It's not very exciting – for a fun, ribald take on the topic I highly recommend Bonk, reviewed here previously. For a more detailed look at the topic, I recommend Love, Sex and the Brain, also reviewed here. Dirty Minds is essentially a summary of all the info you can find in Love, Sex, and the Brain but with a slightly more conversational and personal approach.
Dirty Minds covers a lot of topics – you got your hormones and your glands and your brain activity, etc. There is plenty of stuff on issues like fidelity, parenting, age, gender differences, and homosexuality. Some of the most interesting stuff comes from the first chapter, in which Sukel describes how scientists were reluctant to study love as opposed to sex for decades, partly because love is so difficult to define. If you're curious, here's how love is currently defined by neuroscientists: “a life-long learning process that starts with the relationship of the infant to his or her mother and the gradual withdrawal from the mother with a search for emotional comfort and fulfillment”.
Dirty Minds is basically a compilation of facts, but the author, Kayt Sukel, brings a certain sense of urgency to the topic by revealing that she is recovering from a divorce. Sukel is not only intellectually curious, but also personally motivated to try to discover why relationships succeed or fail, and how to choose the best mate. I had some issues with some of Sukel's experiences about parenting and marriage, and I also thought she occasionally oversimplified issues or drew too many conclusions from too little data. Also, the urgency of Sukel's quest for answers is somewhat subverted by the fact that every question she poses to scientists is answered with “We don't really know”. However, I do think that many readers will appreciate the personal touch, and I must say that reading about Sukel trying to have a self-delivered orgasm in a MRI machine is a hoot.
I have to admit that now that I've read three books about how sex and love work scientifically, pretty much all I get out of them is “dopamine, dopamine, blah, blah, dopamine”. Through no fault of her own, Sukel suffers through being my third book about the science of love and sex and not my first. However, even though I can't honestly say that Dirty Minds rocked my world personally, I do think that this book provides a nice, solidly written overview for the layperson, and might be more attractive to people than Love, Sex, and the Brain because of the more personal approach taken by the author. I learned many things of interest from the book, not the least of which is that due to claustrophobia, I won't be donating any orgasms to science in an MRI machine.