Review: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

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.

bookspoilsbookspoilsbookspoils

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Modern Romance, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: What’s It Like in Space? by Ariel Waldman

I’ve tried my hand at a few space books before, but they almost all exclusively went over my head the minute they introduced mathematical equations into their works. So with this collection I was hoping for a more down-to-earth (punny) and accessible read. Thankfully, I got just what I was seeking with this one-of-a-kind deal.

Everyone wonders what it’s really like in space, but very few of us have ever had the chance to experience it firsthand. This captivating illustrated collection brings together stories from dozens of international astronauts—men and women who’ve actually been there—who have returned with accounts of the sometimes weird, often funny, and awe-inspiring sensations and realities of being in space.

“Maybe someday this book will be as quaint as books describing what it’s like to fly in an airplane.”

What’s It Like in Space? approaches a broad range of stories, from trying to describe what space smells like, falling asleep midair in the floating environment, seeing auroras from orbit, spacewalks, insects, burping, and sneezing in space (which I’d never even thought about before), and the difficulties of traveling back home and readjusting your body to the norm. The addition of the peculiar and eccentric artwork accompanying each story added immensely to the atmosphere.

Plus, the quiet allure behind each astronaut’s tale – equal parts terrifying and amusing – drove me to ponder and speculate with a childlike wonder. Speaking of which, here are some of my favorite takes on space:What_s It Like in Space? 1-- bookspoils

What_s It Like in Space? 2-- bookspoils

What_s It Like in Space? 4-- bookspoilsWhat_s It Like in Space? 3-- bookspoils

 

What_s It Like in Space? 6-- bookspoilsWhat_s It Like in Space? 5-- bookspoils

 

What_s It Like in Space? 7-- bookspoils

What_s It Like in Space? 9-- bookspoilsWhat_s It Like in Space? 8-- bookspoils

 

What_s It Like in Space? 10-- bookspoils

What_s It Like in Space? 11-- bookspoils

What_s It Like in Space? 12-- bookspoils

What_s It Like in Space? 13-- bookspoils

 

What_s It Like in Space? 14-- bookspoils

What_s It Like in Space? 15-- bookspoils

What_s It Like in Space? 17-- bookspoils

What_s It Like in Space? 16-- bookspoils


Overall, What’s It Like in Space? was a spectacular joy to experience through words. And now more than ever am I eager for more of the similar.

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying What’s It Like in Space?, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: How to Fall in Love with Anyone by Mandy Len Catron

I let the title for this collection of essays fool me for a second there, thinking it would be some self-help junk about the magic of love and all its promises. It’s far from it, actually.

“I hated this way of talking about love, but I caught myself doing it, too. The right choice, the right person, the right kind of love, the one. Was it moral rightness or narrative rightness—a good person or a good story?”

In a series of candid, vulnerable, and wise essays that takes a closer look at what it means to love someone, be loved, and how we present our love to the world, Catron deconstructs her own personal canon of love stories. She delves all the way back to 1944, when her grandparents first met in a coal mining town in Appalachia, to her own dating life as a professor in Vancouver, drawing insights from her fascinating research into the universal psychology, biology, history, and literature of love.

Contrary to my first impression, Catron delves into the realities (not fantasies) of loving and being loved. The harms of romantic comedies in painting an unrealistic view of healthy relationships. (“When I tell people I think love stories make us worse at being in love, they are quick to agree.”) The author’s family history on love, compatibility, and divorce. Plus, there’s an emphasise on making the research inclusive with including LGBTQIA+ relationships.

However, I do have to note that How to Fall in Love with Anyone wasn’t a particularly life-changing read for me, since I was already familiar with the subject of having the media glorifying the concept of love. But it was still fascinating to get to see this blend of memoir and reportage work so well in my favor. My favorite parts by far were when the grandmother and mother were in the mix, talking about their lives and loves. I do still wish that we would’ve gotten to spend more time with those two in the second half.

“As she talked, her life veered from tragic to comic, sounding more like the plot of a good book than a real person’s experience. ”

And a list of other things I appreciated were:

  • The many mentions and recommendations of great books the author read on the topic of love. (I’ve so far added Alain de Botton’s Essays in Love, which I’m eager to get into next.)
  • Another thing I cherished was the many feminist undertones, especially when talking about rom-coms:

“Most of these stories rely on an inherent paradox: True love is the ultimate means of validation and personal transformation, and yet a virtuous woman should never pursue love directly. (Men in persecuted hero roles, on the other hand, are allowed—even expected—to woo their love interests.) Love is the means by which Cinderella and Vivian and Sixteen Candles’s Samantha get what they want: status, wealth, recognition. But these characters are rewarded for not seeking love, for cultivating silent crushes and earnest longing.”

  • Feelings of loneliness and uncertainness.

“I understood how you could leave someone and feel lost without him, and still choose that loneliness over being with him.”

  • The media’s infatuation with kismet aka meet-cutes.

“Maybe instead of telling stories about how we met our partners, we should all share our stories about the limits of love—the times it disappointed us, the apprehensions it couldn’t soothe—and why we chose it anyway, or why we let it go. We don’t need stories to show us how to meet someone—we’ve got apps for that.”

  • And finally the notion of “if you can fall in love with anyone, how do you choose?” and so much more is explored in this book.

All in all: I’m glad I decided to give a chance to How to Fall in Love with Anyone because the combination of learning about love from a scientific perspective with the author’s self-deprecating humor was a win for me. Though, I would like to mention that the notion of experiencing so many breakups over the course of this book was a bit mentally and physically exhausting for me by the end.

3.5/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying How to Fall in Love with Anyone, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!