Just My Type: A Book about Fonts

Just My Type: A Book about Fonts

3.8 10
by Simon Garfield
     
 

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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

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

We once thought we were seeing only letters, but now, thanks to the digital age, we know that fonts carry their own meaning. The language of typography, however, never seemed as accessible and amenable as it does in the hands of Simon Garfield. Already hailed as a classic in the UK, his Just My Type makes the tongues of these blocky slots intelligible in unprecedented ways. As one reviewer noted, Garfield's great strength is his storytelling: "His book comprises dozens of lovely vignettes, anecdotes that make a potentially dusty subject utterly compelling." Editor's recommendation.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781592406524
Publisher:
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
09/01/2011
Pages:
356
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Maira Kalman
"Did I love this book? My daughter's middle name is Bodoni. Enough said."
-Jessica Kerwin Jenkins
"Simon Garfield reveals an invisible world behind the printed word... the lives of the designers and the letters they've created have never been more clearly detailed with so much flair."
From the Publisher
"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 Starred Review
Lynne Truss
"There is even a photograph of a quick brown fox literally jumping over a lazy dog. What a clever, clever book."
Janet Maslin
“This is a smart, funny, accessible book that does for typography what Lynne Truss’s best-selling Eats, Shoots & Leaves did for punctuation: made it noticeable for people who had no idea they were interested in such things.”
Chip Kidd
"Whether you're a hardcore typophile or a type-tyro, there's something here for you: be it the eye-opening revelations of Eric Gill's utter and complete perversity, or the creation of the typeface that helped Mr. Obama gain entrance to the White House."
Jessica Kerwin Jenkins
"Simon Garfield reveals an invisible world behind the printed word... the lives of the designers and the letters they've created have never been more clearly detailed with so much flair."

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Meet the Author

Simon Garfield is the author of twelve acclaimed books of nonfiction. He lives in London and St. Ives, Cornwall, and currently has a soft spot for Requiem Fine Roman and HT Gelateria.

