Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah


I heard about Trevor Noah, when it was announced by Comedy Central that Trevor Noah, who?, was going to replace Jon Stewart. Where did this guy come from. I watched a few of his comedy shows and saw that he was very funny. Then this book came out. The title was definitely catchy. A crime to be born into a mixed-race family! Where was this? When did this happen? That’s when I got hooked. I utterly enjoyed this book and highly recommend this book to anyone who don’t appreciate and understand racism, poverty, and how some part of the world lived. It would definitely make you appreciate what we’ve got in this country.

– Intro page before each chapter set the tone or foreword for the chapter. Nice style.
– The book started out with this story of his being thrown out of minibus as a 10+ year-old youngster by his mother because his mother saw the danger of being killed by the opposing tribes men. He survived and fall and ran – his key survival talent.
– Since he was born “illegally” because his mother’s desire to have her own family, he was frequently hidden from public eyes to avoid having to explain his fair skin.
– Ultimately you identify with the people surrounding you. He considers himself black because he’s surrounded by black family members. He told this hilarious story of his shitting inside the house as his blind great grandmother Koko “smelled” on. The outcome was simply outrageous when the family decided it was Satan’s work to leave the poop in the garbage can. He also told of the story of being a chameleon (white, black or colored) because he could speak a few dialects and English.
– He had many run-ins with troubles. One time he accidentally burned down a house by leaving a magnifying glass on a mattress where the sun came in. He’s a trouble maker since young age.
– Pets stories: Cats are perceived as witches. His first pet was gutted and hung when he came back one day due to the superstition of country men. Then he moved on dog. Fufi’s story: “you don’t own the thing you love.” He discovered in his young age that his Fufi was also owned by another family during time he was in school.
– Girls story: got dumped on Valentine’s day once, then he had a crush with this girl but he never told her his feeling then one day she’s moved out of the country. Then on Trevor’s prom night with Babiki, the most beautiful woman that he never had a conversation with and lastly found that they didn’t speak the same languages. Sad and funny!
– At some point he reconnected with his white father after a 10-year gap. He found that his father, Robert, kept track of his career all these years. Despite their lack of deep relationship, they kept a safe distance from each other to his dad’s liking as Robert was a very private man.
– Distinctions between colored, black and white. Chinese are treated as colored and Japanese are treated as white during apartheid. Apartheid encourage struggled between races.
– To survive the hood, he was a food dealer because he ran fast, sells pirated CD’s, bartering stolen things to make extra money. He learned the basic of business that way.
– Almost got caught stealing chocolate bar, instead his best friend, Teddy, was arrested. Despite the video recording, he was never picked out.
– Trevor’s adventure into CD pirating and DJ. “Go Hitler”chanting shocked the Jewish school.
– Very good observations on legal laws and parents’ rules: laws appear to be more rational than parents’ rules; parents server as the “judge, jury, and executioner for your entire childhood, and it feels like they give you a life sentence for every misdemeanor.” Noah’s one-week experience in the jail for driving his step-dad’s car without permission and getting stopped by police who mistook him as a carjacker. His experience in jail clearly highlight the tensions of races among the white, black and colored. Ironically, the “colored” gang’s reputation protected and confused him at the same time. He ended up sided with the “white” as they tend not to be hard criminals. Because of multi-lingual skill, he also managed to help this “hulk” guy in communication with the police. At the end, he was bailed out by his mother.
– Mother’s love really showed when said, ” “Everything I have ever done I’ve done from a place of love. If I don’t punish you, the world will punish you even worse. The world doesn’t love you. If the police get you, the police don’t love you. When I beat you, I’m trying to save you. When they beat you, they’re trying to kill you.” I’ve seen similar quotes from people who had a difficult childhood and turned out good. It really takes all a mother can give to not have the children gone astray and that’s mother’s love for you. After his mother had her second son, she wouldn’t use violence any more as Noah said, “relationships are not sustained by violence but by love. Love is a creative act. When you love someone you create a new world for them.”
– Being a “colored” person in South Africa could be very confusing. This quote of his spelled out his dilemma: ” Because racism exits, and you have to pick a side. You can say that you don’t pick sides, but eventually life will force you to pick a side.
– The last chapter was a heartbreaking story about his mother’s being subjected to the domestic violence of his step father, Abel, who turned into a tyrannical monster after quitting weed and started drinking himself to his failed car garage, despite the his skill and all the efforts of Noah’s mother to turn the business around.
– The first time his step father hit his mom was when his was 9 years old. He and his mother endured many more years of beating from Abel who at Noah’s 6th grade beat him violently because his faking his mother signature to avoid going to some classes. Noah was able to move out but his mother, Patricia was trapped with two sons from Abel.
– The tragic ending happened when Noah got a call from his little brother that Mom was shot by Abel. He rushed back to see his mother at the hospital and discovered miraculously that though she was shot in the head, the bullet missed all the critical organs, arteries, veins without causing too severe of a damage. During his hospital stay, he discovered that she didn’t have a the medical insurance. He was willing to pay the hospital bills but the discussion of “black tax” came up where the children couldn’t get out under the spell of the poverty because he had to pay for the sins or debts of the family. And the vicious cycle continues as they plunged into poverty themselves. There was another observation his made that mothers would offer the children unconditional love but not necessarily reciprocated by their children. I thought about it and agreed with him on that.

