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The Kissing List

2.89  ·  Rating details ·  466 ratings  ·  106 reviews
An inventive debut that recalls the imagination of Aimee Bender and the sardonic wit of Lorrie Moore.

The interlocking stories in The Kissing List feature an unforgettable group of young women – Sylvie, Anna, Frances, Maureen – as their lives connect, first during a year abroad at Oxford, then later as they move to New York on the cusp of adulthood. We follow each of them a
Hardcover, First American Edition, 223 pages
Published May 22nd 2012 by Hogarth (first published January 1st 2012)
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Average rating 2.89  · 
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Jun 04, 2012 rated it liked it
I'm all about short stories. What's not to like? They start, you get into them, then they're done. Easy peasy. No commitment. Yeah. I like that. And the title. C'mon. That's interesting. The title also reads that it's fiction. But I have to tell you, these stories are compelling. The characters are well-defined. Sometimes I even felt sorry/compassion/comradery/dislike for them. Shoot, I felt I was reading someone's diary. Which to me, is a telling sign of writing. Not the reading someone's diary ...more
Maimoona Rahman
Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I picked up The Kissing List expecting some sort of chick lit, but lo behold! When I was done reading it, I felt like I got more than I had bargained for.

But Reents, I think there is a minor error that needs fixing, and I wonder why the literati haven’t already raised a stink about it: contrary to what your educated character Frances thinks, women in Bangladesh are “not forced to consent to genital mutilation.” Maybe in Burundi they are, I don’t know. Since the copy I have is a galley edition, I
Aug 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
This is a compilation of short stories that center around 4-5 friends as they leave college and start their "adult" lives. I watched Girls on HBO and this was very similiar to that. I don't know how accurate a description it is but for someone middle-aged it's scary! (although I don't know how much is New York City and how much 20-something behavior.) A blurb on the back of my ARC says at the heart of each story lies a radiant desperation, and that's true. I'd even upgrade it and say a ultra-pur ...more
Dec 15, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: those who enjoyed Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close
Told in an anecdotal, non-linear style, which I quite like.

Some chapters were more connected and memorable than others, but overall I quite enjoyed it.
Apr 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this more than I thought I would when I began reading it... more than some of the reviews led me to think I'd like, actually. Not that other reviewers are wrong - I just took what others had to say and ultimately decided to try to hear what the author wanted to tell me, and liked it just fine.

Reents' premise intrigued me: several friends who attended Oxford together and then all wound up continuing their friendships in New York City are followed through each individual's short tales, w
Jul 25, 2012 rated it did not like it
What I expected was a STORY. I knew this was going to be a bunch of different stories, but I thought they would make up a whole. But they didn’t. It was like the author had ideas for random scenes and she just threw them together without bothering to verify that they made sense. Everything is so hazy and confusing. It’s not all the author’s fault. Her editor should have helped her to glue all the parts together. Where was the editor?

I had a big problem with the way the narration keeps changing
Jessica Jeffers
Mar 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This is marketed as a set of interconnected short stories, but that's a little misleading. The stories are interconnected only in that the characters all know each other and a few are the subject of more than one story. For the most part, the stories have little to do with one another. Just a warning, if that kind of thing is going to irk you.

So, you are probably only going to like this if you're a twentysomething who loves rich metaphors. The stories are all pretty heavily focused on the turbul
nomadreader (Carrie D-L)
The basics: The Kissing List is the debut short story collection by Stephanie Reents. Some of the stories are linked.

My thoughts: The first story in the collection "Kissing," sets the stage for the rest of the book. Reents and the female narrators of her stories are young, brazen, fun and wise: "The funny thing about being in your early twenties is that it's a lot like being any other age, except you don't know it." I have a notoriously hard time reviewing short story collections as a whole, and
Garry Powell
Feb 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I should state that I also was in grad school with the author, although we barely knew one another, and the only time we have met since 2000 was last year, very briefly, when she didn't recognize me until I told her who I was. So I venture to hope that I can be completely objective. I really thought this a terrific collection of stories, funny, smart, with plenty of moving moments--particularly as the female protagonists get a little older and a little more disillusioned than they are at the beg ...more
Kellie Lambert
Nov 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
What a disappointment this book was. The premise seemed so intriguing--12 short stories following a group of college girls after graduating. Their dating stories, first jobs and mostly failed relationships. Booooo. Instead of being funny, or cute, or even deliciously detailed it was tedious, wordy (about non-interesting topics), and poorly executed. The only reason I finished it was that it is a mere 226 pages long (and I guess also because I am slightly OCD about my book reading.)

