Why Is the Penis … ?
Jesse Bering’s book “Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That?: And Other Reflections on Being Human”
Why do testicles hang the way they do? Is there an adaptive function to the female orgasm? What does it feel like to want to kill yourself? Does “free will” really exist? And why is the penis shaped like that anyway?
In Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That?, the research psychologist and award-winning columnist Jesse Bering features more than thirty of his most popular essays from Scientific American and Slate, as well as two new pieces, that take readers on a bold and captivating journey through some of the most taboo issues related to evolution and human behavior.
Exploring the history of cannibalism, the neurology of people who are sexually attracted to animals, the evolution of human body fluids, the science of homosexuality, and serious questions about life and death, Bering astutely covers a generous expanse of our kaleidoscope of quirks and origins. With his characteristic irreverence and trademark cheekiness, Bering leaves no topic unturned or curiosity unexamined, and he does it all with an audaciously original voice. Whether you’re interested in the psychological history behind the many facets of sexual desire or the evolutionary patterns that have dictated our current mystique and phallic physique, Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That? is bound to create lively discussion and debate for years to come.
“If David Sedaris were an experimental psychologist, he’d be writing essays very much like these. Bering’s unique blend of scientific knowledge, sense of humor, intellectual courage, and pure literary skill is immediately recognizable; no one writes quite the way Bering does. Read this book. You’ll learn, laugh, and then learn some more.”Christopher Ryan, co-author of the New York Times bestseller Sex at Dawn
“Brainy and hilarious, and at a time when federal funding for sexuality research is at stake, Bering makes the case that sex is a deeply crucial aspect of science and humanity for us to understand. Maybe someone should send Bering’s collection of essays to some of our more prudish Congress members who don’t believe the science of sex and gender should be studied.”—The Advocate
“Bering has an uncanny way with words, an incisive capacity for logical thinking, and a stunning talent for breathing new life and enthusiasm into science.” —Gordon Gallup
“Jesse Bering is the Hunter S. Thompson of science writing, and he is a delight to read—funny, smart, and madly provocative.”—Paul Bloom, Professor, Yale University, and author of How Pleasure Works
“This book could fuel a score of dinner-party conversations, not just for the daring of its did-you-knows, but for its cheeky sounding of their evolutionary explanations and moral implications. More than some scientific stocking-filler: it uses science to unsettle our most embedded assumptions. It is deeply thought-provoking as well as shallowly provocative.”—The Sunday Times
“[Bering] delivers. Many fun theories … equal parts sedulous and silly … truly does leave few stones unturned.”—New York Observer
“You must buy [Bering’s book] to be both entertained and the life and soul of cocktail parties from now ‘til the end of the world.” —Jezebel
“Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That?: And Other Reflections on Being Human is excellent in its entirety, woven of Bering’s rare tapestry of scientific rigor and a powerful, articulate social point of view.”—Maria Popova, Brain Pickings
“[Bering] tackles touchy subjects with aplomb and humor in this snappy compilation of essays … an accessible, lively, thought-provoking book for anyone curious about what it means to be human.” —Kirkus
“Erudite” … “remarkable” … “consistently rich and engaging … I have yet to come away from reading one of [Bering’s] essays and not feel considerably better informed than I was just minutes before.” —Forbes
“Jesse Bering is the Michael Pollan of boners; he’s read up, studied up, sought out, asked around and second-guessed all of the available research, but remains wise enough to know there’s a lot we still don’t know about human sexuality. The joy ofWhy Is the Penis Shaped Like That? comes as much from the questions it raises as the answers it provides. And Bering’s fearless curiosity (and affinity for juicy tidbits) has led him to some interesting places in this collection of essays. Bering’s got a place in his heart for hard science and nerdspeak. But he’s also a funny dude.”—emusic.com
“If it doesn’t shake your view of the human body, or radically disturb you, ‘Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That?” will at least have you howling with ape laughter.” —Newcity.com
“33 irreverent but informative chapters, Bering answers risqué questions covering everything from fetishes to masturbation to homosexuality, the mysteries of pubic hair, cannibalism, and suicides, describing what it actually feels like to want to kill oneself. While remaining strictly true to the scientific facts of any given issue, Bering keeps readers on their toes with his signature salacious quips and stray, juicy peeks at his personal life.”—Booklist
“… part of the fun of reading the book is what happens when you whip it out in public: everyone from my brother to my mother to total strangers grabbed it out of my hands, all giggling like fifth graders in Sex Ed as they flipped through the pages.” —Bookforum
“A collection of essays combining science and storytelling, with just enough smut to keep the pages turning at a furious rate. [Bering’s] writing is intelligent and sharp-witted, but also incredibly personal, at times bordering on the confessional. This style is effective at guiding the reader through a world considered by many taboo.”—New Scientist
“Continuously, he encourages us to step outside our sheltered minds and to get thinking about the boundaries of human sexuality.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Even skeptics of evolutionary psychology will find much to appreciate in this collection. With a frank, funny, and open-minded approach, [Bering] asks burning questions: Why do we grow pubic hair? Can a person have a genuine sexual preference for animals? If nothing else, they make great cocktail-party icebreakers: ‘So, did you know semen might have antidepressant qualities?’”—Mother Jones
“Written with a deep understanding of the subjects of human sexuality and the history of human behaviour, this fascinating and engaging book celebrates and rewards the curious mind. It is both funny and thought provoking.”—Hares & Hyenas Bookshop
“Utterly fascinating … research supported by personal anecdotes and laugh-out-loud humor make for an overall entertaining, as well as educational, read … if you are interested in the scientific reason for pubic hair or any number of other parts of us that most people never talk about (and who wouldn’t be?), this is the perfect book. Fun, engrossing, and downright enjoyable, Bering has written a winner.”—Bookshelf Bombshells
“Nothing sacred is spared in Jesse Bering’s deft, rivetingly informative and relentlessly hilarious new book. Bering’s addictive curiosity and wry, dexterous humor makes this a collection that’s as funny as it is impossible to put down.” —Violet Blue, tinynibbles.com
“Jesse Bering is the intellectual spawn of Helen Fisher and Oliver Sacks, and Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That? is brainy, informative, compassionate – and hilariously naughty.” —Amy Dickinson, New York Times bestselling author, syndicated advice columnist and NPR personality.
“These entertaining essays offer a cornucopia of ideas that will reward readers with hours of conversational gambits.” —Publisher’s Weekly
“If you’re hankering to learn more about the human body’s naughty bits, psychologist Jesse Bering’s book should be right up your alley. Even if you’re not obsessed with the shape of sex organs or the evolution of body fluids, you’ll find lots of facts to fascinate you, or maybe infuriate you, in this compilation of essays.”—msnbc.com
“Leaves no topic off the table for consideration. Anyone interested in reading about the latest developments in sex research told with a generous dose of self-deprecating humor will enjoy this essay collection.” —Library Journal
“[Bering] doesn’t hide behind psychobabble, yet he grounds his conclusions in research. The jokes come fast and readers will find themselves thoroughly entertained by his cheekiness, but he doesn’t leer over the juicy details. Instead, his candid approach succeeds in putting even the most bashful at ease.”—Willamette Weekly
“Bering is often saucy and occasionally salacious but always factual – his prose is irresistibly irreverent, but he’s a writer who reveres scientific rigor. He’s also quite openly queer. Overall, his “reflections on being human” are unabashedly filtered through a personal, personable gay voice.”—PrideSource