This was a great read for me to understand and appreciate the upbringing of a man born into a unfortunately circumstance (mixed-race family) in an odd country during the changing time of the country. There was pain, love, hate, crime, and drama all wrapped into this one man, now a successful comedian. What a story! I don’t think any fictional author could come up with a better story.

Book Review: “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth


I listened to the audiobook a couple of months ago. It’s so good to know scientifically that efforts or “grits” plays a bigger role in a person’s success than talents. In this book, Angela Duckworth showed that through research, observations, and convincing evidences that the right approaches to raising a successful kid is to raise their “grit.” I think I had concluded long time ago that effort or “grit” plays a bigger factor than talent but it’s definitely easier when you’ve got talents and being modest about it by applying extra effort to be successful.

The book basically started out showing you what grit is and why it matters (Part I). Then the author shows you how to grow grits from inside out through interest, practice, purpose and hope. Next she shows you how to grow grit from outside in via parenting for grit, playing fields, and culture.

This is a very informative book for those who want to succeed and want their loved ones to succeed in life.

Short Summary:

Part I: What grit is and why it matters
By author’s definition, to possess grit is to have two characteristics: 1) unusually resilient and hardworking (perseverance), 2) know in a deep way what they wanted (passion). The author chose as examples the West Point cadets training and success rate, spelling bees contest, and his growing up and career choices (management consultant to inner city middle-/high-school teacher to being a psychology researcher. Can talents be distracting? Yes, because it came too easy for them. The author came up with an equation: talent x effort = skill, skill x effort = achievement, this means that talent x effort^2 = achievement. Might want to try the treadmill test.

How to grow more grit? It takes both nature (genes) and nurture (experience). The Flynn effect explains why as a species, we’re getting bettery in abstract reasoning. All of us are getting smarter (higher IQ) due to the social influence. To grow grit, you need to first have an interest, then practice, purpose, and finally hope. More on the four in Part II.

Part II: Growing grit from the inside out
Interest: “Passion for your work is a little bit of discovery, followed by a lot of development, and then a lifetime of deepening.” Interests are NOT discovered through introspection but are triggered by interactions with the outside world, supported and encouraged by your loved ones, teachers or peers. “Sample” your interests first like an athletes before focusing on one or two interests. The author cited several stories including those of Jeff Bezo’s upbringing, Will Shortz, the crossword puzzle master. Follow your passion but it’s helpful to understand how passions are fostered – keep on experimenting.