When I finish
Apr 10, 2012 rated it did not like it
The synopsis sounds promising, but don't be fooled. This was a bland and truly forgettable book. I didn't care for the writing. I didn't connect to any of the characters. I didn't understand the 'why' of this book. It just didn't work for me, I felt it was a complete waste of time. ...more
Jennifer Didik
Mar 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, galley
4.5 stars. wow. i don't think i really had an inkling of what i was in for with this book, but it blew me away. ...more
Maybe it was a bad idea to choose to read these stories out of order of how they were published.
I thought since they were randomized anyway, it wouldn't hurt too much but then I read two stories about Sylvie back to back and her jealousy and the hint of people cheating on people in a second story just turned me off on reading the rest of it.

OR maybe it's a low rated book because it's just no good. I had plans to take notes on every story but the two I started reading just turned me off on cont
Tatiana De Almeida
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
Didn’t enjoy this one. The characters were all forgettable, the stories didn’t really connect, and a lot of it made no sense at all. I think there was supposed to be this sense of not being in control as is so often the case in love and life, but it just led to a confusing experience as a reader. I didn’t care about any of these people because I had no sense for their lives as a whole, just little bits at random moments. This book was the epitome of why I normally steer away from short stories.
Apr 06, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: unfinished
The first chapter starts so abruptly that I thought I had somehow picked up the third or fourth book in a series by mistake. But no, Reents is just a terrible storyteller. Gave up after 44 pages.
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
Short stories are generally hard to rate. There are bound to be some hits and misses and if the stories are not connected a collection can often feel jumbled and and awkwardly strewn togetehr. I wanted to like The Kissing List because I can relate to 20 something year olds trying to balance out life, love and the quarter life crisis (and the title was cute). Sure there are a billion books, tv shows, movies and hell even songs about this period of life floating around but what was intriguing abou ...more
Janae Murphy
May 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
After picking up and setting back down this book for about two months I finally busted out the last 100 or so pages I had left in a matter of a couple sittings during my breaks at work. It's really difficult to explain my feelings in regards to this book because there were moments I was in tears laughing, in tears of despair and sadness (no headless women were involved with these tears fortunately), and then there were times I wanted to skip the short story completely because I wanted to strangl ...more
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for reading and reviewing it.

A series of twelve interconnected stories, Stephanie Reents’ The Kissing List touches various points in the lives of four young women who are in that period of navigating the real world, having recently left college.

The collection reads as though you are dipping into tiny moments in the women’s lives – a brief window opening on an incident that resonates with them for some reason. While each woman faces specific issues
Jul 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Kissing List
Stephanie Reents

My " in a nutshell" summary...

This book is interconnected stories loosely based on kissing but really about life.

My thoughts after reading this book...

How can I say this?  I liked this book without loving this book?  The book starts and ends with some of the same characters.  The stories are interesting but sometimes a bit odd.  Some of the stories were weird.  Some had characters that I did not want to know.  The characters were sad, quirky, likeable, unlikeab
Kelly Herself
Apr 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
I'm participating in a reading challenge for 2012 and part of the challenge is to read two debut novels in the Women's Fiction genre. When I saw this book offered on Vine, I was very excited to read it. It fit in with my challenge and I adore novels that are written like short stories, but the stories tie together. Unfortunately, this novel ended up being better in the description that it actually was reading it.

The characters were very bland. I didn't particularly like or dislike any of them. I
A little surprised at the low rating on this book. I think there's a disconnect between its happy cover, its professed genre of chick-lit, its chick-lit type title and the actual content of the book. It's written by a woman, and its main characters are all women. It's a collection of short stories of interlinked people, but they don't make a composite whole. There's precious little wooing in it, the short stories are generally unhappy but written very well. Some were even moving. So, this was ri ...more
Rachel Kowal
Feb 11, 2012 rated it liked it
(3.5 stars)

I'll freely admit that I often lose interest with short story collections midway through, but I polished off Reents' debut over the course of a few days. Now that I'm through, I'm almost tempted to go back and re-read a few of the earlier ones since I have more of a handle on the characters now.

