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The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us Hardcover – Jan 5 2011

4 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (Jan. 5 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446559903
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446559904
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.5 x 22.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 322 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #320,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"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, Booklist

"Shows flashes of greatness."―Jessica Gelt, Los Angeles Times

"[Kirshenbaum's] honesty, wit and creativity make reading this book a journey to treasure. Your desire to kiss will, happily, remain strong."―Catherine Ramsdell, Chattanooga Free Press

"A beautifully crafted book, answering many of the questions you have about kissing, and many you haven't thought of, but are none the less fascinating."―Vanessa Woods,

"Like some memorable kisses, the book is short and sweet but teaches us something new."―Colette Bancroft, St. Petersburg Times

"Sheril Kirshenbaum wittily explores theories about the evolutionary beginnings of kissing. . . Science buffs and the everyday reader can enjoy Kirshenbaum's insightful commentary."―Laila Barakat, Sacramento News and Review

"Wonderful."―Adam Frank,

"Playful yet comprehensive."―Michele Lent Hirsch, Psychology Today

"Borders on the super genius . . . an entertaining and informative read about a practice that we should all spend more time investigating."―Bret McCabe, Baltimore City Paper

"They say you never forget your first kiss-it sears itself into your memory. The Science of Kissing will no doubt do something similar. From the neurology of smooching to practical tips on locking lips, Sheril Kirshenbaum makes reading about this strange and fascinating practice almost as much fun as doing it."―Sam Kean, New York Times-bestselling author of The Disappearing Spoon

"Sheril Kirshenbaum gives you everything you wanted to know about this wonderful way we use our mouths. If you've ever wondered why we kiss under the mistletoe, or why two out of three people tilt their heads to the right when they zoom in for a kiss, Kirshenbaum will tell you, in a way that is witty, wise, and pucker-perfect."―Robin Marantz Henig, contributing writer, The New York Times Magazine

"If you fear that knowing the science of kissing will unweave the poetry of it, fear not. This engaging book, chock-a-block with eye-popping science and fun stories not only makes for great reading but plumps up the pleasure of a smooch itself. You'll never think of kissing-what e.e. cummings called 'a better fate than wisdom'-in the same way again."―Jennifer Ackerman, author of Ah-Choo! The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold and Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream: A Day in the Life of Your Body

"This was the best science book I've read in a long time, offering a new level of understanding to an innate part of ourselves, and making it seem even more enchanting."―-Cosmos magazine

About the Author

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist at The Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Texas at Austin . She blogs on Discover magazine's website, The Intersection, and contributes to a variety of blogs and science publications. Visit her website at

Inside This Book

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Top Customer Reviews

By A. Volk #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on June 6 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is written for a general audience, and is about the science of kissing. The book breaks down into a few different sections, examining the evolutionary history of kissing in humans and animals, cultural and historical influences on kissing, the functions of kissing, the effects of kissing on the brain, sex differences in kissing, and future directions in kissing, to name a few. The author is a blogger for Discover magazine, so she is used to writing about science to a main audience. The tone of the book is therefore funny and serious at the same time. She does a good job describing the science without making it too heavy. The fact that she tops it off with a top-ten list about how to kiss better (according to science) is a great example of that. Overall, this wasn't the greatest science book I've written, nor the most enjoyable book, but it was definitely a fun blend of the too. While I personally would have liked more research and depth, what is there and how it's written make this an easy four stars.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9a6a0d08) out of 5 stars 29 reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a6b9a98) out of 5 stars Engaging, Funny, Interesting Jan. 4 2011
By Texas_reader - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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!
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a6a151c) out of 5 stars Not that much here Feb. 19 2011
By J. Davis - Published on
Format: Hardcover
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.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a6b2c9c) out of 5 stars BookHounds [...] Jan. 11 2011
By Mary Bookhounds - Published on
Format: Hardcover
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a6b766c) out of 5 stars Fun and fascinating Feb. 14 2012
By joyful - Published on
Format: Hardcover
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.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a6a0df8) out of 5 stars how to pick up a starbucks barista: 101 Feb. 4 2015
By Eric Somogyi - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.