Practice: “Continuous improvement” or Kaisen is the key to practice – look forward and grow. The average of 10K hours over 10 years seems to be the norm to be a world expert. It takes “deliberate practice” according to Ericsson’s research 1) set a stretch goal, 2) full concentration and effort, 3) immediate and informative feedback, 4) repetition with reflection and refinement.
To get to the “flow” experience durin performance, you must have sufficient “deliberate-practices” behavior in preparation.

Purpose: defined as the intention to contribute the well-being of others. The more gritty you are, the more purpose-driven and less pleasure-driver you are. Do you have a job, or a career, or a calling? Keep asking yourself “Why? Why? Why?” It’s suggested that you reflect on how the work you’re already doing can make a positive contribution to society. Also do “job crafting” by thinking about how, in small but meaningful ways, you can change your current work to enhance its connection to your core values.” Lastly, find inspiration in a purposeful role model? In author’s case, it’s her mom.

Hope:: Taking a chapter from Carol Dweck’s Mindset book, learn the “growth” mindset rather than the “fixed” mindset. Having a feeling of control (or hope) in spite of difficulties at young age could help develop grit. Need to learn how to succeed as well as how to fail. Author recommends going from “growth mindset” to “optimistic self-talk” then to “perseverance over adversity.” Of course, having someone to encourage you goes a long way.

Part III: Growing grit form the outside in
Parenting for grit:: Ex-49er, Steve Young’s upbringing provides a grit example: his father taught him not to give up too easily in making the baseball and football team. “Endure to the end,” his father, Grit Young said. Be the wise parent: demanding and supportive. Commit to Hard Thing Rule: pick a hard thing and try to do your best.

Culture of Grit: Seattle Seahawks’ head coach, Peter Carroll builds a culture of grit.

Ted Talk:

Talks at Google:

Book Review: “A Girl with All the Gifts” by M. R. Carey


I heard of this book through a youtube channel that recommended this book highly. Little did I know that it’s been made to a movie. Then I went ahead and watched the movie half way through the book, which sort of spoiling the ending for me but I was hoping the book ending would differ from the movie, but no, it’s not as predictable as other books/movies when humans win back the world. The book was well written and in fairly good pace. Most of time, I thought I was watching/reading the “Walking Dead,” which I follow except the zombies or hungries were faster and meaner with a faster and more deadly consequence when infected – they turn immediately. Since we don’t know the ending of the Walking Dead, we cannot compare the endings.

I thought Justinau was a bit more aggressive than I expect a teacher to be. The two soldiers, Parks and Galagher were what they should be – courageous and masculine. Caldwell, the scientist, was dedicated to saving the humans and was willing to try any means, including cutting up children’s brains, to be the savior of man kind – very believable. Melanie, was portrayed as a smart kid who learned from the best, loyal to people who’s kind to her but ultimately self-determined when she had to choose between humans and her kind. She had the gifts of being half humans and hungries and possessed the ability to switch back and forth.

There are subtle differences between the book and movie: 1) no “junkers” (human bandits) in the movie, probably because of the time limitation. 2) Ms. Justineau was nicer in the movie than in the book, probably because Dr. Caldwell, acted by Glenn Close, seemed meaner to be Justinau’s punch bag. 3) The grand tower of fungus climbed on a tall building instead of its own – probably better visual in the movie.

Overall, I enjoy and recommend the book and the movie; it’s a nice mental getaway from daily grind of work and escape from the weighty non-fiction books. Nothing like an apocalyptic book can put you in proper perspectives.

Here’s a quick review of the book and the movie. Be aware that the review will spoil/reveal the ending. You might want to wait until you read the book or watch the movie. Also the author M. R. Carey had the foresight or privilege of writing the book and the movie script simultaneously. Very clever. The movie differs slightly from the book but mostly follow the book’s plot.

The book started with the imprisoned kids being strapped in wheel chairs during a class room really piqued my interest in the beginning. It gets more interesting or suspenseful when the zombie characteristic was revealed in those kids. This was where it reminded me of the “Walking Dead” or other zombie movie.

