Monday, September 12, 2011
Just My Type: a book about fonts by Simon Garfield
Published September 2011 by Penguin Group
Source: the publisher and TLC Book Tours
The front of Just My Type says that it is an international bestseller. Really? Don't get me wrong, I liked this book a lot. But I had no idea there were that many people that were interested in fonts. But then, until I read Just My Type, I had no idea that people actually had jobs creating fonts. Don't laugh. I know someone has to create them. It just never occurred to me that someone could actually make a living creating new fonts, let alone become well known (well, relatively speaking).
In Just My Type, Simon Garfield introduces readers to the creators of many of the most well known font creators, including both their personal and professional backgrounds. My favorite part of meeting these people was learning about their personal lives. Eric Gill, creator of Gill Sans? Kind of a creepy guy. John Baskerville, creator of the, oddly enough, Baskerville font? Before she married John, she was married to a man name Eaves who deserted her with five children. She was Baskerville's live-in housekeeper before she became so much more. But until Mr. Eaves died, she wasn't able to marry Baskerville. It was kind of a scandal at the time.
Garfield also gives the history of most fonts. The earliest fonts are over 500 years old but most of the fonts we use on a regular basis are no more than 100 years old, with many of them being under 50 years old. Of course, the advent of the personal computer and the development of word processors has really sparked a surge in the development of fonts.
How aware are you of fonts? I didn't really think I was, except when I'm choosing one for my own works. But after reading Just My Type I think you are more likely to be aware of the font if the wrong one has been used. You wouldn't want your physician to be using Comic Sans, for example, on his or her materials. It doesn't really say "I'm serious and you can trust me." You are likely to notice a change in font whenever a product makes a design change. The next time you see that your favorite product has changed the packaging, see if you notice the change in font.
You probably need to be something of a word or print junkie to really love Just My Type, but using a bit of humor, plenty of personal stories, and examples readers can really relate to, Garfield has crafted a book that will appeal to a wide audience.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour. For more opinions, visit the other sites on the tour.
Simon Garfield is the author of twelve acclaimed books of nonfiction. He lives in London and St. Ives, Cornwall, and currently has a soft spot for Requiem Fine Roman and HT Gelateria. For more information about Simon and his work, visit his website at www.simongarfield.com. Connect with Simon on Twitter.