Friday, August 26, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway: Just My Type

'Just My Type: A Book About Fonts'
Author: Simon Garfield


Format: ARC
Published: Gotham; Sept. 2011
Pages: 356
Genre: Nonfiction
Grade: A
Source: TLC Books


Synopsis: 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 cool anonymity of Arial, or the irritating levity of Comic Sans (and the movement to ban it)?
Typefaces are now 560 years old, but we barely knew their names until about twenty years ago when the pull-down font menus on our first computers made us all the gods of type. Beginning in the early days of Gutenberg and ending with the most adventurous digital fonts, Simon Garfield explores the rich history and subtle powers of type. He goes on to investigate a range of modern mysteries, including how Helvetica took over the world, what inspires the seeming ubiquitous use of Trajan on bad movie posters, and exactly why the all-type cover of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus was so effective. It also examines why the "T" in the Beatles logo is longer than the other letters and how Gotham helped Barack Obama into the White House. A must-have book for the design conscious, Just My Type's cheeky irreverence will also charm everyone who loved Eats, Shoots & Leaves and Schott's Original Miscellany.

My Take: Now I realize this book may not be for everyone but it most certainly was for me. Here's the thing, you may be scratching your head thinking a book about fonts. Boring! But you would be so wrong. You know why? People get heated up about them. They familiarize themselves with them and everyone has a favorite. I work in marketing and the past two companies I have worked for now we have gone through a rebranding effort and each time we have changed fonts. Holy smokes people hold onto your hats! Your average Joe's and Jane's will come out of the word work to tell you how awful and ugly the people you paid to study your brand and recommend these changes were so wrong. And then a year later once they are used to it, how good it all the looks. The thing is, we look at type and fonts all day and it is fascinating to read about what's behind them.

What's particularly great about Garfield's book is it's cheeky. Its not just a scientific study of fonts but it goes into the more humanistic side of things and our feelings behind fonts. Perhaps why a person created the font they did. He picks a particular font and goes in depth on it. I learned all about why transit fonts were designed for readability, why designers love Helvetica, and how people who really know their type can get frustrated watching movies because typefaces are often used out of context. You learn a lot, but just when things start to get to specific or scientific, that's the end of a topic. It's wrapped up and we move onto the next font. You learn a lot in a brief way. It's totally digestible.

Reading this book I found myself looking at the world around me in a whole new life. Look at that, they choose a serif font I'd say to myself. Almost all advertising around me on my way to and from work and in my transit system is in sans serif fonts. Something I had never looked at before. Also, since everyone can just pull a drop down menu in their computer they can pick and play around with any type they choose. Everyone's an artist now. Why not learn why a font is designed the way it is? In reading Garfield's fascinating book, I've learned it's usually designed that way for a very specific reason!

Cover Lust: I love a graphic, artistic design and this one is really eye-catching.

Giveaway Details!
The publisher has kindly offered up one new copy to a lucky winner! The deadline for this giveaway is Sep. 9th; entries open to those in the US and Canada.

To Enter (Mandatory)!
Comment below with a way for me to contact you.

For Extra entries (Optional), indicate that you are:
+1 Follow this blog on Google Connect (see right sidebar)
+1 Follow me on twitter and tweet about this giveaway (include @amusedbybooks in your tweet)
+1 Blog/Post about this giveaway on your sidebar

3 extra entries available. Giveaway open until 11:59pm PST Sep. 9th. I will draw the winners using random.org and announce them here on my blog. Good luck!



For other opinions about this book, here's the full TLC Tour Schedule.

15 comments:

  1. This sounds fascinating! I love finding out the history behind things like this.

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  2. really interesting!!I am an email subscriber.

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  3. I'm studying graphic design next month so this will be useful! :)

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  4. Sounds like a great book
    Ann
    cozyintexas@yahoo.com

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  5. I am a new follower. Looking forward to reading more of your reviews.

    I would love if you came and followed me back at Free eBooks Daily
    http://www.freeebooksdaily.com

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  6. Ooh, please count me in! I'm fascinated by fonts and love graphic design. Thanks for the chance!

    writing.meg [at] gmail.com

    +1 I follow through Google Connect.

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  7. I'm fascinated by how fonts are created so I know I'd love this one!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

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  8. After reading that this is your favorite book in August, I have to enter!

    I'm also a GFC follower: JP

    jesse.nicole.paul (at) gmail (dot) com

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  9. Sounds great...

    gfc follower

    vidishamun at gmail dot com

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  10. I am interested in this intriguing book. Many thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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  11. I would enjoy this unique book since it explores a topic which sounds different. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  12. oops...forgot my email addy!

    I used to do web design, and I remember looking at EVERYthing as a possible source of inspiration. I also remember having heated discussions on which fonts to use where and why. I think this one would be very interesting. Thanks for the chance to win!

    knittingandsundries(at)gmail(dot)com

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  13. Old GFC follower!

    knittingandsundries(at)gmail(dot)com

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Thanks for stopping by Amused By Books and taking the time to comment!

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