Modern Romance: A Modern Voice on an Age-Old Subject

Rating: 4/5 stars

Review: I have to preface this review by saying this book is written by Aziz Ansari, a standup comedian who played Tom Haverford on Parks and Recreation (see video below).

If you don’t like Aziz, don’t read Modern Romance.

If you do like Aziz, we agree on something! After reading this, I’m pretty sure he actually is Tom Haverford. His voice came through loud and clear in each fact, graph, and strange stock photo caption. I heard his intonations and saw his hand gestures in every sentence.

Modern Romance is not a humor book; it’s a nonfiction book about how romance functions in society today–but it’s told in a humorous voice. I’m not a huge reader of non-fiction, meaning I only read it for school. Even then, it’s rare for me to read the whole book.

So the fact that I wanted to read this book was exciting in and of itself. The fact that I kept reading it until the end…speaks volumes. #bookpuns

I read this while camping (apologies to whomever checks it out of the library next and wonders why it smells like bonfire) and I would frequently laugh out loud, then explain the passage that had me cracking up. My mother knows most of the book now.

Here’s an example of one such passage:

Start doing even the slightest research into Japan and love, and you’ll quickly find sensational articles describing a full-blown crisis. According to demographers, journalists, and even the Japanese government, it’s a hot potato.

Sorry, I needed another word for “crisis,” and when I entered the word “crisis” into, it suggested “hot potato” as a synonym. I could not write this book without letting you know that lists “hot potato” as a synonym for “crisis.”

The book has a very casual, humorous tone, but Aziz and co-researcher Eric Klinenberg make some good points. They combine research from other books, interviews, online dating sites, a Reddit forum, and focus groups worldwide. Aziz focuses on the role of technology in romance today–particularly in the forms of texting and online dating. He also addresses how romance varies around the world and in cities versus small towns.

Aziz calls out younger generations on their reluctance to commit for fear of missing “something better.” He also draws attention to “straight white boy texts,” how waiting to respond to a text makes the recipient feel, the best dating environments, cheating and snooping via technology, etc. For each topic, Aziz uses research to back up his claim.

Honestly, this book helped me feel more comfortable about being single in today’s world. The average age for women to get married at is 28? I have plenty of time. Other people look up people they’re attracted to on social media, too? I’m not the only one! And wondering how long to wait before responding is a normal thing? Thank goodness!

Despite the humorous voice and reassuring facts of Modern Romance, it’s basically what I expected. It’s a wide variety of interesting information told in an interesting voice–and it lacks mind-blowing conclusions. I know technology has transformed the modern world; I know we’re more focused on finding a soul mate rather than a companion today; I know people don’t respond as humanely over text as they might face-to-face. I think this is pretty much common knowledge, though many of the statistics and studies used to support these conclusions were new and intriguing. Still, I feel like Modern Romance was on it’s way to something profound, but didn’t quite make it.

*A note to people who’ve seen Aziz’s standup: I watched the Netflix movie of Aziz at Madison Square Garden and several of his anecdotes and punchlines about relationships are repeated in this book. There are plenty of other good jokes and stories in the book, too, but I figured you’d want a heads up.

Recommendation: This book has  mature material and language–it’s written by a secular comedian, after all. I’d recommend it for college students and older. People born in the 1980s or 90s will probably appreciate the information and pop culture references most. If the subject sounds interesting and/or you enjoy Aziz’s work, definitely add this book to your to-read list.

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