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Just My Type: A Book About Fonts by Simon…

Just My Type: A Book About Fonts (2010)

by Simon Garfield, Simon Garfield

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,821996,383 (3.85)86
A romp through the history of fonts and the lives of the great typographers, revealing the extent to which fonts are not only shaped by but also define the world in which we live.
  1. 10
    The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst (Oct326)
    Oct326: Il saggio di Simon Garfield è una chiacchierata leggera, leggibile, con un pizzico di umorismo, ma superficiale e poco consistente. Chi è interessato all'argomento dovrebbe leggere qualcosa di più sostanzioso. Ad esempio il manuale di Bringhurst: è un po' specialistico, ma non puramente tecnico; è profondo e meditato.… (more)
  2. 10
    Introduction to typography by Oliver Simon (librorumamans)
  3. 00
    A Place For Everything: The Curious History of Alphabetical Order by Judith Flanders (nessreader)
    nessreader: Two entertaining books about letters for the general public, garfield on fonts and flanders on alphabetical order.
  4. 00
    Design with Type by Carl Dair (librorumamans, librorumamans)
  5. 00
    While You're Reading by Gerard Unger (bluepiano)
    bluepiano: Garfield's book gives useful information and a good overview; Unger, a designer of type, gives food for thought.
  6. 00
    Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton (Oct326)
  7. 01
    Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Learn to appreciate an underappreciated facet of print and language
  8. 01
    Quirky Qwerty: A Biography of the Typewriter and Its Many Characters by Torbjorn Lundmark (glade1)
    glade1: A book about the individual characters on a keyboard and their histories. Fun and interesting for those who love letters.
  9. 01
    Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, and Other Typographical Marks by Keith Houston (kmg387)

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» See also 86 mentions

English (92)  Spanish (2)  Swedish (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (100)
Showing 1-5 of 92 (next | show all)
Super interesting, I've never really paid much attention to fonts, but it opened my eyes and I'll be keeping watch. ( )
  Wanda-Gambling | May 9, 2020 |
Best for:
Those who enjoy a bit of trivia about common things; those interested in graphic design.

In a nutshell:
A history of fonts, with a focus on some of the better-known ones.

Worth quoting:
“If all letters were exactly the same height they wouldn’t appear so: round and pointed letters would appear shorter.”
“They established that it is a lot easier to read lower-case letters than capitals when travelling at speed.”

Why I chose it:
I love this kind of shit.

There’s not a ton I can say about this book that isn’t just be sharing interesting trivia I learned. Like, as referenced above, researchers have determined that it’s better to put location names on roadsigns with upper case starts followed by lower case letters. It’s because one looks for the shape of the word, not the individual letters. And so can spot the shape they’re looking for before they can read the word.

Do you find that nugget of information interesting? Then this book is for you.

Author Garfield takes us on a trip that isn’t so much chronological as focused on subject areas. He shares the history of some well-known fonts (starting with Comic Sans!) and why they come to be. He also looks at issues like: do fonts have a gender? A nationality? Do they evoke a time period to you?

He also shares some of the more technical things about fonts. For example, what makes a font easier to read online makes it more difficult to read on paper and vice versa. Which is super annoying for me in my work, as I produce many documents that need to be readable in both formats.

This is a fairly niche book but it’s also accessible. If you’re looking for a gift for someone who you think might enjoy this type of thing, they probably will like this one.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Donate it. ( )
  ASKelmore | Dec 1, 2019 |
Fascinating and enlightening. This book made me think of the font used in a situation for the first time in a long time, and I finally got some insight into why Comic Sans is so reviled. This book also reveals a sort of subculture of font enthusiasts, of which I was not aware, and lists the most hated fonts ever produced.

Throughout, it lists the history of the font in question and lists interesting factoids about a lot of them. For instance, did you know that the creator of Gill Sans was a sexual deviant? Weird stories lifted straight from his journal list his trysts with his sister, his daughter and in one case, his dog. Whoa.

Generally the fonts are listed according to place of origin, but as the guy says in the book, it is difficult to classify a font. It never seemed disorganized to me, though I don't claim expertise in this matter.

It also brings to light the men and women that design our text and signs. Like the text I'm using right now... someone actually went and created this font letter by letter, symbol by symbol. I don't know if it was digitally produced or done by hand, but the point is that someone had to go and make this.

So all in all, I really liked this book. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
Pop commentary on fonts. Cute but wish it went deeper. ( )
  Paperpuss | Feb 25, 2019 |
Friendly and informative primer on type makes a nice if slightly jejune introduction to the topic. Garfield is from Cornwall and his book seems in some fundamental way very English: kindly but slightly dotty, a bit feckless, and utterly humor-impaired. Strangely enough, the book itself seems to me, design-wise, to be a rather horrifying mish-mash. The American edition contains an overly clever foreword from ubiquitous uber-desiger Chip Kidd. ( )
  MikeLindgren51 | Aug 7, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 92 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Simon Garfieldprimary authorall editionscalculated
Garfield, Simonmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Alexander, JamesDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kidd, ChipForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zuppet, RobertaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In Budapest, surgeons operated on printer's apprentice Gyoergyi Szabo, 17, who, brooding over the loss of a sweetheart, had set her name in type and swallowed the type.
Time magazine, 28 December 1936
To Ben and Jake
First words
On 12th June 2005, a fifty-year-old man stood up in front of a crowd of students at Stanford University and spoke of his campus days at a lesser institution, Reed College in Portland, Oregon.
Legibility, in practice, amounts simply to what one is accustomed to.
- Eric Gill
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Just My Type is a book of stories about fonts. It examines how Helvetica and Comic Sans took over the world. It explains why we are still influenced by type choices made more than 500 years ago, and why the T in the Beatles logo is longer than the other letters. It profiles the great originators of type, from Baskerville to Zapf, as well as people like Neville Brody who threw out the rulebook. The book is about that pivotal moment when fonts left the world of Letraset and were loaded onto computers, and typefaces became something we realized we all have an opinion about. And beyond all this, the book reveals what may be the very best and worst fonts in the world – and what your choice of font says about you.
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