From a noted science journalist comes a wonderfully witty and fascinating exploration of how and why we kiss. When did humans begin to kiss? Why is kissing integral to some cultures and alien to others? Do good kissers make the best lovers? And is that expensive lip-plumping gloss worth it? Sheril Kirshenbaum, a biologist and science journalist, tackles these questions and more in THE SCIENCE OF KISSING. It's everything you always wanted to know about kissing but either haven't asked, couldn't find out, or didn't realize you should understand. The book is informed by the latest studies and theories, but Kirshenbaum's engaging voice gives the information a light touch. Topics range from the kind of kissing men like to do (as distinct from women) to what animals can teach us about the kiss to whether or not the true art of kissing was lost sometime in the Dark Ages. Drawing upon classical history, evolutionary biology, psychology, popular culture, and more, Kirshenbaum's winning book will appeal to romantics and armchair scientists alike.
I had to giggle after reading, in the intro, the author talking about how discussing the scientific aspects of kissing and sexual relations won't kill any allure... Well, I was with her until, in the first chapter she starts talking about how a woman's facial lips are her "genital echo". That imagery, though! It was however interesting to read that the fullness of a woman's lips is said to be an indicator of her estrogen levels & reproductive ability. Guess my mom can blame these thin lips she gave me on her not seeing any grandkids yet :-P But wait, she has thin lips... hmm.
So basically this quick little read (209 pages on the hardback edition) is an extension of a magazine article (or maybe it was a blog post?) the author wrote on this topic. It got so much feedback and so many questions were posted to her that she decided to get more in depth with it, not only looking at what modern scientists have to say on the subject of kissing & copulation, but also the topic as it's been addressed in historical texts. Kirshenbaum also looks at how our actions are mirrored by animals in the wild and what that might mean. In one instance, she focuses on a study done on bonobos, as research has shown that their DNA is a 98.7% match to humans. There are other topics covered that had me cringe-laughing, such as the bit on Gore-Tex implants (whaaa?!), A.I. robots being specifically designed with sexualized programming so that they can reply to you like an actual partner might -- you know, if you're just ready to throw in the towel with the human race altogether, lol -- and the real science behind the childhood idea of "cooties".
As far as the writing itself, I found the topics entertaining and thought-provoking but some parts got a little dry, while other passages started to sound like an article out of Cosmo. I also noticed a slight feminist lean to the tone. A fun read if you like reading about the more unusual areas of scientific study! This is the kind of stuff that keeps conversations moving at get-togethers :-)