Tag Archives: funny

Escape the Ordinary – Brilliant Debut Authors: Modern Romance, by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg

ETO Adult Summer Reading Club_For Your LeisureSMALLER

modern romanceFive minutes after opening Aziz Ansari’s debut book I felt compelled to tweet:

“I started @azizansari’s book expecting to be thoroughly charmed. Then he started talking research methods & data and now I am in love, ok?”

This book didn’t just meet every expectation I had going in, it went so far beyond anything I had imagined that I was blown away.

And that rarely happens.

If you hadn’t already gathered, I am a fan of Aziz Ansari. I was endlessly fascinated by his performance as Tom Haverford in Parks and Recreation, a character who doesn’t have a lot of redeeming qualities, but whose charm Ansari nevertheless managed to bring through.

Tom, you slimy charmer, you.

Tom, you slimy charmer, you.

His stand-up is sharp, smart, and truly contemporary in a way that I have not seen anyone else pull off – Ansari speaks for the social media generation, those of us for whom the internet has simply been a fact of life. He has a distinct voice, one that I really appreciate and find pretty consistently funny. So of course I wanted to read his book.

The good news part one: my expectations were met! Ansari’s authorial voice is clear and present throughout Modern Romance. Although he admits in the introduction that he had been reluctant to write a book, because stand-up is really his medium, his personality and especially his humour have translated seamlessly into the written form – I honestly found myself reading the book in his voice, knowing just the tone he would have delivered many of the lines in. And if the book had only been that, I would have been more than satisfied.

But it was so much more than that.

Modern Romance is a book about the contemporary dating scene, where more and more people are meeting online, and even when we do meet in person, we do most of our communicating through the internet or our phones, by writing instead on talking. This is a major topic of Ansari’s stand-up, also, and so I thought I had a pretty good idea of what I was in for.

But the book is not just an extension or a translation of Ansari’s stand-up material. It is actually the culmination of a multi-year sociological study that Ansari undertook with Eric Klinenberg, examining modern dating behaviours, comparing them to the way dating worked for older generations, and taking in quantitative and qualitative data, all coming together into some very real perspectives and advice on navigating the world of modern romance.

Ansari takes you with him through the research process and findings, speaking always in layperson terms, and injecting his personal brand of humour into the discussions in natural and relatable ways.

It’s a great book, an engaging and enjoyable read, and one that just might make you learn something!

If you’ve read the book, I’d like to know:

  • What did you find most surprising about the study’s findings and advice?
  • What are your thoughts on Ansari’s combination of humour and social science? Did the comedy add to or take away from the book’s overall content? Were you annoyed by all that data getting in the way of Ansari’s wit? Or did work for you?
  • Do you have experience with online dating? Do you feel like the book reflected your experiences?

Mondays are murder

Perhaps you will remember my unfortunate run-in with J.A. Konrath’s “optimized-for-ereaders (but not YOUR ereader!)” Banana Hammock a few weeks ago.  Well, I didn’t let that one unfortunate incident deter me.  Oh no!  I went back to the catalogue of real books for real people and checked out Whiskey Sour, the first book in Konrath’s Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels series.

Jack Daniels is a cop in Chicago.  Jack Daniels has an admirer.  And it’s not her newly-departed ex-boyfriend.  Jack’s admirer calls himself “The Gingerbread Man,” and what he does to women belies any tender memories evoked by his name.  And he wants Jack to find him, even though he is reasonably certain that she can’t.  (What is it about psychopaths?  Why do they think that no one will ever find out who they are?)

To top it off, as though a break-up and a serial killer aren’t enough for one week, the FBI profilers have arrived.  And they are looking for someone with whom to share their wisdom!

cover image

I can tell you right now that I am going to read more books in this series.  It has all the things I love best – truly horrifying crimes (think “Criminal Minds”), a spunky female detective who is all-too-human (think “Anne of Green Gables” with a whiskey habit and a sidearm), and good humour to balance it all (think “Big Bang Theory” or “The Office,” whichever you find funnier).

And speaking of series, I haven’t done an update for awhile.  I have stacks of Northern European trauma waiting for me though!  (Camilla Läckberg and Jo Nesbø, particularly.)  Now that the weather is warming up, it might be time to venture back into the frigid darkness…

Alexandra’s Picks – Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

Age Group:
16 and up

This novel is a comic adventure about bombardier Yossarian who is desperately trying to avoid flying missions during World War II in order to stay alive. Problem is, according to army regulation Catch-22, insane men who ask to be grounded prove themselves sane through a concern for personal safety, while truly crazy people are those who readily agree to fly more missions. Therefore the only way to be grounded is to make a formal request to be relieved of such missions, but this act demonstrates sanity and therefore makes one ineligible to be relieved.

None 🙁 But it has stood the test of time, and is seen as one of the most significant novels of the 20th century. He is the man who coined the phrase “Catch-22”.

My Thoughts:
One of the funniest books I’ve ever read. A must read!

Borrow Catch 22 from your local VPL Library!

Top Three Similar Reads:
1. Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
2. Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer
3. Days of Infamy, by Newt Gingrich

Have you read Catch – 22 yet? If so, what did you think?