Lost Love: A celebration of romance from times past, by Paul Jenner

"Lost Love" by Paul Jenner

“Lost Love” by Paul Jenner
c.2009 Chambers
$18.95 / $23.95 Canada
208 pages

“The Science of Kissing” by Sheril Kirshenbaum
c.2011, Grand Central Publishing
$19.99 / $22.50 Canada
247 pages, includes index


By TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER

How old were you when it happened?

No matter what your age, you never forget the first time you fell in love. Maybe it was a monkey-bars moment, and you were a tender-hearted five years old. Perhaps you waited until the ripe old age of fourteen, and you cried an ocean when it was over. Or maybe you fell head-over-heels as an unsuspecting adult who thought love was for people with their heads in the clouds.

Do you remember your first kiss?

You will when you read “Lost Love” by Paul Jenner, and “The Science of Kissing” by Sheril Kirshenbaum this Valentine’s Day.

Does it seem like romance was better a hundred years ago? Did Grandma and Grandpa spark in ways you’ll never achieve?

You’ll think it’s possible when you page through “Lost Love”. Filled with short essays on everything romantic from centuries ago, including biographies on Cleopatra and Casanova, euphemisms that caused swooning in 1811 (but have vastly different meanings today), the language of flowers, lingerie, love letters, and Lady Chatterley.

So okay. We’ve got you really interested in amour now, and you’re thinking about the kisses you’ll share when you see your beloved. But why?

As it turns out, your heart doesn’t rule your emotions, your lips do (with help from your brain). And according to “The Science of Kissing”, it’s been happening that way for over 3,500 years.

Ninety percent of the world’s people kiss, but it wasn’t always that way: kissing, though common enough elsewhere, was mostly a European thing at first. There’s a story in here, in fact, about a British explorer who tried to kiss the daughter of an African king. The girl was horrified and screamed, thinking he was about to bite her.

In this book, you’ll learn how scientists think kissing started (think: monkeys, foliage, and ripe fruit). You’ll find out about the language of kisses (there are up to thirty German words for smackeroos), movie kisses (including a surprisingly early male-male screen kiss), how many people are “lefties” while zeroing in on a lip lock, why Genghis Khan might be related to millions of men in the Middle East, how to spot philematophobia, why kisses are important, and yes, how to get more of them.

Does spring make you feel ardent about amour?  Then you’ll surely want to grab both these love-ly books.

“Lost Love” is a courtly book about old-style courting, and is perfect for anyone who believes we don’t know how to woo properly any more. Author Paul Jenner includes plenty of fun pictures and entries that are shorter than a love letter.

Packed with facts as small as a peck on the cheek, “The Science of Kissing” is deeper but no less enjoyable. Author Sheril Kirshenbaum adds laboratory to love in this book, and reading it is like puckering up: you just want to do it some more.

If you’re looking for love, you can stop the search here by grabbing “Lost Love and “The Science of Kissing”. True romantics will, um, love these books.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.