In Modern Romance, Ansari combines his irreverent humor with cutting-edge social science to give us an unforgettable tour of our new romantic world.
“The world is available to us, but that may be the problem.”
Fun fact: I actually started 2017 with this read, but at the time it didn’t feel relevant enough for me to get the most out of it, so I put the book down. Fast forward to November, when I discovered the wonder that is the Hidden Brain podcast, where it featured an episode with Aziz Ansari sharing laugh-out-loud funny excerpts from Modern Romance. After having a genuinely good time listening to his voice on the podcast, I was convinced to take another shot with the audiobook.
And having watched and completely loved Ansari’s Netflix show Master of None back in May when the second season was released (check out my May 2017 Reading Wrap Up to read more of my ravings on that), I was more than ready to dive back into his world. Plus, I’m glad I got to read the book a while after having watched the show because the many parallels of my favorite scenes from the show being present in here were beyond gratifying to experience again.
Modern Romance interweaves stream of consciousness storytelling with scientific research that will ultimately make you see your own life through a different lens. Thankfully, though, the book has a generous mix of absurdity and depth. Aziz Ansari tackles head-on the subject of culture and technology and the ways they’ve shaken romance, and he provides us with “a much richer understanding of the new romantic landscape.” But Ansari never fails to include a much-needed comical anecdote or food reference to lighten up the text. Speaking of which, here’s a passage from the first chapter that sealed the deal for me:
“To be honest, I tend to romanticize the past, and though I appreciate all the conveniences of modern life, sometimes I yearn for simpler times. Wouldn’t it be cool to be single in a bygone era? I take a girl to a drive-in movie, we go have a cheeseburger and a malt at the diner, and then we make out under the stars in my old-timey convertible. Granted, this might have been tough in the fifties given my brown skin tone and racial tensions at the time, but in my fantasy, racial harmony is also part of the deal.”
That’s my exact thought process with people who tend to romanticize the past.
The only downfall to this book was that, though it highlights a vast set of issues related to modern romance and emerging adulthood, it does so in a very narrowed down look, specifically centered around American middle-class straight couples. But to give credit where credit is due, there are a couple of chapters dedicated to exploring romance in other parts of the world, such as Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Paris, and Doha.
All in all: I’m just glad I finally got around to reading Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance with the end of the year in sight.