Monday, August 29, 2011

Just My Type by Simon Garfield

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

Genre: Non-Fiction (Fonts / Typography / History / Graphic Design)
Publisher/Publication Date: Gotham (9/1/2011)
Source: TLC Book Tours

Rating: Loved.
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.

*** *** ***


I'm thrilled to offer one copy of Just My Type to one lucky reader! 

To enter, fill out this simple form. Open to US/CA readers, closes 9/16.


  1. Great review - you've got me really excited to read this! I imagine it will mostly appeal to people who love words and books, but I'm definitely in that category!

  2. I don't think that this one is for me, but I am really thrilled that you are excited and so enthusiastic about it! It seems like it was a great read for you, and your review reflects that!

  3. A book about font sounds so uninteresting to me, but your review reallly makes me want to pick it up, LOL! My husband has a graphic design degree so he might be interested in it... I never thought of font being important in that way (but I'm sure if I mentioned it to him he'd be all "DUH", hehe). I may put this one on the list.

  4. @Rhapsody: There's a number of references to designers waxing on about how a font needs to be 'invisible' so someone get get into the text without being aware they're reading -- it really resonated with me since a bad font really can jar me.

    @Heather: I had no idea I'd love it as much as I would! It was so interesting (to me)! ;)

    @Jenny: Font designers have been a bit huffy that this wasn't about the technical aspects of font/type design which is why this book was so successful for me -- it's very breezy and approachable and has me looking at signs and posters in a whole new way. V fascinating -- highly recommended because it might spark an interest!

  5. ..perhaps not. But at least I got to read a review of it :) That means I have almost read it anyway, lol

  6. definitely sounds like a fun one especially in regards to the backstories you mentioned IKEA, Obama...

    would love to read this one and pick up the trivia.
    vvb32 at

  7. This sounds like a fun read. Thank you for offering.

  8. This is a really different kind of book. Your review makes me want to try it! Please enter me in the draw.

    darlenesbooknook at gmail dot com

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  9. You make this sound so interesting, but I'm not that big into the history of fonts or graphic design. On the other hand, I like learning new things. I say enter me into the drawing.

    savvyverseandwit at gmail

  10. I think I'd enjoy all the British examples as well - what fun!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.