Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Just My Type: A Book About Fonts

Title:  Just My Type - A Book About Fonts
Author:  Simon Garfield
Publication Information:  Penguin Group, Inc. 2011. 356 pages.

Book Source:  I read this book based on a write-up in a book magazine.

Favorite Quote:  "Let's consider the English alphabet:  twenty-six purely abstract symbols that in and of themselves mean absolutely nothing, but when put together in the right combinations can introduce into the heads of readers an infinite variety of sounds, smells, tastes, feelings, places, people, characters, situations, feelings, ideas. In the right hands entire universes are born out of just a few sentences, and can be just as quickly destroyed. Regimes are upended and then re-created through these groups of little, seemingly harmless, glyphs."

Just My Type - A Book About Fonts - is a book exploring the history of of type and their impact on our world. Rather than being a historical tome, it is a collection of interesting tales of different individuals and companies and how a font came to be or how it impacted our lives. Admittedly, it is not a topic many people think about. However, if you enjoy language and history, you will find this a fascinating read.

Driving around, reading, watching TV, reading product labels, opening packages - have you ever noticed that we are constantly surrounded by the printed word? Do you think about how those letters and words come across? What happens if words we are used to seeing a certain way suddenly appear differently? Did you know that behind each typeface and font is an individual or a set of individuals - designers and artists - who determine how every letter looks, how much space it takes up, and how much space goes in between each letter? This book addresses these questions and many more through specific stories.

You can read this book cover to cover, or you can flip through the different chapters. Some of the different stories about fonts can stand alone. The bulk of this book is typeset in Sabon Lt Std 11/15 pt. The story of this font itself is found within the book. In addition, examples of different fonts and what they look like abound throughout the book making it fun to browse through even without reading it.

If you are a "typophile" or a studier of modern culture and design or if you have wondered why words look the way they do, this book will provide interesting reading. 

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