Alex Abramovich
June 20, 1997 AT 04:00 AM EDT

In this natural history of one of life’s more pleasurable activities, On Kissing: Travels in an Intimate Landscape, Adrianne Blue treats the science and sensuality of kissing with a flighty, flirtatious style that is all the more infuriating for being so appropriate to its subject matter. Skipping nimbly between the anecdotal (leper kissing reached its apogee in the 12th and 13th centuries) and the trivial (passionate kissing uses up 6.4 calories a minute during the most intense pre-orgasmic stage of foreplay), Blue’s book is an almanac of romantic weather patterns. But it pays for its exhaustive scope with a maddening shallowness; the author — a magazine writer — thinks and writes in sound bites, and ultimately, this slight book is about as forgettable as the sensation of having something sweet brush against your lips. B-

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