Melanie was the girl with all the “gifts.” What kind of gifts? You’ll discover along the way as story continues. The book was written in the present tense to enhance the suspense as if you are watching the story unfolds. Ms. Justineau was the teacher who’s teaching all these special kids, who could turn into monsters like the other “Hungries” who at this time most of the humans have become after being infected by the fungus of a funny name. However, these kids were special because they possessed most of the human characteristics until they smelled humans or living things, at which time the monster or the fungus-occupied brain would take over, attack and feed on all living things. To prevent them from “turning,” the humans had to put on e-blocker to prevent the human scents. The kids were stationed in a special research camp for Dr. Caldwell to research and cut/slice their brain cells for experimentation.

Then the camp got run over by hungries, leaving Justinau – the teacher, Caldwell – the scientist, Sargent Parks – the protector, Galagher – Park’s subordinate and of course Melanie. They ran from one place to another trying to get to Beacon, the headquarter of human intelligence. Along the way, they found Rosie, the special, mobile research truck that Caldwell use to work in. At this time, they encountered a bunch of kids like those in the camp, except they’re raw and uneducated. They attacked Rosie and ended up killing all humans because of Melanie’s scheme in tricking Parks into starting the flame of the grand tower, the mother of all fungus. In doing so, the spores from the hard pods were spread into the air and infected all humans, turning them into “hungries,” except for Justinau who would stay in the Rosie and teach the kids language and culture just like the beginning of the story. I don’t think she would last long in that truck, but that’s another story.

I was hoping that humans would make a comeback and retake the world but the ending ushered in the demise of humans and the beginning of new civilization when the fungus and human form would coexist, starting with these kids. Now, how they were going to propagate themselves, we don’t know or weren’t told. Maybe that’s for a sequel…

Book Review: “Unfinished Business” by Nora Roberts

I’m not much of a novel aficionados, but once a while I’d like to kick back and learn about how stories are told to help my narration skill, which is important for speeches and conversations.

Just finished the novel while on vacation in Southern California. It’s a good novel to read when you are on vacation, relaxed and bored without the stimulation of work and Internet. I’m not sure why this novel is so highly rated but I enjoyed it all the same. A graduating high-school girl got taken out of her comfort zone in a small fictitious small town, Hyattown, and became successful being a virtuoso pianist, thanks to her Dad’s direct control and command without her Mom next to her. She came back to see her Mom after her father died of cancer and re-acquainted with her first love, Brady Tucker. The story was about what she found out why her Mom didn’t connect with her all these years and how she handled her first love, Brady. This is a fine romance book and a little of a mystery book to read while on vacation. Not really earthshaking. The book, “Unifinished Business” is written in omniscient narration point of view. The narrator knows everything and all points of views and their thinkings at the time. It doesn’t beat around the bush too much for those impatient readers. I enjoyed it but the plot was quite predictable though there were some small mysteries to keep the readers interested: like why her Mom never contacted her and who her Mom was with all these time. This is a perfect novel to read if you don’t want to think too much, especially in a vacation. More on the plots below: Spoiler Alert!

Vanesa came back from years of touring after her father died of cancer. She saw her Mom for the first time since she left for Europe to achieved what she achieve, thanks to her father’s moulding and pushing. She came back to Hyattown and had to reconnect with her Mom, who had fell in love with her family doctor. Vanesa carried a grudge against her Mom why she didn’t contact all these years when she was accomplishing all she did with her Dad. By the way, this type of situation probably wouldn’t happen nowadays with all the mobile technology we have in our hands. Just texted or Facebook your Mom, Vanesa! Meanwhile, she fell in love again with the high-school sweetheart, now a family doctor and also a son of her Mom’s fiance and the brother of her high-school friend. Brady Tucker was still handsome and full of emotion for her. She wasn’t sure she wanted to rekindle the emotion for him. Then she got more comfortable with the small town people, who kept bringing their children to her to teach piano lessons. But more importantly she got more familiar and in love with her Brady, now a mature, responsible family doctor. After a small performance in a fictitious European country, Cordina, Vanesa finally figured out what she really wanted – to be with Brady.