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Just My Type 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Man_Of_La_Book_Dot_Com More than 1 year ago
"Just My Type: A Book About Fonts" by Simon Garfield is a non­fic­tion book about fonts. After read­ing this book I will never look at signs the same way again. The book doc­u­ments the his­tory of fonts and type­faces from Guten­berg to mod­ern dig­i­tized ver­sions. Using humor the author tells of the impact of fonts on busi­ness and cul­ture. "Just My Type" by Simon Garfield is a humor­ous and enter­tain­ing book which will change the way you look at the world. Like me, most peo­ple prob­a­bly don't think much about fonts, unless they're ugly, unfit­ting or dif­fi­cult to read. As it turned out there are font afi­ciona­dos out there, enough to merit heavy dis­cus­sions on IKEA chang­ing its font and to reli­giously main­tain Inter­net groups. That is not includ­ing those whose liveli­hood depends on fonts (authors, design­ers, adver­tis­ers, etc.). f you know noth­ing about typog­ra­phy don't worry, the sec­ond chap­ter explains com­mon terms which you'll want to know because the first chap­ter already hooked you in by dis­cussing font related anec­dotes about Comic Sans. Between chap­ters there are "Font Breaks", which praise fonts, tells of font con­tro­ver­sies as well as great sto­ries about dead typog­ra­phers and inter­views with those who are still among the living. The book is a quick tour around the world, not only by look­ing at road signs, but by includ­ing movies, TV shows, album cov­ers, mag­a­zines, movies, com­put­ers and more. What I found even more fas­ci­nat­ing is the mis­use of fonts in movies, fonts that are used in time-period movies but have actu­ally been cre­ated later in history. In this lively book you'll dis­cover how fonts are picked for road signs (very impor­tant), how are they tested at high speeds and what do fonts say about prod­ucts and politi­cians. Of course one could make the very legit­i­mate argu­ment that politi­cians are prod­ucts, but that's a dif­fer­ent book. Among the many tid­bits in the book you'll find some gems such as how the @ sign is called in dif­fer­ent lan­guages (strudel in Hebrew, escar­got in French), the secrets of Rolling Stone's "R" and why the "T" is low­ered on the Bea­t­les' logo. You'll also read sto­ries about the font mak­ers and their curi­ous lives. No book about fonts will be com­plete with­out the "worst of" sec­tion. Mr. Garfield does well by stay­ing away from home made fonts and cov­er­ing only those made by pro­fes­sion­als; oth­er­wise that sec­tion would prove to be unruly. Mr. Garfield did a great job writ­ing an intrigu­ing book on, what could have been a very bor­ing sub­ject, the his­tory and analy­sis of fonts. The author com­pleted that feat by writ­ing a cheeky book about the human side and our reac­tion to fonts. An added detail to this won­der­ful book is that most of the font names are printed in that font.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Per Janet Maslin's rave in the New York Times, JUST MY TYPE deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Lynne Truss's EATS, SHOOTS & LEAVES -- and for the same word-loving audience, not just (excuse the pun) graphic design types. This is a great, fun, and eye-opening book for anyone who loves the written word. I'm someone who generally pays more attention to what words say than how the letters are formed, and yet I found this to be one of the most enjoyable books I've read in years. Might have something to do with the author being from the UK, where clever writing is clearly emphasized and appreciated. For sheer writing quality, and therefore reading pleasure, it was an actual page-turner. To say nothing of the fun of the many witty visual samples (and captions) interspersed throughout. As I've previously found with works by Malcolm Gladwell & Atul Gawande, Simon Garfield's book brought both reading pleasure and intellectual gratification in its combination of light-touch prose and behind-the-scenes history. It's not exaggerating to say this book has changed my whole perception of the reading experience from both a tactile and an historical point of view. Indeed it changes my visual appreciation of the world OUTSIDE of books in a way that hasn't happened since my sitting through two semesters of The History of Western Art in college! Immersed while on the crosstown bus, I found myself lifting my eyes to examine every awning I passed, wondering what is that font, how old is it, who chose it for this store or billboard, etc. etc. Treat yourself to appreciating the world in a new way, spotting details you may have never paid attention to before, and enjoying a few chuckles (and even a gasp or two) along the way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've been waiting for a book like this most of my life. (Yes, I was a rather odd child!) Informative, funny, and with plenty of pictures & examples of fonts, this book is fascinating. Granted, I'm obviously a geek about such matters, but some of the stories should appeal to the average public (such as the story of the uproar when IKEA changed it's font. ) Also, while I do own a Nook, I did not read this on the Nook, but on a hard-bound copy. Therefore I have no idea of the quality of the pictures & graphic examples as a Nook book. This is an excellent book for anyone interested in the printing world -- past, presentm & future. A fantastic book!
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KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
I may not be the girl who notices the small details or differences in ads or commercials, but I do love how the subtle differences in font can change the way something reads. As a bona-fide reader, I can definitely feel a difference between a more manly font compared to a more feminine font. From the history of fonts and typography to where a few fonts were specifically created, this book took a humorous and educational approach to teaching the reader what makes a font a font. At times there was a little too much education for me, but I think even your average reader would love to learn about how the art of typography has evolved, even from the production side. How the computer has completely changed how accessible fonts are? And to the job of a font designer - where is the money? A book that I am passing onto my sister a graphic designer, craft guru, but also one that I would pass onto my fellow reader. Why is one drawn to a certain font? How does Microsoft dictate what font is default? I think this book answers many questions that the typical reader may have thought from time to time.
Liv_Jo More than 1 year ago
I very much enjoyed this book; I now look at signs, menus, books in a much different way. It covers so many different themes and topics that you are not learning only about fonts, but about art and social history. If you liked Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything or At Home, I bet you will enjoy this book. It was actually fun and delightful to read while even being educational and I feel it is one of the best books I've read in the past year.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A collection of random thoughts about fonts, loosely tied together and underwhelming