Just My Type: A Book About Fonts is a light-hearted collection of stories aimed at non-designers.
“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.”
“Typefaces are now 560 years old. So when a Brit called Matthew Carter constructed the now-ubiquitous Verdana on his computer in the 1990s, what could he possibly be doing to an A and a B that had never been done before? And how did a friend of his make the typeface Gotham, which eased Barack Obama into the Presidency? And what exactly makes a font presidential or American, or British, French German, Swiss or Jewish?”
Those are just a few of the questions considered in the book.
Author Simon Garfield isn’t a graphic designer or typographer so don’t expect an advanced study of typography. But fair play to the man for choosing a topic close to every designer’s heart, and (I’m halfway through the book) producing what I’m finding to be an enjoyable read.
Update: 26 September 2011
Alex pointed me in the direction of Paul Shaw‘s critical review: Not My Type. Admittedly, Paul knows infinitely more about type than I do, so I read his critique (and the comments that followed) with interest.
Just My Type is available to purchase from Profile Books or:
More recommended reads: A few good books.