Book Review: “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates


This book is written as letter from the author, Ta-Nehisi Coates, to his son, Samori. He shared his experience of being brought up in the poor black neighborhood being bombarded with street violence, to his college days in Howard University and finally to the present of being a journalist and a great book writer.

The book is well written and reads like poems or songs, the quality that make reading this book so rewarding. It’s a relatively short but an impactful book especially when the violence between blacks and police gather lots of news these days. Personally, I don’t think I can truly understand the plight of the black Americans and the plundering of their bodies as I didn’t grow up here in this country under the same circumstance. But being an immigrant myself, I think I felt the same kind of helplessness as the author did: being discriminated and talked down when I was younger.

The author had a satirical view of the Dream, the peaceful changing of the society that Martin Luther King spelled many years ago. It’s the “Dream of acting white, of talking white, of being white.”

This is a good book if you’re not a black and want to know what it’s like to be brought up as a poor black in a bad neighborhood. I listened to the audiobook twice and re-read the physical book to enjoy the poetic prose throughout the book.

A few good quotes:

“Black people love their children with a kind of obsession. You are all we have, and you come to us endangered.”

“You have been cast into a race in which the wind is always at your face and the hounds are always at your heels… you do not have the privilege of living in ignorance of this essential fact.”

Summary:
Part I: is about the author’s upbringing all the way to attending the Mecca, Howard University, a renowned college attended mostly by blacks.

Part II:
The author describes the tragedy of Prince Jones, shot by a black police, Carlton Jones, from PG County (Prince George County), a notorious place where police brutality is rampant. Also, he went through his post-college years of getting a “writing” job after following his wife to Brooklyn, next to which is Manhattan where the “master of galaxy,” the rich white folks live.

He talked about his encounter with a white woman who pushed his boy in the subway and the subsequent confrontations with the white folks.

Then he talked about bringing his son to the civil war and described how much of the civil war was about the slaves. Next, he brought up the story is a black man being shot because he was playing loud music.

His first trip to Paris allowed him to draw a comparison between a foreigner in France and a “foreigner” in his own country. He spoke the shooting of the Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO for his son being similar to the shooting of Prince Jones for the author.

Part III:
The author ended the book with a visit to the mother of Prince Jones, Mable Jones, who rose up from poverty to achieve personal success in the medical field as Radiology physician. He came away from the visit with a solemnly apocalyptic view of the future for blacks in this country, with the ghettos and prisons in the background.

If you are a black or a “Dreamer” in this country, this book may paint a gloomy picture for your future but yet hopeful that someone like Coates took the courage to speak out about the injustice for blacks. If you are a white, you may gather from the book that you are a privileged group at the expense of the others, especially blacks. And if you’re none of the above like me, then you should count your blessing and struggle for the harmonious society where all people can get along and live happily in this great country of ours.

Book Review: “The Art of Work” by Jeff Goins


The art of work is the lighthouse to those who are lost in finding meaning in their lives. This book will give you some hints how to find your ways. This book is also a guidepost to those who think they’ve achieved success and met their callings. This book will prod you to rise above it and continue to leave a legacy.

The author provide fitful examples to make his points. It’s wonderfully done. I came away so pumped up and convinced of working on my calling(s). I highly recommend this book. The book’s website is here.

Summary

The 7 Stages of finding your calling:

1. Awareness: Listening to your life
“The worst way to be happy is to try to be happy.” We need a reason to be happy. “A calling comes when we embrace the pain, not avoid it.” You must believe in that you’re called to something. To cultivate awareness, you must be willing to act, to step out and see what happens. Opportunities always come to those with open eyes. “You do know what your dream is. You’re just afraid to admit it!” Write down and note the significance of every major event in your life. It takes commitments. The risk of not committing is greater than the cost of making the wrong choice. Because when you fail, you learn. Walt Disney decided to become a cartoonist when he got injured and stayed at home for 2 weeks.

