Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Books I'm Reading: Just My Type

We look at letters every day, often all day long. We see them on signs; on computer screens large and small, fixed and mobile; in books, magazines, and newspapers. But more often than not, we ignore their form, choosing instead to concentrate on the meanings they convey--and a good typeface (a good reading typeface, that is, as opposed to a display or advertising typeface) is often praised when it's seen as being "transparent," which is to say that it draws no attention to itself. Just My Type (Gotham Books, 2012) author Simon Garfield is far more sensitive to the shapes of letters.

Garfield takes the reader on a grand tour of typography. The book is an entertaining, often witty look at typefaces--where they come from and what they do for us. You may never look at street signs, billboards, print advertising, or book pages the same way again. Particularly fascinating is the way Garfield puts fonts into historical context. Next time you're watching a movie, you may find yourself looking for examples of lettering set in typefaces that didn't exist at the time of the film's setting--a new dimension in movie error trivia to explore.

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