In Which We Like All The Things That You Like

Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.


My new boyfriend Keith is a great guy. He is very well-read, though and never lets you forget it. When he met my mom, he talked about Spenser for like fifteen minutes. Books are kind of his passion; often when we’re together he will read quietly for long periods. Sometimes this isn’t so bad – it’s better than hearing about Spenser, for example. But I’m starting to wonder if he maybe needs someone who shares his hobby. I like to read, but am I wrong to think this is extreme?

Jana S.

just plain afraid to fail

Dear Jana,

One person’s dream is usually someone else’s nightmare. Bradley Cooper talks about the theater all the time, a fact his previous girlfriend found dreadful and a situation which I assume was the thinspiration for your question.

In High Fidelity, Nick Hornby whined for upwards of thirty pages… wait, sorry I’m talking about a book. There was a movie, too. John Cusack was upset because his girlfriend, who weirdly never was in another movie after that, didn’t share his same hobbies. The odd part of it was his only discernible hobby was listening to music, which can be done conveniently during other activities, like protests against the police or masturbation.

It seems like if Keith takes the humblebragging too far in front of other people, there is a subtle way to reel him back in. Try these words, “Keith, wasn’t Spenser a murderer? No? I thought I read that. I refuse to read the words of murderers. Do you guys want to see that David Duchovny show about Charles Manson, or do you think it looks as fucking stupid as I do?” Problem solved.

As for the actual reading itself, just read the internet while he is doing this or watch The 100.


Is total silence during an orgasm normal? It’s not a very gratifying absence of sound to hear.

Alexis T.

hard to say mia nguyen

Dear Alexis,

I have heard a variety of noises which sufficiently signify for orgasms. Here are some of the best and some of the worst.

Excellent: barking, meowing, reciting the Star Spangled Banner

Mediocre: singing, talking like Chappie, whistling

Pretty Bad: humming, whistling songs, doing that annoying heart-pounding thing from The Wolf of Wall Street

Horrendous: silence, talking about the perils of taxation, death

Encourage your partner to make all noises he wants. Most people learn to be quiet when they masturbate so as not to alert others to what they are doing, and bad habits stick around longer than good ones.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

“Stone Flower” – Adam Beyer (mp3)

“That Would Be the Sun” – Adam Beyer (mp3)

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