2. Apprenticeship: The teacher appears when the student least expects
Traditionally, it took 10 years to go from an apprentice to a “journeyman” to a master. You cannot master a craft on your own. Accidental apprenticeship are everywhere; you must listen to your life to recognize them. There lies Ginny Phang’s story in going from a unwed pregnant woman abandoned by her boyfriend and her own family to becoming a doula (pregnancy coach) and running her own business. Her story is a testament to the ability of human spirit to endure and the power of community. We never find a calling on our own; we all need help.

3. Practice: When trying isn’t good enough
Excellence is a matter of practice, not talent. “Even the most gifted people do not have what it takes to succeed without the right attitude and years of ‘deliberate’ and ‘deep’ (resulted in failures) practice.” 3 Requirements for “deliberate” practices: 1) Requires a context: time and energy from the individual as well as trainers, 2) Not “inherently motivating” activities – not enjoyable, 3) Cannot be done a very long time without leading to exhaustion – needs to push yourself to the point of sheer exhaustion. Often the only way to know the difference between a hobby and a calling is to put yourself through the crucible of painful practice. Accidental Apprenticeship is such that “long before a person is ready for his calling, life is preparing that person for the future through chance encounters and serendipitous experiences.” Seizing the “lucky” moment and doing something about it may be the difference.

4. Discovery
The process of finding and claiming your calling is a “journey,” like the bible story of Samuel, who had a “transcendental encounter” with God. The three stages: 1) hear it, 2) respond to it, 3) believe in it then leap or more like build bridges and keep moving toward something meaningful and life changing for yourself and the world.

5. Profession
On the way to meet your calling, you may encounter many failures when you’d need to “pivot.” Successful people and organizations like Groupon don’t succeed in spite of failure; they succeed because of it. “Pain is the great teacher and failure a faithful mentor.” Don’t turn a season of failure into a lifetime of failure by 1) recognize hardship as an opportunity to learn, 2) not to succeed in the wrong things, 3) be ready to make pivots along the way. Don’t ask “what if” but say “let’s.” Stop “dreaming” but start “doing.” Not all callings lead to successes or fame though.

6. Mastery
Living a “portfolio life” may be the way of the future. You don’t just have one job, you are all of these things that you do: fee work, salary work, home work, study work and gift work. Combining work, home, play and purpose in your portfolio life. “Mastery is something that goes beyond competence and skills. It means approaching one’s life as a creative work.” Stop trying to be famous and focus instead on trying to be successful. Try to reach the state of “flow” as Csikzentmihalyi described. Our responsibility is to use our gifts in challenging ways so that others can benefit – to be given away.

7. Legacy
Think of your work or calling as leaving a legacy to help others could make your work/calling more meaningful. No need to wait until your retirement. “Life has a funny way of teaching us that sometimes the most important stuff is the ordinary stuff. The smallest moments, the ones we think are insignificant, are the ones we will cherish the most.” Your calling is not about dong something good in the world but becoming someone good and letting that goodness impact the world around you. Success isn’t the final goal, legacy is. On the other hand, don’t let your calling consume you. Life is not a support system for your work; your work is a support system for your life. The author suggests to work hard and passionately, but acknowledge the limitation of what one life is capable of. In the end, success isn’t about what you do with your life but what you leave behind. Calling is about leaving a legacy that matters.

The book provides several questions and exercises in the appendix to help find your callings.

Book Review: “Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex” by Mary Roach


After reading this book, I felt I had just taken another sex education class. I’m amazed by how the researchers in pursuit of science would do to acquire the data they need. They took criticism from people in general while contributing to demystify human sexuality. They are true pioneers.

I even learned a few things I never knew before like:
– how each part of sex organ works exactly.
– There were so many sex researches since as far back as science researches were recorded.
– Best indicator of organism is heart rate and blood pressure, better than its use for detecting lies.
– Animal sexual behavior is not too much different from ours. After all, we all have to derive pleasure from it in order for our species to survive the evolution.
– Dr. Hsu from my home country, Taiwan, is a world-famous penile surgeon in fixing erectile dysfunction and other male-organ-related illnesses.

