Book Review: Modern Romance

“I hope you aren’t holding an ice cream cone against your chest, ’cause your heart just warmed—and your ice cream just melted.”
― Aziz Ansari, Modern Romance: An Investigation

Book Title: Modern Romance
Author: Aziz Ansari
Publication Date: 2015
Genres: Nonfiction, Humor
Goodreads Rating: 3.84 Stars
My Rating: 4 Stars

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.

1. Perfect vacation read. I picked up Aziz Ansari’s book in the airport, which, in my opinion, is the best place ever to buy books. It means you’re on a (hopefully relaxing) trip, about to settle in for a good 2 hour reading session. And this book did not disappoint. I was literally laughing out lout on the airplane, which embarrassed my brand new husband quite a bit. Plus, it’s really easy to put down and pick back up. The book is organized really well, and you will never feel like you’re going to get lost if you don’t keep reading immediately, hence the vacation read status.

2. HILARIOUS. Ok, I love Aziz Ansari. His stand up is amazing, Parks and Rec is my jam, and his show Master of None is engaging, funny, and so very real. But… when picking up this book, I was a little worried that it would read like an academic study because that’s really what it is. Little did I know how great Aziz’s humor would come across in his writing. Like I said before, I was laughing at loud in very public places. Also, do not skip the footnotes.

3. But so very real. This book was eye-opening. Even as an old married lady (when I read the book, I had been married for a full 72 hours, so I obviously know everything), this book held my attention. They studied online dating, the population crisis in Japan, why Brazilians are so creepy, and why Americans are so scared of committing. The most interesting part for me was the comparison between previous generations and our own when it comes to dating. The whole thing was really eye-opening in an awesome way.

Aziz Ansari’s book reads like an interesting academic study that was written by a stand-up comedian — basically the only way I want to read any academic study ever again.

“Like most fedora wearers, he had a lot of inexplicable confidence.”

“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.”

“The world is available to us, but that may be the problem.”

“We want something that’s very passionate, or boiling, from the get-go. In the past, people weren’t looking for something boiling; they just needed some water. Once they found it and committed to a life together, they did their best to heat things up. Now, if things aren’t boiling, committing to marriage seems premature.”

“The most popular time to sext is Tuesday between 10:00 A.M. and noon. Yes, we looked this up twice. Strange!”

For More Book Reviews — For My Current Reading Challenges — For More Book Recommendations

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