At one point or another, we all read relationship books or sexual advice books. They aren’t the same thing, and confusing the two is easy, but you don’t have to be in a relationship to need advice on sex and you don’t always need sex advice if you’re in a relationship.
There are thousands of books on both subjects, and a lot of them are incredibly dry and boring. That’s a common theme with nonfiction— even about interesting subjects like sex. It doesn’t help that nonfiction sexual advice books generally have a heteronormative narrative which can be grating at times. Unfortunately Kissing: A Field Guide does have the heteronormative narrative but it’s not entirely a detraction.
At the core of the book, it’s the author’s speculations on kissing, its impact, and importance. To be cliché, Violet covers the good, the bad and the ugly. Each chapter is a different area of kissing that Ms. Blue felt was important and includes ways to improve or enhance your lip locking experience.
At the end of the first chapter, there is a small questionnaire that was, in all honesty, fun to take even if it was just to read some of the more off-the-wall answers provided. I followed along, wrote my answers down, and then used my answers to classify myself with the author’s choices. Even if you don’t want to take the test to find out what sort of kisser Violet would peg you as, I suggest reading through the questions and all of the answers because some of them are hilarious.
In the interest of full disclosure, I would be classified as a ‘Power Puss’. It’s okay, I laughed about it too. If you’re going to pick up the book, I also suggest that you read the full synopsis of each classification for kissing. I wasn’t entirely sure if it was serious or a bit satirical and I’m still not, but it was still fun to read all the same. Which is a theme for the entire book in my opinion.
I will say that while I was reading I had a few instances where I became frustrated, mostly with word choice. I’m one of those people that believe there is a difference between confidence and arrogance and sometimes the line between the two is a single word.
In the right setting, with the right person, it’s fine to refer to your partner as a toy, but I’d rather not be slapped in the face with that while reading a nonfiction book meant to give any sort of relationship or sex advice. It paints a negative picture in my mind and leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.
It also makes me think the author is arrogant, and that bothers me because I don’t know this individual at all and I try not to base my opinions of others off of something so small. I’m not perfect though, and I’m not in the habit of policing my thoughts as long as I don’t voice every single one.
There are actually a lot of really sound observations in the book, and I found that reading the parts about clues on when it’s safe to initiate a kiss was informative. I wouldn’t use it as a hard guideline because no two people have exactly the same thoughts on every little thing— especially in the case of sex or sexual activity. Ms. Blue is very clear that body language says a lot, but you need to make sure that you have multiple signs of go, not just one, though asking explicitly is always the best practice.
The types of body language, and other signifiers, outlined are broad and easily universal and that’s exactly how they are presented— which I enjoyed. The number of books out there that treat their information like the law is staggering, so it was refreshing to see that wasn’t the case with this particular work.
Ms. Blue doesn’t just talk about body language to observe for; she also gives body language cues to help the reader signify their own desire to be kissed.
Chapter Four is an absolute must read. The types of kisses and types of kissers had me in stitches. There are still some good points thrown in with the humor, but, if you don’t read anything else in the book, Chapter Four is a must. Chapter Six is a close second, though, for the section titled Kiss Catastrophes and Remedies. Part of the reason these two sections are so amusing is because most of us can identify with them, and getting to poke fun at ourselves is sometimes fun.
Most people have played Spin the Bottle or something similar, so we all know there are a variety of kissing games out there. The final chapter in the book has a list of games for parties, and games for two, with full descriptions on how to play them. It was actually interesting and some of the suggestions are intriguing. There is certainly a larger variety than I was aware of, and there should be something for everyone in that section.
Would I have bought the book for myself? I honestly don’t know. I may have if I’d found some of those sections while skimming through. Overall, it’s a fun read with good information, applicable to any sexuality, sprinkled on top of seemingly satirical delivery. I enjoyed the book and I’m currently checking to see if Ms. Blue has other books in the same vein. While I don’t normally enjoy nonfiction, if I get to laugh while I read it I can’t call it a loss. It’s a relatively short and fun read and that’s always a plus in my book.
Title: Kissing: A Field Guide
Author: Violet Blue
Publisher: Cleis Press, Inc.