This is an interesting and thought-provoking book for people who enjoy reading about difficult and controversial researches. Funny at times in Mary Roach’s side comments. Highly recommended.

Summary from each chapter:
1. Highlights from the pioneers of human sexual response. In this chapter, Author highlighted the pioneers in human sexual research. Started with Albert R. Shadle, who peered through animal sexual behavior in 1940’s. John Watson observed sexual behavior in the lab settings in 1910’s. Alfred Kinsey performed the experiments in secrecy. In 1960’s, William Masters and Virginia Johnson performed and published the controversial “Human Sexual Response” book. It was the “right” time as the society was more open to it. He had a penis camera built to better observe the “action.”

2. The orgasm machine for woman. The author describe her search for the penis camera without success and witnessing the orgasm machine in an exhibit event. The fact that the woman had a better control of the speed, angle and thrust may explain why they could get off using the contraption.

3. Some theories about why some women don’t experience normal “voluptuous reaction” – orgasm. The distance between vagina and clitoris may play a role – ideally less than the width of the thumb or the “rule of thumb” by Kim Wallen of Emory University. The distance seems to be proportional to the height of the woman and breast size – bad news for tall women with big breasts. G-spots are discussed quite liberally here – stimulating through different positions (doggy style). Or maybe it’s purely the sense of control that allows a woman to reach orgasm.

4.The author describes the artificial collections of boar sperms and insemination of sow. Some of the youtube videos may do a better job. But the question lingers whether female animal experience organism and whether organism helps with fertility. The answers are most likely ‘no’ for animals or at least no discernible by humans.

5. In this chapter, the author convince her husband to have a MRI 4-D (3D + time) imaging of their sex act and ejaculation. Now that’s professionalism.

6. This chapter started out with the work of Dr. Geng-long Hsu of Taipei, Taiwan who specialized on repairing penile injury and erectile dysfunction. The history of impotence is then described in great details. In the Middle Ages, it was blamed on witches. Then the psychological state of the men was accused, followed by many ridiculous causes like masturbation. Impotence could be a cause of divorces in the late 16th and early 17th century.

7. The author investigated boosting virility with transplanting animal and human testicle, ingesting animal testicles, and other means. Use of Viagra brings in more discussion. It ended with suggested pelvic exercises.

8. If you must, inflatable penile implant maybe the way to go. Roach described Dr. Hsu’s operation on a patient and even got to touch his penis. If the penis is castrated by a jealous wife accidentally, of course, the cure could be in the hand of their microsurgeons, though not to its full potential.

9. Is the clitoris a tiny penis? Yes, but Viagra doesn’t help in woman’s FSAD (Female Sexual Arousal Disorder).

10. Can frequent masturbation (or resulting in orgasm) contribute to your health (or hiccups in one case)? Roach investigated the use of vacuum pump for women’s clitoris that seem to increase flood flow. Roach paid a visit to Topco, US’s largest sex toy maker, which was an interesting encounter with their employees.

11. Orgasm can happen in quadriplegic persons or came about without physical manipulation (hand-free). The nerve paths from organism evidently are NOT blocked by spinal cord injuries.

12. Female sexual arousal poses a challenge for scientist to detect and unlock its mystery. In most cases, it’s in their mind. A promising drug, flibanserin, appears to be effective and in Phase III trials.

13. Sex studies in conservative countries like Egypt could be very difficult. But merely talking about sex already help the society to pay attention to it.

14. The last surprising experiment performed by Master and Johnson was this random matching of sexual partners. Almost all of them had “efficient” sex but not necessarily “amazing” sex. Gay men and women tend to pay more attention to their partners’ needs while heterosexual didn’t benefit from “gender empathy.”

See Mary Roach’s Ted Talk on 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Orgasm | Mary Roach