Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Book Review: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

From Goodreads:
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.
Writing
 My introduction to Aziz was on Parks and Rec, where he plays one of my favorite characters.  When I saw he was writing a book, I knew I'd need to read it.  And then a segment was featured on This American Life and it was hilarious.  So when I had the chance to review it, I jumped on it.  It's as hilarious as I thought it would be, but is backed up with solid research.  It's written with a sociologist and while it reads much more like humor than academics, the research they've done is fascinating.  (And horrifying - the intricacies of dating in the age of text messaging make me want to cry).  If you think Ansari is funny or if you are interested in how relationships work with today's technology (from texting to Tinder to Facebook) this is a good choice.

Entertainment Value
Hilarious.  It's a must read if you're a fan of Ansari's or a fan of his brand of humor.  My mistake here is that immediately before I read the book I listened to all of his stand up albums.  Unfortunately, the materials crosses over a lot.  Jokes that he makes in his shows tend to show up word for word in the book.  That made the read a bit less compelling for me, although the sociological aspect was new and the general tone is (somewhat) cleaner than his acts.  The two run together in my mind enough that I don't want to say for sure it's a clean book you can listen to with your kids in the car, but I can't think of anything offensive off the top of my head.

Overall
I highly recommend reading it.  The author mixes humor and research perfectly and the topic itself is fascinating.  I think the biggest thing I would change would be not to have his stand up acts so fresh in my mind.  That made it a bit repetitive.  We did purchase an audio edition for my library, which I think would have been a fun way to experience the book, since Ansari reads it himself.  At some point in the future, I'll be making a point to listen.

Thanks to Penguin Random House for providing me with a copy to review!

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