From Publishers Weekly
In the vein of Stephen Pinker's The Language Instinct, scientist Kirshenbaum examines one of humanity's fondest pastimes. Divided into three parts, the book covers the evolutionary and cultural history of the kiss, the chemistry of kissing, and the future of kissing. In part one, "The Hunt for Kissing's Origins," Kirshenbaum examines the role kissing played in the Middle Ages--a businesslike kiss was employed as a legal way to seal contracts and business agreements. Many men did not know how to read and write, so their signature X was kissed to make it legal. Part two, "Kissing in the Brain," will appeal to anyone who has ever been curious about the chemical properties of butterflies in the stomach. Kirshenbaum writes just as gracefully about prostitutes in pop culture as she does the myriad of complicated biological and chemical processes that science uses to explain osculation. Part three, "Great Expectations," covers Kirshenbaum's personal attempt to further investigate the kiss and leaves a long list of fascinating questions that demand further research. (Jan.)
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What’s the big deal? You pucker up, and there you are—right? Turns out there’s a lot more to kissing than you might think. For instance, you never forget your first kiss isn’t just a sappy sentiment; it’s apparently quite literally true, and the fact that we remember more details about that first kiss than about our first sexual experience speaks volumes about the nature of memory. Men and women kiss differently; that’s also true, but you might be surprised to learn why. Why is kissing important to some human societies, and unimportant—just plain foreign—to others? University of Texas research scientist and Discover magazine blogger Kirshenbaum draws on psychology, biology, history, and other disciplines in this highly engaging, highly informative book. --David Pitt