For a collection of loosely linked stories, they are surprisingly eclectic stylistically. One story, "None of the Above" features a number of mock multiple choice questions (the narrator write
Jun 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
It has taken me 6 months to finish this book. I bought it at a book signing where I met the author. She was fabulous, I instantly adored her. This was her first published book and I was excited to read it. It is a collection of short stories and so I could read one, set it aside for days or weeks or months, read another, etc. I have to admit I was not crazy about it for the first half of the book, I thought it was weird. Each glimpse into these lives was a chapter size story and wasn't really en ...more
Apr 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
Full disclosure: I received an ARC of this book from Goodread's first reads giveaways. I've given it a two star, or "it was ok" rating because I found the book rather inconsistent. It's a collection of short stories or vignettes, focusing on different women whose lives are all sort of connected in some way. Fittingly, the stylistic choices for each little vignette vary, but in my opinion, some of these choices work and some, not so much. At worst, a chapter reads like an excerpt from my 16 year ...more
Mar 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wendy "The rhythm was less than satisfying: kiss, talk, kiss, talk." The very real young women in Stephanie Reents's accomplished book of stories keep trying to get the rhythm right, the bounce between urge and intellect, where smart girls think through everything but fail to trust their gut, are driven by desire and fear, but utterly confused why they've landed in the arms of men who can't fathom them. Witty, disturbing, and tremendously entertaining, "The Kissing List" charts the body/mind dis ...more
Apr 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
This is supposed to be a series of interlocking stories about four young women, but I never felt like I got to know any of them well enough to really distinguish between them. (The exception to that is a peripheral character who has cancer, and that's really all we know about her.) I also found that it often wasn't clear at the start of a new story whose perspective it was from, which bugged me, especially because you never really got to know any of them well enough to be able to tell. I was rea ...more
Erin Herzog
Oct 11, 2012 rated it did not like it
Well this book was a waste of a rainy Sunday afternoon! The story started off ok following one character and stories about the multiple men she kissed - and sometimes more than kissed. The main character Sylvie was quirky - a little too smart for the men she found herself with and yet oddly aggressive in other areas of her life. With each following chapter, we meet another friend of Sylvie as they share their exploits of kissing men in alleys, English gardens, etc. About halfway through the book ...more
Oct 09, 2014 rated it did not like it
This story is about four young women who move from college into the working world. It tells each of their stories in a slightly connecting way.

I received the ARC so I'm not sure how many changes were made before publication. But the type was all over the page with so many errors that at times it was hard to even know where to place my eyes. The spacing was set so that there were often quite a few spaces between words. Unfortunately this allowed for strange words and type to come between them.

Thomas McNeely
May 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written, stylistically daring collection of linked stories which follows the lives of contemporary twentysomething women. "Disquisition on Tears" has already been recognized in the PEN/O. Henry Awards as an outstanding story. Each story in this collection sparkles with a unique, brash voice, and fresh approaches to timeless stories of love, loss, and self-discovery. What ties all of these tales together, however, is not only the intersection of the characters' lives, but al ...more
Jan 07, 2013 added it
I haven't watched HBO's Girls yet, but I imagine this book would closely align with it. I immediately connected, as a 20-something female grappling with life post college studying literature. Underlined this: "When she had moved to New York six years before, there were still lots of neighborhoods like the Garment District. She could remember the thrill of wnadering around Alphabet City as if she were an intrepid explorer. That was the thing about New York. It prolonged the period of disorientati ...more
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Read It Forward: * THE KISSING LIST by Stephanie Reents 3 30 May 09, 2012 09:00AM  

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Born and raised in Boise, Idaho, Stephanie Reents has lived in a shared flat in Oxford, England, a tiny studio on the wrong side of the tracks in Idaho Falls, a fifth-floor walk-up in Manhattan’s West Village, an adobe near the Sonora desert, a garden apartment in the Upper Haight of San Francisco, and the old Hamilton Watch Factory building in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

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