Book Review: Modern Romance – Aziz Ansari & Eric Klinenberg

modern-romanceTitle: Modern Roance
Author: Aziz Ansari & Eric Klinenberg
ISBN: 9781594206276
Pages: 288
Release Date: June 16, 2015
Publisher: The Penguin Press
Genre: Nonfiction, Sociology
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Instead of writing a traditional memoir, comedian Aziz Ansari chose to look at things from a different point of view: what dating looks like in modern culture. Teaming up with sociologist Eric Klinenberg, Ansari provides a look at what dating and relationships are like today through anecdotal evidence, focus groups, statistics, and more.


I’m obsessed with statistics and data. I love poking through data, understanding trends, and understanding what our data says about us. I also find today’s dating climate very interesting, so you can bet that, when it came to Modern Romance, I was hooked from the second I heard about the concept of the book.
When I first learned about Aziz Ansari’s book, it sounded a lot like Dataclysm, a book by Christian Rudder that broke down data gleaned from OKCupid’s massive database. Upon reading it, though, these two book are very different. First of all, Dataclysm relies much more on hard statistics. Second, despite the fact that the data source for Dataclysm was an online dating site, the book tackled much broader themes. Modern Romance is narrower and more focused, and that works well for it.
Modern Romance feels very organic in terms of its subject matter. The data sources are numerous, from a subreddit to people whose texts Ansari read out during his comedy shows. It feels more personal, and thus more relatable. The writing is clear and easy to read; it draws you in completely and is an engaging narrative, though the style feels a bit strange. It’s funny, to be sure, but it almost feels like the funny parts are a commentary on the harder data; this might be an issue with the two authors’ work not quite meshing as seamlessly as one would hope.
That being said, Modern Romance is absolutely worth the read. It’s fascinating to see what dating in today’s world is really like, especially with (1) online dating and (2) texting, especially considering it’s been so long since I’ve been in that situation. You’d think this book would leave you dejected at the state of modern romance, but it actually doesn’t. It shows how things have changed, to be sure, but it doesn’t at all make the case that things are worse than they used to be. Dating has evolved, and that’s not just okay, it’s how things are supposed to work.

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  1. I saw Aziz on the The Daily Show promoting this book and it sounds interesting. Glad to know it’s good.

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