Modern Romance is a book by American comedian Aziz Anzari talking about contemporary relationships, or lack thereof. The book is not just filled with commentary and conjectures based on popular observation; Anzari worked in partnership with a sociologist, Eric Klinenberg, in collecting data from other sociologists’ and their studies and research, plus interviews they conducted themselves.
I cannot quite recall how I ended up with this book. I think I must have read it recommended somewhere on the internet, and since I like reading about social science, thought it would be an interesting read.
I grew up during the advent of modern technology and saw those big blocks of mobile phones turn into the small devices we have now. Before, we only had landlines which were sometimes even multiparty lines (I had eavesdropped on a lovers’ quarrel once — I was only six, forgive me)! You only met people within your community, whether that be your neighbors along the street, church, or school. I don’t recall seeing those ‘looking for love’ ads on the newspapers, and back home in a conservative country like the Philippines, that’s a bit scandalous. So maybe it didn’t exist.
Then boom goes the dynamite, and we had texting, then the internet, then 3G and 4G. Aside from being able to connect with people the world over, it is now also easier and cheaper to travel across land and sea, and people are crossing borders and state lines. Big cities like London and New York attract people of different cultures, and the chances of meeting and dating a complete stranger is higher — it’s actually normal to hear of it now! Countless dating applications on mobile phones cast the net wider, and today’s dating population now has more choice.
This is what the book looks at, and it also discusses the differences of how our parents dated and how the dating environment is at present. I love social science, and the fact that I could straddled these two points in time made it infinitely more fascinating for me. I think the book carries some weight because of the scientific factor, instead of being plain social commentary. It was also written in a funny but smart manner, and that made it a breeze to read.
If social science is something you find interesting, I think you might enjoy this one.
“Marriage was an economic institution in which you were given a partnership for life in terms of children and social status and succession and companionship. But now we want our partner to still give us all these things, but in addition I want you to be my best friend and my trusted confidant and my passionate lover to boot, and we live twice as long. So we come to one person, and we basically are asking them to give us what once an entire village used to provide: Give me belonging, give me identity, give me continuity, but give me transcendence and mystery and awe all in one. Give me comfort, give me edge. Give me novelty, give me familiarity. Give me predictability, give me surprise. And we think it’s a given, and toys and lingerie are going to save us with that. Ideally, though, we’re lucky, and we find our soul mate and enjoy that life-changing mother lode of happiness. But a soul mate is a very hard thing to find.”
– Esther Perel, in Aziz Anzari’s Modern Romance
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What type of non-fiction books do you enjoy? Anything of note that you count as a favourite?