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July 5, 2011

Book report #2

Cover of The Girl Who Played With FireThat two-week vacation at Kelleys Island got me reading books again, something I have no time for during the school year. Since I'd enjoyed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo I was anxious to start the second book in the Stieg Larsson trilogy, The Girl Who Played with Fire.

Quick review: disappointing. The central story about a journalist and an academic writing a book on sex trafficking in Sweden, wasn't nearly as intriguing as the missing girl in the first book. The relationship of the two main characters, conducted via email for most of the book, never really went anywhere and ended with a cliff-hanger obviously leading to a third book. Not sure if I'll bother with that one.

On the other hand, Amazon.com reviewers rate this book higher than the first (four stars vs. three-and-a-half). The final book, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, goes up to four-and-a-half stars.

Sex & science

Cover of Bonk, by Mary RoachHard to miss with a combination like that. You can read about all that juicy nasty and oh-so-interesting stuff yet feel like you're improving your mind. Best of all, Mary Roach is a very funny writer, hinted at by the book's title, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex.

Roach writes with tongue firmly in cheek: "Dating the penis-cam" is the chapter about the apparatus Masters and Johnson used in their study of female orgasm. She sadly couldn't track down a photo of what she later called the "mechanical dick," but it wasn't for lack of trying.

Overall this is a pretty decent history of the often frowned-upon research subject of human sexuality. She writes—not surprisingly—from a woman's perspective, which I find very interesting. I think that most male writers would have a tough time striking the same balance between humor, history and social commentary.

So: amusing, interesting, informative... not surprising that Amazon reviewers give Bonk four and half stars. I'd give it five.

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