Author: Simon Garfield
Genre: Non-Fiction (Fonts / Typography / History / Graphic Design)
Publisher/Publication Date: Gotham (9/1/2011)
Source: TLC Book Tours
Did I finish?: Yes -- and I couldn't stop babbling about it.
One-sentence summary: A history of fonts, font design, and typography, written in a humorous and accessible style.
Reading Challenges: British Books
Do I like the cover?: Yes -- it captures the playfulness of Garfield's writing style and displays some beautiful font examples.
First line: On 12 June, 2005, a fifty-year-old man stood up in front of a crowd of students at Stanford University and spoke of his campus days at a 'lesser institution' -- Reed College in Portland, Oregon.
Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow for sure -- even if you're not normally inclined toward graphic design, you'll not look at a sign or book cover the same way again!
Why did I get this book?: I am a font geek and I couldn't wait to read this!
Review: Even if you're not normally one who cares much for fonts or typography, this effortless read will change how you view printed materials. Written in an easy, accessible, humorous style, Garfield explains the history of typography and font design (or type design).
The stories range from generally interesting to oh-my-god-I-need-brain-bleach horrifying (I'm telling you, I'll never view Gill Sans the same way again!). The chapters are about specific fonts and address specific topics (legibility versus readability, for example) but regardless of the focus, I was engrossed by Garfield's storytelling style. And the stories are compelling and timely: the IKEA font switch drama, Obama's choice of campaign font, the history of the notorious Comic Sans, pirating and copying of fonts, and the worst fonts in the world (#1 surprised me but upon studying it, I agree!).
Written original for a British audience, this book has a great deal of European examples, which I found a bit of an armchair escape in addition to being generally fascinating. I can't rave about this book enough -- not just for font freaks, this is a great piece of non-fiction loaded with trivia, history, and humor.
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