniques. Foundations is a gorgeous book, with carefully chosen illustrations at least every other page. However, don't go into the book looking to learn basic drawing skills or improve your techniques. At its core, I think this is more of an art history/ art appreciation book. Only the last twenty pages or so, which are very high-level "walkthroughs" of still lives, portraits, figure studies, etc, were much in the direction of artistic instruction. The majority of the book delves deeply into the history of different materials and techniques as well as discussing various artistic schools and styles. While I didn't really learn anything to improve my art, I did learn a lot, from new artistic terms such as sfumato to the effects of different papers and brush materials. If you're interested in the history and logistics of art, or if you want a coffee table book full of gorgeous and thoughtfully-chosen artwork, then Foundations of Drawing may be worth a look.

~~I received an advanced reader copy of this ebook from the publisher, Ten Speed Press, in exchange for my honest review.~~

Cross-posted on Goodreads.
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review 2017-06-12 05:47
Modern Romance
Modern Romance - Aziz Ansari,Eric Klinenberg

This book was fine, and interesting but I listened to it on audio and really just didn’t enjoy Ansari’s narration, this may have been in part because I listened to it at 1.6 and I think he got extra chipmunky. Also nothing in this book was actually that new or surprising to me thought maybe that’s because I’ve watched my friends go through dating in the modern world. Personally I’m just glad that I’m one of the few people now a days who met her spouse through work and didn’t have to deal with all the stress of online/tech based dating.

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