Just My Type: A Book About Fonts
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Just My Type: A Book About Fonts

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  8,532 ratings  ·  877 reviews
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...more
Hardcover, 356 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Gotham (first published 2010)
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 4.5* of five

***UPDATE 6 Sept 2013***I watched a documentary on Netflix last night called...yes...Helvetica! It was made for Helvetica's 50th anniversary in 2007. I think anyone who liked the idea of this book would enjoy it.

The Publisher Says: 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....more
Will Byrnes
Updated - 7/9/13 - see link at bottom

I am hardly a monogamous sort. I find that I am regularly attracted to different types. Sometimes I like them with big bowls. I am definitely fond of zaftig with strokable, curvy edges, sometimes I prefer something a bit more conservative, upright, familiar. And rarely, slender even, maybe with sharp edges. Occasionally I go for something way out there, maybe with spikes or exploding bits. Ok, you can put your filthy mind back where it belongs now. We are tal...more
Amanda
Drowning. Feuds. Nazis. Bestiality. Probably not topics you expect to find in a book about fonts. Granted, the drowning was of the Doves font (its creator threw the matrices and the metal letters into the Thames river instead of bequeathing his perfect font to anyone else after his death). And the feuds range the gamut from public backlash over IKEA changing its font from Futura to Verdana to the online movement against Comic Sans (the world's worst font, allegedly). And detail-oriented Nazis de...more
Richard
This book answers such basic questions as: What exactly is a typeface? What's the difference between a typeface and a font? What specific features make them good or bad--assuming one can qualify them subjectively in this way? Why are there so many? And why do people keep designing more? Why are some so well liked, whereas others are almost universally mocked and vilified? Why are old ones still used today, whereas many newer (and carefully designed) ones will never be more than historical curios...more
Trevor
I’ll need to look it up when I get home, I guess, but Peter Carey in Theft – A Love Story – or rather, after he has finished the book – says what font the book needs to be printed in. Always a bit of a wanker, this goes some way to push Carey into extreme-nerd-wanker-land.

Now, not that I can talk. I’ve just finished and enjoyed a book on fonts – and a talking book on fonts (which, no matter how beautifully read. you would have to say, somewhat misses the point). But although I’m guilty, in the w...more
Laura Fudge
I’m only just on target with my challenge, and I think this is because this is another genre of books that I am not swift at reading! I would normally dip into books like this and going at it all in one go wasn’t difficult, but I did go a day every now and again where I didn’t pick this up… I think this is mainly because this topic is linked to my job and after spending all day designing and looking at typefaces, occasionally (as much as I love the subject!) I didn’t want to then carry on readin...more
Katy
Sep 09, 2013 Katy rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: those w/ interest in typography, fonts, history of print
Recommended to Katy by: netGalley
Read and reviewed in May 2012, just updated my review to my current ordering system.

Book Information: Genre: Nonfiction, typography
Recommended for: People interested in the typography that surrounds us.

My Thoughts: I find fonts fascinating; I love to use unusual fonts in personal correspondence (although I prefer Times New Roman for other uses), and I love to learn about fonts and typesetting, which leads me to read the little bit at the end of many books that tells about the font being used in...more
Michelle
Note: I won this book in a First Reads giveaway.

This made for an enjoyable and easy read. For anyone who’s studied typography or design, I can’t imagine the book would contain anything they don’t already know, but for a clueless layman like myself it’s full of interesting information on something most of us probably give little thought to. As someone coming to this book with precious little knowledge on the subject beyond a passing familiarity with some of the more widely-used fonts out there,...more
Alan
Feb 25, 2012 Alan rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Anyone who's ever yearned to kern...
Recommended to Alan by: The total package
Hard to believe, perhaps, but this book about fonts, typefaces, the shapes of the letters that make up the text we read every day, is lively and entertaining in a way that defies its only apparently trivial topic. From the reviled Comic Sans, to the historic impacts of powerhouse fonts like Times New Roman and Helvetica, to less common faces (like one of my personal favorites, Zapf Optima), Simon Garfield shares his enthusiasm for type in a series of clear, erudite, and wide-ranging essays. You...more
Brian
(3.5) First book I've read on this topic, learned a bit

I liked the historical discussion as well as the brief introduction to the terminology of typefaces and typography. I wish Garfield spent more time here so that he could use the more precise language to describe many of the fonts that he discusses.

