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The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2011
I pre-ordered this book and was very excited when the release date was moved up. I had expected to enjoy it (I've read other works - long and short- by Kirshenbaum and liked them), but did not expect her newest release to be so engaging (I dont personally study this type of stuff, so wasn't sure if it would keep my attention). I'm happy to say that it was GREAT! Overall - I definitely give it 5 stars. The book kept my attention and interest from cover to cover. I learned a lot - and enjoyed the process.

When I sat down to read it after Christmas, I had thought to thumb through 20 or 30 pages, but found myself anxiously turning beyond 50.... 100.... 200... until I was done. Couldn't wait to see what the next page would hold. As I read, I laughed (quoting "The Princess Bride" at the onset is a good way to do that), learned (did you know that humans generally remember their first trip to 1st base better than their first trip to home?), and cringed (eating apples from armpits - trust me. Ick!). The book even touched on "Twilight"-inspired "kissing" behaviors from a scientist's point of view (interesting).

The book was a fun cruise through the history and present status of kissing in different cultures, groups and species - in the context of scientific studies on what kissing does to us, and why me continue to do it.

Great for those of us who like to learn about new topics, from a scientist/historian's point-of-view - but also want a work that is engaging, and not dry. Definite 5 stars!
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2011
It gives no pleasure to give this book a bad review; the last book she (co)wrote was very good and I enjoy reading her blog. Nonetheless, I can't recommend buying this book. It was very thin in substance and length. The science of kissing, as the author (I believe it's p.197) herself admits, is still in its infancy. Maybe in 5 years or so there will be more to write about the subject of kissing.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Everything you ever wanted to know about kissing but were afraid to ask. It has sections on the history, psychology, physiology and meanings behind that act. This is a fascinating books filled with facts that are formed into a comprehensive and enjoyable book. My favorite section is on the physiology which also covers germs and how your body has learned to react to a kiss. Fans of Mary Roach are truly going to enjoy this one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 14, 2012
Don't you wish they taught this class in high school? The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us by Sheril Kirshenbaum is the kind of science book I love to read: fascinating, fun, informative, and highly readable for the layperson. Kirshenbaum covers almost everything about this titillating subject. It's not too technical for the nonscientific crowd, but with enough depth across a broad spectrum so by the end I felt very educated about kissing. And people, real-world, personal research in this subject (which I am happy to participate in) can always be enhanced with some investigatory reading.

"A romantic kiss does nothing less than set off an avalanche of biological activity. During a passionate kiss, our blood vessels dilate; more oxygen is routed to the brain; our breathing quickens and becomes erratic; our cheeks flush; our pulse quickens; our pupils dilate; dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, oxytocin, and adrenaline levels spike, leaving our bodies awash in a chemical bath. In short, our biology seem to be hardwired to make kissing extremely pleasurable and, to some degree, addictive."

The Science of Kissing covers historical and cultural origins of kissing (do you know that there is a place in the Cook Islands where the men have an average of 1,000 orgasms a year yet do not engage in any form of romantic kissing?); the physiological and neurological, not to mention the emotional and psychological, responses when we kiss; kissing experiments; why we tilt our heads to the right when we kiss (nothing to do with being left or right-handed); a chapter on "cooties"; and much, much more.

But the education doesn't stop there; at the end, Kirshenbaum gives you 10 tips for better kissing. This isn't your average Cosmo article; these are tips from a scientist! Who's researched the field extensively! If for nothing else, you gotta read The Science of Kissing for this invaluable part.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2015
Ladies love when you tell them you read a book With this title. It is even better when you have it on the book shelf and your lady sees it and begins talking about kissing.

I suggest carrying this book loosely in public areas. Starbucks is a great example! Order a coffee and have one of the hot baristas hand it to you while you are reading the book. Make light conversation, send a wink as the conversation ends, and as you leave thank her for the coffee and give her your receipt with your number on it. You will get a text later from her or another one of the hot baristas and boom Goes the dynamite.

if you decide to read the book you will find it enjoyable and learn theories why we kiss, how it started and different ways kisses are done all over the world. The subtle information you receive from kissing someone is actually interesting and you will never kiss someone the same again.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2011
Sheril Kirshenbaum, who, with Chris Mooney, brings science to the masses with "The Intersection," blog, has decided to tell us everything about a lovely subject, kissing.

