Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Maps or Sex?

Up here in Bellevue, the outdoor swimming pool season is almost history, but some other parent-loungers and I managed to get in a last book discussion. Laura came over and checked out my David McCullough's THE GREAT BRIDGE and said, "I don't do books that have more maps than sex." Just FYI, if you've never read any McCullough (JOHN ADAMS, THE PATH BETWEEN THE SEAS, THE JOHNSTOWN FLOOD, etc.), his books always feature lots of maps and zero sex. And I love them. Find them gripping.

Not that sex books aren't gripping, in a bug-your-eyes-out, hide-it-if-the-kids-come-around kind of way. Another friend was reading MARKED, a YA vampire novel(surprise!) by a mother-daughter pair, and there was way more sex than maps in that one. To think I forbade my ten-year-old reading TWILIGHT until she was 10 1/2! (Wanted to make it 15, but had to cave when her older cousin read it at 10 1/2...) No MARKED for her until she's at least 25 or married. Whew! Clearly, some mothers and daughters are not only comfortable reading the stuff, they can even collaborate on dreaming up oral sex scenes. Call me uptight...

But how uptight can I be? Spent a couple hours yesterday reading and then skimming a book that was 100% sex and 0% maps, Mary Roach's BONK. Like her previous books, STIFF and SPOOK, there are some fascinating bits, some hilarious bits, and then lots to skim. For example:

Fascinating bit: Some 1932 researches studied what raises and lowers a person's heart rate and discovered that "'defecating' can briefly bring your heart rate down by eight beats per minute." Who knew? Forget yoga, folks. Just eat more fiber.

Hilarious bit: "Watson's fame, in no small part, derives from his willingness to study human behavior in a laboratory setting. Most of his subjects were children, most notably Little Albert (no relation to Fat), the eleven-month-old boy in whom he conditioned a fear of white rats."

FYI, Roach's book is not one you can leave lying around the house, and I was almost afraid to have it on my library checkout record. I am a pastor's wife, after all. But I can only read so much titillating, guilty-pleasure material before returning to my map books. There are no fake-penis cameras in McCullough, but the Brooklyn Bridge isn't without charm. Who knew that Washington Roebling, the engineer who headed up its construction, had something of a Forrest Gump career in the Civil War, johnny-on-the-spot at many key battles? For a New York and Civil War fan like me, this is delicious. Why read about how the Roeblings got their kids if we can talk about how WR got the bends, deep beneath the East River?

How about you? Maps or sex?


  1. Love McCullough! Read JOHN ADAMS, reading THE PATH BETWEEN THE SEAS, have THE BRIDGE on reserve at the library. Your blog is a stitch! But then, I knew that.