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Friday, November 20, 2015

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari & Eric Klinenberg~★★★★★

Author: Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg
Title: Modern Romance
Release Date: June 16, 2015
Publisher: Penguin Audio; read by Aziz Ansari
Genre: Non-fiction

Audio Book Cover: "At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?
Some of our problems are unique to our time. “Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?” “Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods? Combos?!” “My girlfriend just got a message from some dude named Nathan. Who’s Nathan? Did he just send her a photo of his penis? Should I check just to be sure?” 
But the transformation of our romantic lives can’t be explained by technology alone. In a short period of time, the whole culture of finding love has changed dramatically. A few decades ago, people would find a decent person who lived in their neighborhood. Their families would meet and, after deciding neither party seemed like a murderer, they would get married and soon have a kid, all by the time they were twenty-four. Today, people marry later than ever and spend years of their lives on a quest to find the perfect person, a soul mate.
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 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.
In Modern Romance, Ansari combines his irreverent humor with cutting-edge social science to give us an unforgettable tour of our new romantic world."

Taryn's Review: I love Aziz Ansari. After I moved to Nashville, the first purchase I made was a ticket to see his stand-up show that was coming to town. That said, this book wasn't initially on my radar. I knew he had released a book and I knew the title, but I really didn't know much else. After reading some comments online about how much everyone had enjoyed his book, I knew I had to give it a go.

I chose the audio book version so I could listen to it on my drive to-and-from work. I was a bit skeptical at first when Ansari admitted that he himself had never used an online dating site or app, but it's clear that Ansari and Klinenberg put a lot of work into their study to really understand online dating and modern romance. This is an incredibly data heavy book, which ran the risk of going dry, but Ansari injected humor into all the right places.

Laughs and smiles were frequent while I listened to this book. Ansari even made me feel so much more normal as the book went on, especially with his chapter on texts/messages that guys send to women (spoiler alert: they suck 90% of the time or don't respond at all). I learned so much from this book but also felt oddly comforted knowing that others experience similar issues with the online dating world. Unlike Love @ First Click, Ansari and Klinenberg do a lot of discussing about app-based dating sites like Tinder, including its history and evolution.

I also have to say I loved the way the book opened by Ansari discussing a "ghosting" experience with someone he had hooked up with. Ghosting is when someone suddenly stops all form of communication without explanation. It's confusing, it's hard to understand, and it sucks when it happens to you. I don't like that it happened to him (or anyone), but I appreciate that he added it into the book since it's something a lot of his readers have experienced as well. Ultimately, I can support Ansari's championing to think of online dating as "online introductions" that might lead to friendship or dating. That said, I'm totally envious that he asked for his current girlfriend's number in person after meeting her. In my circle of friends, that doesn't happen too often and I'm assuming fear of rejection is the reason, which Ansari does cover in the book, but the lack of real-life communication leads us all back to online sites and apps.

If you have an interest in the online dating world, check out this book. The data is awesomely interesting. Ansari and Klinenberg note that their study focused primarily on heterosexual relationships, so the book's center is on male/female relationships. And when you're done reading the book, check out Ansari's new series on Netflix called Master of None because it's great, too.

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