She's a bright and sparkling writer and the book is almost as much fun as the subject. Forget about the chocolates. This is the gift to give to your beloved this Valentine's Day.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2011
My thoughts: This book examines kissing in about every way you could possibly imagine. Starting with what different cultures find attractive and how kissing is viewed throughout the world and throughout time. That part was pretty interesting - learning about some meaning behind kissing and learning about non-traditional kisses in cultures - that include sniffing or smelling another person and just touching them. It also talks about the different ways that animals kiss and show emotion.

From that point it goes into the different physical changes that happen in the body, including hormones that are released and how hormones themselves affect the kiss. (Ever kiss someone that you were hoping for romance with only to feel like you were kissing your brother?) It also talks about the different bacteria and viruses that are present in saliva and how they can affect your well-being.

That gives you an overview of part of the book - other things discussed are what happens in the brain when we kiss and I liked the 10 tips at the end to make one a better kisser - based on all the scientific studies used in the book.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
On a whim, I picked up The Science of Kissing from the new releases shelf at the library. I thought it would be a fun read, and I wasn't disappointed. Kirshenbaum, a marine biologist and science journalist (and a research scientist at UT-Austin, but I'll try not to hold that against her), decided to delve into the nature and origins of one of my favorite things to do, kissing. Turns out there's not a ton of primary research in that particular field, but she tracked it down, and did some original research of her own.

Why do we kiss? Well, there are a number of possibilities. The origin of kissing could be tied to the practice of mothers pre-chewing their babies' food and depositing it in the babies' mouths (this pertains to humans as well as animals). She reveals her background as an evolutionary biologist when she observes that babies' mouths have evolved to be a perfect receptacle for a nipple. That the system of feeding our young with mother's milk originated by design is completely outside of her worldview. Kissing could be linked to the practice of smelling one another on greeting (again, humans and non-humans). There are definitely chemical triggers and responses when we kiss, determining compatibility and guiding relationships. "Kiss and make up" works for a reason: we trigger chemical reactions in one another.

Many animals kiss or engage in kissing-like behaviors.
Lots of what she writes is speculative. Controlled experiments to observe chemical responses and neurological activity related to kissing inevitably interfere with the act of kissing. The closest she came was exposing subjects to images of kissing and measuring neurological activity. But that didn't seem to lead to many firm conclusions.

Kirshenbaum's goal with The Science of Kissing seems to have been more about entertainment than serious science. That's not meant as a criticism: she is skilled at engaging her reader while distilling good research, in ways that a layman can understand and enjoy. This is a fun read, sure to make you want to put into practice what she writes of. She does conclude with 10 (definitely scientifically based!) tips for kissing. I like the final one best, and I will be sure to mention it to my kissing partner:

Kiss regularly and often. Once you've found someone special, a kiss works to maintain the strong partnership you share by helping to keep passion alive--with plenty of assistance from those hormones and neurotransmitters. Lots of kissing is a telltale sign of a healthy relationship, because the connection fosters a sense of security through companionship--which in turn has been physiologically linked to happiness.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2011
A very interesting short book with some new information and some basic. It may be disturbing for some men to know that a woman can determine your suitability as a mate in just a few minutes by an ancient aroma that indicates that you are either genetically too similar or different enough to imbue any child with a good immune system and she finds such men more attractive and makes her more responsive. Men do not have this attribute. We just look and chose. Most people remember the first kiss over the first intercourse and a man's saliva transmits testosterone and makes her more responsive.The book is filled with such bits and thus is essential for all of us interested in gender studies and human evolution.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2011
Well, let's just say that if you're looking for a comprehensive book on kissing, this is indeed it. It covers everything one may want to know (and many things one would prefer not to know) about the subject. Word to the wise: About 400,000 people a year kiss the Blarney Stone in Ireland. Um, ick!

This was fun and upbeat yet covered all sorts of kissing related topics in all time periods and locations. This quite entertaining and informative book is certainly recommended and would make a fun gift as well.
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