Did a good job of using the fonts themselves in the text (though from a few bugs in the ARC it looked like maybe they were pasted textboxes on top of the text?--how daunting a task to be responsibl...more
Wyma
Just think - Garfield reminds us - before the personal computer most people knew next to nothing about typeface. But once we were given the opportunity to use it, we took off and often overdid it, used the same typeface for everything (comic sans), or used multiple typefaces on a page rather than bothering with expressive language. But that was part of the learning process and most of us settled in to a few reliable typefaces, which we call fonts. That's another thing I like about this author. H...more
umberto
Considerably readable, this book is informative and inspiring regarding each font's interesting inception, ‘typographic engineer’ and impact on the printing, advertising and communicating world dating back years ago till present days. It’s inspiring due to different font examples that help its readers decide which one should be more appropriate in what context and why.

I recalled vaguely, more than a decade ago, it was advised not to send a message in capital letters. For instance, we’re kindly i...more
Grady
Who Knew?

If the reader is looking for a book that simply places full alphabet pages of the various typefaces or fonts available today, this is not the book you're looking for. Yes, all of those fonts form the beginning of printing to the present are indeed present in Simon Garfield's JUST MY TYPE but instead of a study book of fonts, this is a commentary on the history of fonts that is tremendously entertaining as well as informative.

Some features one would not expect in a book of this nature i...more
Nicki Markus
This is a fun and interesting read that is perfect for all the font nerds out there and anyone who is interested in areas such as design, marketing and IT history.

I thought I had a pretty good idea about different fonts until this book opened my eyes. There were so many fonts I'd never heard of and others that I knew without realising they had once been designed for a specific purpose before becoming mainstream.

This book combined chapters on the general history of type and fonts with sections de...more
Jason
Truthfully, as a child that came up nearly entirely within the digital age, I never really gave much thought to typeface or fonts. As I would imagine that most others of my generation have done, I simply took these items for granted. Furthermore, I presumed the only utility of choosing between 'Word' fonts was to come in just below, or right at, the page limit of my high school and college assignments. 'Just My Type' has opened my eyes into the utterly fascinating world of type, typeface, and fo...more
Becky
This book is seemingly written for a niche audience - the sort of people who talk about fonts the way others might talk about wine, or who spot typeface anachronisms in movies. I am not in this crowd, though I did have a favorite font in high school (ITC Officina Sans, mentioned on page 182) and a month ago I pondered aloud the different fonts used on Interstate signs (this topic is also covered!). So when this book was mentioned in an article on Slate.com I had enough mild interest to look it u...more
Steve Williams
You'd think a book entirely focused on typefaces would only interest those with a keen interest in graphic design, but no, Simon Garfield's font-filled fact-fest appeals to the everyday reader, too. Anyone from the most experienced of typographical artists to your average computer user whose knowledge of fonts stretches no further than Arial and Comic Sans will enjoy it. Packed to the brim with interesting stuff about all areas of the field of typography. Each chapter revolves around a single to...more
Sue
Many of the books I “read” are in fact audiobooks, and I am a big fan of a good book read by a good reader. Well, here’s a book I cannot imagine choosing as an audio book. You really need to see the typefaces as you read about their histories, their uses, and their creators.

What does your favorite font say about you? There are many of us for whom that is not a silly question. This cleverly imagined and researched book is for us.

I bought my first Macintosh in 1984, and I was amazed to discover th...more
Viola
In this day and age, we easily have the choice of at least fifty fonts in a drop down menu all at a click of a button. Changing the text on your screen from Arial to Times New Roman to Comic Sans can be done in mere minutes. Whether we are writing a paper, a wedding invitation, or creating a presentation, the fonts we choose are important and impactful.

But typesetting wasn’t always at the fingertips of the layperson. It was in the realm of professionals.

Simon Garfield offers us a glimpse into th...more
Peter Derk
Well, this kind of breaks away from my normal rule against reading about super-small subcultures. You know, those books about professional Scrabble players or guys who build their own tiny cabins and release weird MP3's on their own web sites.

I spend a lot of time on the internet. Don't judge me.

But because this book isn't about weird PEOPLE (ostensibly) I figured it was worth a shot.

There are some interesting stories in here. A sexual deviant font designer. A gravestone with a Comic Sans inscr...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
Even if you're not normally one who cares much for fonts or typography, this effortless read will change how you view printed materials. Written in an easy, accessible, humorous style, Garfield explains the history of typography and font design (or type design).

The stories range from generally interesting to oh-my-god-I-need-brain-bleach horrifying (I'm telling you, I'll never view Gill Sans the same way again!). The chapters are about specific fonts and address specific topics (legibility versu...more
S
Original review at my blog, Writing by Numbers, here: http://ararebit.wordpress.com/2012/12...

