Modern RomanceModern Romance by Aziz Ansari
Published by Penguin Press

From the publisher:

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.

This book was exactly what I expected, and that’s a good thing. I was hoping for a smart, funny look at dating in the modern world and how things have evolved and changed over the years, with a few jokes throughout – and that’s what Ansari gave me.

I particularly enjoyed what Ansari and Klinenberg learned from the focus groups in other countries. It’s always interesting to me to learn how people in other cultures do things, so learning about how twentysomethings in Tokyo meet people and find love as opposed to how it’s done in Buenos Aires was fascinating. Even among different parts of the US there are vast differences – for example, dating in New York City, where there are tons of young single people to meet at any given moment, is completely different from dating in a small town where people mostly can only date people they’ve known since elementary school.

I guess I don’t have a lot to say about this one, but I really enjoyed it. It was highly entertaining and Ansari is funny even when he’s talking about the most mundane of topics. Also, I listened to the audio which was a great choice because Ansari narrates it himself, and is able to use the proper inflections and changes in tone, which is especially helpful when he’s being funny.

If you’re a fan of Ansari, don’t miss the book. If you’re interested in dating in the modern world, don’t miss this book. If you’re zero percent interested in either of those things, Modern Romance may not be the book for you. But I really liked it!