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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Just My Type...Review

A hugely entertaining and revealing guide to the history of type that asks, What does your favorite font say about you?

Fonts surround us every day, on street signs and buildings, on movie posters and books, and on just about every product we buy. But where do fonts 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 twenty 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.

I've always been fascinated by fonts.  I worked at a national laboratory for 15 years in an administrative capacity.  I created, prepared and edited many papers and presentations.  I also watched in horror as scientists presented PowerPoint presentations filled with every kind of graphic and font imaginable.  (PowerPoint itself is a topic for another book!)  I currently edit the proceedings for an annual scientific conference.  Each year, I receive papers and presentations which were given at this conference.  I assemble, format, edit and prepare this proceedings for publication and I am still amazed at the font choices made by educated men and women as they present their scientific findings and opinions.

I always knew that there was history behind every font, but I had no idea to the extent that some fonts were loved or despised.  Fonts just show up in your computer software, you can download them from multiple places online.  Some fonts are instantly recognizable, even without seeing the actual person, place or product that font represents.  How many of us actually take the time to ponder or think about them?

Simon Garfield has written a fascinating book about the rich history of fonts and printing.  We all have our favorite fonts and in Just My Type Simon shares why certain fonts appeal.  Informative as well as a bit sardonic (I love the Brits), it's a book that can be read in order of chapters, or piecemeal.  An occasional chapter gets bogged down a bit with historical facts, but others are full of cheeky humor.  One cool thing is that the fonts mentioned are printed in the appropriate font type. 

It's easy to see why a book like this would appeal to me and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Thanks to Lisa from TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Simon Garfield here.  You can purchase your own copy here.  You can see other reviews and tour stops here.

Monday, August 15th:  Melody & Words
Tuesday, August 16th: Mockingbird Hill Cottage
Wednesday, August 17th:  Chaotic Compendiums
Thursday, August 18th:  Books Like Breathing
Monday, August 22nd:  A Home Between Pages
Tuesday, August 23rd:  Steph and Tony Investigate
Wednesday, August 24th:  1330V
Thursday, August 25th:  2 Kids and Tired
Friday, August 26th:  Amused by Books
Monday, August 29th:  Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, August 31st:  Simply Stacie
Thursday, September 1st:  BookNAround
Tuesday, September 6th:  Bibliosue
Wednesday, September 7th:  Man of La Book
Thursday, September 8th:  My Book Retreat
Monday, September 12th:  Lit and Life
Wednesday, September 14th:  In the Pages

Read 8/11

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4/5 Stars


  1. I love fonts too and think this book sounds fascinating.

  2. Thanks for the review and giveaway! This looks like a really interesting book. It's amazing what little subjects people decide to write about and actually make pretty interesting.

  3. I'm glad you enjoyed this one! Thanks for being on the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.