Wikipedia reveals that Garfield has authored twelve nonfiction books, on topics from Victorian synthetic dyes, to wrestling, to war diaries. Is he generally passionate about British social/cultural history, or a true aficionado of each topic? Regardless, he made me believe in his typeface enthusiasm. This is a history of fonts, and it made me laugh aloud on the subway. It’s a rollicking, punchy romp.

Eac...more
 ~Geektastic~
We’ll keep this simple, as I’ve put off writing this review for close to two weeks now.

I really enjoyed Just My Type. It was enjoyable and informative, written with simplicity and clarity and boosted by a good deal of visual material. Anyone who has never considered fonts beyond the drop-down menu of their word processing program of choice will enjoy this as an introduction to a rarified and seemingly invisible world, and those who do know font-lore and methodology will probably enjoy it as a c...more
Ellie
Just My Type: A Book about Fonts by Simon Garfield is a beautifully crafted book, interesting and (naturally) easy on the eyes. Something definitely to own, read, and treasure. Lots of cool information but above all an artistic delight.
Craig a.k.a Meatstack
This book was far better than I expected, quite honestly. It managed to take a quite esoteric subject - fonts and typesetting - and humanize it to something a layman can understand. It is to the written word what Salt tried to be to seasonings.

Full of examples, and demonstrations, this book is not just words, but examples of what to look for in a typeface.
Alec
I believe it was mid-December when I logged into my gmail account while in the middle of my workday morning warm up and I noticed an interesting message from my dear, gentle friend Goodreads. "Congratulations!" it said, "You have read 13 books this year!" At first, while looking back at my year in books, I was hit with a tingle of pride. "Not a bad year,” I thought, as I looked at the list of books regarding subjects from TV to WWII espionage to material unqualified for Taco Bell. But then, the...more
Patrick
Just My Type opens with a chapter on that most hated of Microsoft Fonts, Comic Sans. It closes with a short rumination on Microsoft's new ubiquitous champion, Calibri. In between are chapters that take us through the development of fonts and typefaces from Gutenberg to Helvetica and beyond. Chapters are full of history and trivia, and cover technological innovations like Monotype, Linotype, and Letraset. Interspersed are short chapters highlighting an individual font and describing some of its h...more
Linda Robinson
Of all the books about letterpress, type, printing I've read this covers beautifully some of that material and the white space in between, too. From the Gutenberg Bible to songs about fonts today, there's a dazzling array of art and history in these pages. What font is the goodreads logo? (It's not in the book, but it's a good question anyway.) Why is the search bar type sans serif while the tab bar is serif? What now famous font helped win junior Senator Obama the presidency, and who created it...more
Greta
I love fonts and I love geeky books about rather obscure subjects so, naturally, I was destined to enjoy this book. Which I did. It was fun to read about the history of typeface, the nature of various fonts and to discover why we like or dislike them, what makes them legible, interesting, entertaining or manipulating. That we can be coerced to like or dislike something based on the font the message is delivered in is an additional subject that is barely discussed but important as well. This book...more
Minli
I wanted this book to be The Disappearing Spoon of typefaces, but alas it was not. However, it is a perfectly good layperson's introduction to type, the history of-, and the obsession with-. If you know nothing about typefaces, I recommend reading this and watching the Helvetica documentary.

I'm not a graphic designer, but I have a bit more knowledge than a layperson's, and I wished Garfield delved more about type-as-art-history--especially the bits about type trends and how styles evolve from th...more
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Simon Garfield is a British journalist and non-fiction author. He was educated at the independent University College School in Hampstead, London, and the London School of Economics, where he was the Executive Editor of The Beaver.

His published books include:

* Mini-The True and Secret History of the Making of a Motor Car
* Exposure: The Unusual Life and Violent Death of Bob Carlos Clarke
* The Error...more
More about Simon Garfield...
On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World Our Hidden Lives: The Remarkable Diaries of Post-War Britain We Are at War: The Diaries of Five Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times To the Letter: A Celebration of the Lost Art of Letter Writing

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“These days, digitization enables us to view the copies [of the Gutenberg Bible] online without the need for a trip to the Euston Road, although to do so would be to deny oneself one of the great pleasures in life. The first book ever printed in Europe - heavy, luxurious, pungent and creaky - does not read particularly well on an iPhone.” 5 likes
“One thing was for sure: no one wanted a repeat of Christopher Barker’s Bible of 1631, which omitted the negative from the seventh commandment so that it read, ‘Thou shalt commit adultery.” 2 likes
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