Fonts surround us every day, on street signs and buildings, on movie posters and books, and on just about every product that we buy. But where do they come from, and why do we need so many? Who is responsible for the staid practicality of Times New Roman, the cool anonymity of Arial, or the irritating levity of Comic Sans (and the movement to ban it)?
Typefaces are now 560 years old, but we barely knew their names until about 20 years ago when the pull-down font menus on our first computers made us all the gods of type.
Beginning in the early days of Gutenberg and ending with the most adventurous digital fonts, Simon Garfield explores the rich history and subtle powers of type. He goes on to investigate a range of modern mysteries, including how Helvetica took over the world, what inspires the seeming ubiquitous use of Trajan on bad movie posters, and exactly why the all-type cover of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus was so effective. It also examines why the "T" in the Beatles logo is longer than the other letters and how Gotham helped Barack Obama into the White House.
A must-have book for the design conscious, Just My Type's cheeky irreverence will also charm everyone who loved Eats, Shoots & Leaves and Schott's Original Miscellany.
©2011 Simon Garfield (P)2011 Tantor
"A lively companion to books such as Robert Bringhurst's essential Elements of Typographic Style (1992) and John Lewis's classic Typography: Design and Practice." (Kirkus)
Great book, but I was disappointed that there was no accompanying pdf to display the typefaces. Since this is a big part of the print book experience, it's a dumb oversite. The "pdf extras" on the publisher page is a list of websites, not any of the book's necessary illustrations.
I have no idea why I suddenly became interested in typography. Blame it on old fashioned curiosity and the infectious nature of the endless resources of the Internet.
Along with this sudden interest in Typography I had an interest in learning how to use iBooks Author, so I combined the two interests by deciding to write my own textbook about fonts - not for the purpose of publishing a textbook, but rather as a means to understand all those fonts that I have accumulated over time.
Now I already knew that there was a documentary called Helvetica and I wanted to know just how someone could find so much to document about a single font. I still haven't seen the documentary, although I plan to, but now I know that there is a great deal to learn about this entire field of typography and my curiosity to learn more led me to Audible where I simply typed the word fonts into the search bar.
Up came the title Just My Type. As usual, I listened to the sample, left the website, thought about it and again returned, listened, thought about it some more, and finally decided to get the audiobook.
I am glad I did.
Information for a lifetime
There is almost too much information to digest the first few times around. I did listen to it all the way to the end, although I fell asleep halfway through and missed a good number of chapters. It was a bit strange waking up in the morning in the middle of chapter 15, my iPod still retaining a battery only a quarter down from fully charged.
I have already discovered more resources on the Internet as a result of the pdf file mentioned at the beginning of the audiobook which can be found at this website.
Two for One - A Reference in delightful narrative
The book is full of facinating stories on all kinds of things connected to fonts. There is a mixture of detailed description of the appearance of fonts, the reaction of professionals and the rest of us to this appearance, some of this reaction reaching fever pitch.
As I began to listen to the audiobook, there were names and terms that I needed to look up. While I had already heard some of these, there were many new ones.
While you might enjoy just listening from beginning to end, I have decided that it is better to listen while you are at your computer so you can stop the audiobook every so often and do more searching on people, places, and terminology.
Once I have a better grasp of this world of fonts, perhaps I will listen again straight through, although I fear that I will forever be lost in this world of fonts. But really, that's not such a bad place to be.
I enjoyed the writing as well as the recorded audiobook. If you are curious about this world of fonts, there is a wealth of material in this selection. I'm delighted that I made the decision to add this to my library.
I stumbled upon the world of typography by accident and have become fascinated with the vast, arcane universe that lies behind the printed words we take for granted. Anyone who is interested in the strange history of how everyday things come into being, or the entertainingly eccentric symbology and politics of letterforms will love this collection of short chapters dealing with type creators, typefaces and their impact on everyday life.
The print version could have used its advantage of having a canvas to provide examples of the fonts mentioned, but since it doesn't, the audiobook is all gain. I love qualified opinions on design. Most recommended.
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