Review of Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg

audiobook, dating, romance

Why I Chose this Book

I think at the time that I chose this book I was simply looking for another audiobook. I browsed through overdrive.com and came across a picture of comedian Aziz Ansari posing under the words Modern Romance. I don’t follow Aziz Ansari, but I knew who he was, I probably had heard a joke or two from him before and I had heard that he wrote a book on dating. I think I first heard about his book on an NPR show. Keep in mind that all of this was before Ansari was hit by the #MeToo movement.

When I initially heard about Ansari’s book, it seemed a little strange to me that a comedian would write a book about dating. It wasn’t even supposed to be a funny anecdotal book about dating, but one with actual research. Then again, I also thought, good for him for doing something atypical for a comedian; he seemed genuinely interested in the subject. Come to think of it, maybe it’s not that far-fetched for a comedian to write a research-backed book. Comedians are often considered to be thinkers and cultural critics. This route may be a natural extension for them. Maybe more should consider doing the same.

Modern Romance

Why would a comedian write a book about dating and romance?  Once, Ansari went out on a date with a woman and everything seemed to go fine. He texted her later about going out on another date sometime only to get a message that she had seen his text and started to reply but never did. Spurred by this “ghosting” incident, Ansari decided that he wanted to learn more about dating in the modern world. That’s when he teamed up with NYU university professor of sociology Eric Klinenberg to write this book.

Dating today in America is noticeably different than how it was for those who dated in the olden days, circa the 50s. For example, today, technology plays a large role in how people find dates, initiate dates, and communicate with one another. The internet, cell phones, dating apps, and websites have all become common means of finding a potential date and staying in contact. This not only makes it easier to find someone you’re attracted to, but it gives you hundreds, maybe thousands of options.

Back in time, a large portion of people married someone who lived in the same neighborhood or apartment building as them, a far cry from today. Today, we date others from different cities, states, and countries. Young people today are much more mobile than previous generations, both technologically and physically. People move outside of their neighborhoods and travel the country and the world, mostly for their careers. These fuel the increased options that young daters have today. Both modern and pretechnological dating have advantages and disadvantages though.

One advantage of modern dating is that you’re more likely to find someone that you truly enjoy being with, rather than your good-enough convenient neighbor. The downside though is having so many potential options; the more options you believe you have, the more likely you are to reject someone over the smallest annoyance knowing there are hundreds more people to find at your fingertips. Young folks of old may have had a small pool to choose from, but they also probably had less stress over deciding who to settle down with. Sort of.

In the old days, it was frowned upon for women to even leave the house before they were married. Seeking out a life independent of their parents, many women rushed to marry a suitable partner and leave the nest. Some women found themselves leaving the authority of their parents to go under the authority of a man. In the 50s, the median age of first marriage for U.S. women was 20 and 23 for men. Nowadays, it’s 27 for women and 28 for men. That’s a big difference! Today young people are spending more time getting an education and establishing their careers before settling down.

Many older women interviewed by for this book expressed some regret that they didn’t get to experience independence as a young adult free from another person as their grandkids do today. When marriage laws changed in the 70s, divorce rates skyrocketed. Then, many women were free to leave unhappy marriages they felt they entered too soon. Studies show that couples who are married after the age of 25 are far less likely to divorce.

Tips for Dating

The book isn’t just a history lesson on dating in America though, some tips are given on how to date today. One tip is to go on at least three dates with someone unless the person is a catfish or completely crazy on the first date. We often don’t get to really show all of ourselves on the first date. You’d be surprised how much more comfortable you’ll become with someone on a second date.

Before setting up a first date, don’t spend too much time texting or sending messages through whatever dating website. Set up a date. Don’t be too rushed though. Women especially, seem to prefer a period of communication first to feel comfortable with someone before meeting in person. They also seem to prefer when you ask them out that you have a specific place and time in mind.

Conclusion

Ansari and Klinenberg’s discussion of dating includes American history, dating in other countries, and tips among other things. The book comes more from a male perspective, but others can get something from it as well.

The intro to the audiobook is one of the funniest I’ve heard yet. Not your typical intro. Short, but entertaining. I even tweeted Aziz Ansari to tell him that. I don’t know if he read my message, but like Ansari in his early dating tale, I never received one back. Ansari infuses his humor throughout the book. Some jokes are pretty good, others may only cause a corner of your mouth to raise slightly. Overall, the humor’s fine though.

It is a bit ironic that Ansari has had a misfortunate dating experience become public after he published a book on dating. Perhaps Aziz Ansari should change his name to “Aziz I’m sorry.” Cue drum set. Anyway, even in light of the allegations against Ansari, I think the book still has something useful to offer.

Narration

The book is read by Aziz Ansari. There are times when Ansari really gets into it and other times when it feels like a read aloud session in your high school English class. Overall, not bad though. His asides are pretty good as well.

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