If you have watched Parks and Recreation or the far more interesting Master of None you know who Aziz Ansari is and you probably find him funny (I think he is hilarious but others will either disagree or agree with that assessment). His stand-up is crass and his character in Parks and Recreation is incredibly small minded so what would you expect from this guy in terms of a valuable assessment of the modern dating/marriage/romance scene? You probably wouldn’t expect an academic analysis of sociological phenomena, but that is what you get—it isn’t boring but deeply interesting and laugh out loud funny. I think his curiosity in the subject combined with his ability (which is enhanced by his fame and wealth) to engage academics who actually research this stuff made this book far more engaging than a dry academic review of the literature would have been and far more valuable than a collection of funny dating stories that a comedian might have produced on his own. Aziz reading the book to me and mocking me for being lazy only made it more fun. (I should note that he didn’t just ask some professors what they thought about romance, he teamed up with NYU Sociologist Eric Klinenberg as co-author to make sure the information shared was as legitimate and up date as possible while still being entertaining.)
Here are some nuggets I found interesting:
Do you know how geographically near couples lived before they got married back in the day and do you know what that typical distance is for couples now?
- Well it is definitely different. Before many people married someone in their neighborhood (like me!) and now that is far less common and more people are meeting their future spouse in college or even later which most often makes the distance between their respective home towns great rather than small.
Do you know what herbivore men are?
- Sexually/relationship shy men in Japan
Do you know what cultures are sexually aggressive vs sexually promiscuous?
Do you know the difference between passionate love and companionate love?
Is the digital age and smartphones everywhere changing the way we date and find love?
- For sure it has and is changing things, but it isn’t all horrible nor is it all great. It sure is interesting though!
Well if those things make you curious I suggest you check out Modern Romance (and go for the audio version because it is way more fun hearing the intentional humor from Aziz than imagining what it might sound like).