Just My Type: A Book About Fonts
Hardcover | Paperback
Written by Simon Garfield
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Let no one ever tell you that language is boring. Being a bit of a Grammar Nazi, I have enjoyed a plethora of books dedicated to languages and the perversions through which they have been made to suffer. I may sling a few slang words occasionally, but I am rearing my children (isn’t that a funny phrase?) to speak English properly, at least in our home. And while no two languages are the same, they all share the common bond of generally having the ability to convey their meaning accordingly. Now, take any word and change the font…without altering the word itself, you can add expression and depth to it instantly. When you can take a common word and render it in script, you get not just a beautiful word, but in some cases you also get a piece of art.
It amazes me that the slightest variation to the stylizing of letters can convey a mood, a concept, and in some cases, it can alter the meaning of the word completely. As with most people, I never knew the names of these typesets until I started using a home computer. And with each passing year, they seem to grow in variety. I have learned which ones to use in different situations…documents… what have you. The age of technology has, in this case, opened the mind of the public to something that has been around for over half a millennium, instilling a piece of knowledge that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.
With samples from over two hundred fonts, ranging from Albertus to Zeppelin II, we get a visual representation of how each one of them is unique its own way. From advertising to everyday communication, we are shown how it affects our subconscious. Everyone can recognize the particulars of the script used by Coca-Cola or the lettering from Rolling Stone magazine…they are iconic. But this is exactly how it permeates our lives, subtly changing the way we perceive so much of our environment.
I won’t say this is a fun book for everyone, but for anyone in the visual arts it could be a game changer. The depth of history behind certain fonts and the way others have changed over time really blends the past with the present. I enjoyed this book immensely because of the wonderfully rich text that was augmented with photographs and art to make the stories livelier than you would expect from a book about typography. If you have an interest in language or arts, give this a try. I’m going to keep it nearby on a bookshelf in my office. You may not know it, but that is a huge honor since most books get boxed and stored after reading.
Two thumbs up for this book about words and how we see them, especially in this emoticon-laden world.