Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari, Eric Klinenberg
on June 16th 2015
(277 pages) • Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble
I am a huge Aziz Ansari fan and knew I would happily read one of his books, regardless of the topic, if he ever wrote one. I loved Tom in Parks and Rec and his stand-up was always so funny and so real. It doesn’t hurt that he actively calls himself a feminist and makes fun of dudes for being so shitty. I mean, he’s perfect and that’s all there is to it.
At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?
Some of our problems are unique to our time. “Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?” “Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods? Combos?!” “My girlfriend just got a message from some dude named Nathan. Who’s Nathan? Did he just send her a photo of his penis? Should I check just to be sure?”
But the transformation of our romantic lives can’t be explained by technology alone. In a short period of time, the whole culture of finding love has changed dramatically. A few decades ago, people would find a decent person who lived in their neighborhood. Their families would meet and, after deciding neither party seemed like a murderer, they would get married and soon have a kid, all by the time they were twenty-four. Today, people marry later than ever and spend years of their lives on a quest to find the perfect person, a soul mate.
For years, Aziz Ansari has been aiming his comic insight at modern romance, but for Modern Romance, the book, he decided he needed to take things to another level. He teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and designed a massive research project, including hundreds of interviews and focus groups conducted everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Wichita. They analyzed behavioral data and surveys and created their own online research forum on Reddit, which drew thousands of messages. They enlisted the world’s leading social scientists, including Andrew Cherlin, Eli Finkel, Helen Fisher, Sheena Iyengar, Barry Schwartz, Sherry Turkle, and Robb Willer. The result is unlike any social science or humor book we’ve seen before.
In Modern Romance, Ansari combines his irreverent humor with cutting-edge social science to give us an unforgettable tour of our new romantic world.
The topic of modern romance is an interesting one because clearly things have changed a lot, even within the past 5-10 years. I was intrigued to see what kind of conclusions he would come to. Sociology is one of my favorite subjects (and one of my minors in college!) so I knew that even if this book was more nonfiction-like than humor, I would be happy with it. That ended up being the case!
I have to admit, I was warned by some early reviews that the book had a lot of numbers and wasn’t really traditionally funny. I was hoping for some humor throughout (which I got) but expected more of a research-oriented book. Somehow he managed to bring both of those aspects together in a perfect combination.
“When you hear a Flo Rida song at first you’re like, ‘What is this, Flo Rida? It’s the same thing you’ve always done. I’m not listening to this song.’ And then you keep hearing it and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, Flo Rida. You’ve done it again! This is a hit, baby!’… In a sense we are all like a Flo Rida song: the more time you spend with us, the more you see how special we are. Social scientists refer to this as the Flo Rida Theory of Acquired Likability Through Repetition.”
I listened to the audiobook, which was a fucking amazing experience. He narrates it and is so funny throughout the entire thing. He makes fun of you for being lazy and listening to an audiobook, and berates you for missing out on some charts that he included in the physical copy. But seriously, hearing his voice for over 6 hours made me so gleeful. The beginning and end of the audiobook have cheesy music that he talks about and it all made me laugh out loud. I will absolutely buy the physical copy at some point (it’s actually on my Secret Sister wishlist at the moment though!) because I could see myself flipping through occasionally. Why not have both? You know what Tom always told us:
“Like most fedora wearers, he had a lot of inexplicable confidence.”
Basically this book set out to determine why modern romance and dating can be so difficult. Does technology help us or hurt us in our quest to find love? How were things different back in the day and what facilitated that change? Honestly, this book read exactly like if a comedian were to write a research paper. I loved it. I’m in a relationship of 3+ years so I have to say, I’m incredibly glad I don’t have to deal with things like Tinder or dating anymore. The internet can definitely help and hurt people when looking for love, because you overanalyze EVERYTHING. Like he says in the book, you see the little dots come up that the other person is typing – and then they disappear – so you’re like WHAT HAPPENED? Why aren’t you responding?! And then you see they’re on Twitter or posted an Instagram and you’re even more confused.
I could relate to a lot of things in this book, but not everything. I’ve never experienced Tinder and I’m simultaneously happy and sad about that. Regardless, this book is definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of Aziz Ansari no matter what he does, you’re single in the digital age, and/or you enjoy sociological research. I can’t give it a perfect score because for some reason I wanted it to be even more funny than it was, but it was so enjoyable and interesting overall! I also thought the content in the first half of the book was more interesting for some reason, but I did remain interested throughout the whole book. The whole Alfredo + donut thing fucking killed me.
No need to break the rating down when you can have THESE TWO BREAKIN IT DOWN: