Not Just Another Grouchy Grammarian

Musings about language, books, grammar, and writing in general

Required Reading

First, a bit of administrivia: A “Required Reading” post will be about a book (or books) I think is noteworthy, and want to pass on to others. Your Grouchy Grammarian is nothing if not an avid reader.

Also, if you all have any books you want to recommend to me, please feel free to do so. I totally acknowledge that the list of books I want to read will a) never be finished, and b) can always use additions.

Oh, and I apologize for being a day late with this entry. I plead being brain-dead from cold medications for much of Saturday.


I can think of no better book to start the “Required Reading” series than the one I am currently reading, Dick Cavett’s 2010 book, TALK SHOW.

TALK SHOWI had picked up the book, on loan from my local library, as something to dip into before falling asleep. I should have known better. I have not slept. I have only stopped reading to type this column.

I am old enough to vaguely remember Mr. Cavett’s talk shows. My mother and I were avid fans of his, pegging him as being among the more literate and intelligent talk show hosts of the era. We were genuinely sorry when his how ended, but lost track of him after that — not surprising, given that we were busy living our lives.

However, a friend on Goodreads recommended the book, so I reserved it at the library.

I’m glad I did.

The first essay in the book, “It’s Only Language,” dates from February 4th, 2007, but will still ring true for those of you who consider themselves language lovers. His other essays are equally fascinating, dealing with a wide variety of subjects related to his show, some of the celebrities who appeared on it, his columns for The New York Times, and reader reaction to those, his analysis of the television show, The Sopranos, and tidbits about himself.

It’s written in the wonderfully chatty style that both Mr. Cavett and Johnny Carson (for those of us who are old enough to remember them) brought to the screen, which makes for great reading. It’s intelligent, literate, pointed (on occasion), and totally disarming.  Small wonder that so many people felt comfortable baring themselves on camera when he was the host.

Anyway, this is a wonderful book, with a lot in there for those of us who love language, and I highly recommend it.

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