Review: Modern Romance

81iwfwii1vlModern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg. Penguin, 2015.

Based on its cover alone, you may think this book would be found in the humor section. Aziz Ansari is a stand-up comedian and probably has a lot of funny things to say on the topic of modern romance. But actually this book should be placed with your non-fiction. Naturally, Aziz brings his humor into the writing style of this book, which made me laugh out loud many times. But at its core, Modern Romance is a sociological look at new dating trends in the modern age, and it’s pretty fascinating.

As a physical object, I enjoyed reading this book because it is filled with full-color charts and graphs, photographs, and an altogether attractive layout. The book covers many topics regarding modern romance, from hook-ups to break-ups, and even includes studies Aziz and Eric conducted in other countries where the dating scene is quite different than in the U.S. (For those readers of my blog not in the U.S., know that this book focuses primarily on dating culture in the U.S., except in the chapter in which they compare other dating cultures to ours. It also focuses only on heterosexual relationships – Aziz explains this in the intro to the book and says he’d need a whole other book to include all the information he wanted.)

One of the most interesting parts of the book to me were the comparisons between how dating was in previous generations versus what it is now – more specifically the fact that people aren’t getting married to those who grew up in the same town any more. There was a chart in the first chapter that detailed how close spouses lived to one another in the older generations; the majority grew up within 20 block of each other. 20 blocks! Additionally, the emergence of greater gender equality drastically changed modern romance. Women now have the life stage of “emerging adulthood,” during which it’s socially acceptable to live alone as a single women, rather than having to move straight out of their parents’ house and into their husband’s, as it was previously.

Another bit I found interesting was the fact that people looking for love these days have much higher expectations (a “soul mate” viewpoint) than earlier generations, when all you really cared about was that your partner had a stable job and wasn’t a serial killer. With the emergence of online dating, the world is literally open to us…how are we supposed to find the 1 person who “completes us” out of the seemingly countless number of people on this planet? I’ve never tried online dating, but this is definitely a concept I fear personally. When I find someone who feels right for me, how do I know there isn’t someone else out there even more right?? (Aside: I have the same problem with dress shopping. I gotta check all the stores in the mall to make sure I’m not missing out on anything before I buy the one I saw first. The difference is that you can have the clerk hold a dress for you so it won’t be nabbed by someone else while you go look for others. So maybe this isn’t a very good metaphor…)

I won’t talk about any more of the concepts in the book because you should totally go read it for yourself. I’d love to hear thoughts from anyone who did read it below in the comments, because it is a very discussion-worthy book. I highly recommend it! (Note: it contains mature content and language)

4/5 stars, because (minus the parts about other dating cultures) it didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t already know, and I like my non-fiction to do that.

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7 thoughts on “Review: Modern Romance

  1. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    This sounds really interesting! I don’t read much non-fiction but this sounds good 🙂 I was especially interested in reading about the changes in dating and romance. I’m also curious about the whole soul mate thing- cos from my perspective, I don’t believe in just one person out there for everyone, but I do have an overactive imagination and a heightened sense of romanticism- I wonder if that’s a product of our time… (sorry just musing to myself a little- getting super random :p )

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  2. Reg | She Latitude says:

    I’ve very recently finished this book too — I read some parts of it and listened to some parts of it, and I gotta say, I really enjoyed it! Four stars sound about right for how much I liked it. It didn’t teach me anything new but Aziz Ansari was quite funny, and I like the little anecdotes he has on his dating life, and it made me a bit more of an audiobook convert (this was the first audiobook I actually liked/had enough patience to listen to). I wished he went into as much detail with the Buenos Aires/France part as much as he did about Japan, though.

    It’s interesting to see how people nowadays have higher expectations in their partners, but I think that’s a trend in general with life nowadays, including career (i.e. people used to work to make ends meet but now it’s more like finding a dream job, having a dream career, work in your passion, etc).

    Great review! Sorry for the long comment, I had a lot of thoughts about this book that I haven’t had the chance to discuss with anyone. 😛

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    • RoseRead says:

      No, don’t be sorry, I love discussing! Thank you! That’s a really good point about higher expectations – I didn’t make the connection between higher expectations in romance and other facets of life, too, but that is totally true. And I also wish he would have been more detailed about France and Buenos Aires! I’m not a big audiobook person either, but I would imagine that this would be a good one to listen to because it’s Aziz. How did the charts/graphs/images work in the audiobook?

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  3. Beth Jones says:

    This sounds really interesting! I love your ‘not a serial killer’ sentence haha. So true! I actually met my first boyfriend (of over 2 years) online, but you do tend to have a lot of doubts. In the end it turned out we weren’t right for each other and I left him early this year (don’t be sorry, to put it bluntly it’s the best thing I’ve done in a long time haha). Weirdly, the dress shop analogy actually works! I completely agree with you, lol

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