Love Illuminated: Exploring Life's Most Mystifying Subject (with the Help of 50,000 Strangers)

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Overview

Love is unrivaled in its power to thrill, crush, and sustain. No subject in human history has been more thoroughly examined. And yet, as desperately as we have tried to unlock love's mysteries—to "decode" it through scientific experimentation, philosophical inquiry, and even mathematical algorithms—do we really understand love any better today than Shakespeare did nearly five hundred years ago?

As the editor of a column about love in the New York Times, Daniel Jones has been ...

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Love Illuminated: Exploring Life's Most Mystifying Subject (with the Help of 50,000 Strangers)

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Overview

Love is unrivaled in its power to thrill, crush, and sustain. No subject in human history has been more thoroughly examined. And yet, as desperately as we have tried to unlock love's mysteries—to "decode" it through scientific experimentation, philosophical inquiry, and even mathematical algorithms—do we really understand love any better today than Shakespeare did nearly five hundred years ago?

As the editor of a column about love in the New York Times, Daniel Jones has been privy to the deepest personal revelations of tens of thousands of strangers. Deluged with stories of scheming cheaters, hopeless romantics, racy texts, and fierce devotion, he has spent much of the past decade wading through love's muck and majesty—and has taken plenty of notes along the way. In Love Illuminated, he uses his unique perspective to tease apart life's most mystifying subject.

Drawing from the 50,000 tales of love that have crossed his desk, Jones traces the arc of human relationships through ten phases, starting with the pursuit, destiny, vulnerability, connection, and trust of new love, and then turning to the practicality, monotony, infidelity, loyalty, and wisdom of love matured. With empathy and wry humor, he takes readers on an enlightening journey through the highs, lows, and enduring unknowns of this universal experience that rattles the head and stirs the heart.

As Jones explains, "Love is about curiosity, not certainty. It's about tossing oneself overboard into the wild seas, not remaining safely on deck."

In Love Illuminated, he pulls us into the depths of love in all its contradictions and complexities, offering glimmers of understanding along with the comforts of shared experience.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Caitlin Flanagan
Jones has a light touch. This is less Helen Fisher, with her M.R.I.'s and neural pathways, and more Helen Gurley Brown, with her snappy catchphrases and titillated bedroom peeping…And, like the Helen Gurley Brown enterprise, Love Illuminated presents itself as a report on the most happening, most now kind of "love," yet at heart supports a life philosophy as conventional as Cosmopolitan's. Because what the book is really about is what everything from Sex and the City to Fifty Shades of Grey is really about: marriage. For all of its celebration of the "modern," the off-kilter and the nontraditional, the pounding pulse of Love Illuminated is the poignant quest for a legal and permanent union.
Publishers Weekly
01/27/2014
Editor of the popular New York Times column "Modern Love," Jones shares lessons learned over nearly a decade of reading contributors stories of love, dating, marriage, and all of their inherent calamities. Some stories are remarkable, a couple meet in Bangkok only to realize they are from the same small town in Alberta, Canada; others are quirky, a woman determined to date a pilot for the free flights. Jones provides insight on online dating and its pitfalls, the idea of destiny, and what it means to be truly devoted. He further explores "hookup culture" and vulnerability, recalling a woman who kept a storage unit filled with household supplies, a "single girl's starter kit," in case her relationship ended. In "Marriage 101," Jones addresses topics like settling on a last name in a way that "doesn't somehow honor the patriarchy" (easy solution—find and marry someone who already shares your last name), and fair division of labor, childcare, and household chores. Though he insists he is no expert, there is plenty of useful knowledge to be gleaned from Jones and his 50,000 helpers and his delivery and sense of humor make the education more palatable. (Feb.)
Elle
“A provocative, insightful, and deeply humane meditation on ‘life’s most mystifying subject’... Jones ... proves an exceptional guide — droll, compassionate, nonjudgmental — through all of love’s many phases.”
Elle
“A provocative, insightful, and deeply humane meditation on ‘life’s most mystifying subject’... Jones ... proves an exceptional guide — droll, compassionate, nonjudgmental — through all of love’s many phases.”
Library Journal
09/15/2013
Editor of "Modern Love," featured in the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times, Jones pulls from the 50,000 pieces he's considered since the popular column's 2004 inception to create a narrative of love. With a 75,000-copy first printing.
Kirkus Reviews
2014-01-09
A lively, anecdotal examination of the mystifying and treacherous landscape of dating and love. New York Times "Modern Love" columnist Jones states that he doesn't consider himself an expert in the dating and marriage game, and the book will disappoint those seeking definitive advice for dating, finding true love or making relationships work. Instead, the author breaks down the wisdom he has garnered from reviewing and editing 50,000 (and counting) readers' love stories and laments. Although he offers no hard and fast rules or absolutes, Jones makes several observations about the state of modern romantic relationships and what he sees as permanent changes to the dating landscape, filed under irreverent chapter subheadings like "Destiny: So What's Wrong With You?" and "Trust: Avoid Everybody." The author demonstrates how the metrics of one particular dating website focused his attention on several appropriate candidates, but not with his wife, to whom he has been married for more than 10 years. He explains this is due to the fact that when users intensify their focus—as online dating sites encourage their members to do—they tend to lose their peripheral vision, which involves serendipity, the possibility of compromise and, if you believe in it, destiny. Another enlightening section reveals how modern social mores and technology have created new ways of connecting without genuine communication—e.g., booty-texting and hooking up; emailing, e-chatting, blogging, Tweeting and Skyping. Jones pointedly labels this new frontier of the search for love the "Soul Mate In A Box." The author does not provide reassurance to the baffled, frustrated and lovelorn; he notes that "the case with almost anyone who's feeling unwanted and hopeless is they simply haven't met the right person." Unfortunately, "some people never do." Amusing and heartening.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062211163
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/4/2014
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 120,777
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Jones

Daniel Jones has edited the Modern Love column in the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times since its inception in October 2004. His books include two essay anthologies, Modern Love and The Bastard on the Couch, and a novel, After Lucy, which was a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award. His writing has appeared in several publications, including the New York Times, Elle, Parade, Real Simple, and Redbook. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, with his wife, writer Cathi Hanauer, and their two children.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2014

    Wonderful sense of humor and great stories. A fast read that giv

    Wonderful sense of humor and great stories. A fast read that gives you a look into love in its myriad forms. Favorite parts are about technology (chap 4) and infidelity (chap 8).

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