Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Just My Type: A Book About Fonts, by Simon Garfield

When I told a friend I was reading a book about fonts, she responded that I must be hard up. But I found this book entertaining. As someone who chooses type for various projects with very little knowledge of the suitability of specific fonts for specific purposes, I found Garfield's discussion interesting (I still doubt it will really improve my selections--and to improve that I changed the font for this entry to Trebuchet). I also was fascinated by the controversies that font changes can cause, particularly when a company changes its signature type--evidently Ikea's switch from Futura to Verdana created a huge fontroversy (how did I not know?). I also loved the language used to describe fonts--"structural but sensual," "open and human," "irreverent and naive,"  "a nicely rounded semi-formal humanist font," "slightly space-age, rooted and implacable."  And who would have thought that, to type aficionados, "Done well, an '&' is not so much a character as a creature, an animal from the deep"? Really? Really. Just My Type is a look into a topic and a subculture most of us are unaware of and, as such, is sometimes fascinating . . . but also occasionally a bit tedious. 

Favorite passage:
. . .  the book typographer's job was building a window between the reader inside a room and that landscape which is the author's words. He may put up a stained glass window of marvelous beauty, but a failure as a window; that is, he may use some rich superb type like Text Gothic that is something to be looked at, not through.

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