Excerpt from Just My Type by Simon Garfield, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Just My Type

A Book About Fonts

by Simon Garfield

Just My Type
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Sep 2011, 356 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2012, 384 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


We font fans go window shopping in an entirely different way, stumbling into street furniture as we go. Like maps, fonts do not always tell the truth; they may make us feel warmer towards a product by association, quickening our desires by stirring our memories. At 225 Smith Street we encounter Smith + Butler, a swinging tavern sign in a curious blend of German blackletter and Wild West wanted poster. The sign has all sorts of weirdness going on, including a crescent shape over the i, where normally a dot would go. The letters look as if they have been carved by an apprentice stonemason on his first (and probably last) day. The sign wants us to believe that the store - which sells home furnishings and classic utility clothing leaning towards biker chic - has been in this neighborhood for a while. Its owners speak of how the shop's mood 'reflects the early 1900s corner carriage house, the 1940s butcher shop and the 1960s local pharmacy'. But shopfitters are really setbuilders, and the type on the signs is not actually fifteenth-century Gutenburg or nineteenth-century Wyoming, but something stenciled in 2008, when the place opened.

In Manhattan, we can stroll into the reassuring chaos of the Strand Bookstore on Twelfth Street and Broadway, and find that their popular T-shirts and mugs ('18 Miles of Books') are in Helvetica. But you will find no better example of the diversity of type than by touring the tables and stacks. The text choices favour the digitized traditionals, the Bembos and Baskervilles and Times New Romans, but the jackets display the full roster, the fluid scripts for those intimate heartrending memoirs, the all-lower-case for the comic novels, the no-nonsense bold capitals for the business books, the wimpy scrawls for the children's stuff. Of course you can judge a book by its cover; moreover, we are obliged to.

A walk a couple of miles north to the Museum of Modern Art will be rewarded with a small exhibition devoted to posters and type on the London Underground, a design from the beginning of the twentieth century that was influential in setting a modernist tone throughout Europe. Edward Johnston's font, with its exceptional clarity and magical diamond dot on the i, has helped millions of travelers find their way around the capital. But trying to get close to it during its run at MoMA was a task, such was the interest and so eager were the crowds.

So I think we live in healthy typographical times. Steve Jobs and his digital rivals have brought about a world in which we are all masters of our type, and one in which we are more aware of fonts - their names, their design, their pedigrees - than ever before.

The modest purpose of this book, beyond entertainment and elucidation, is to extend this awareness and to celebrate our relationship with letters. Things we take for granted may disappear without our knowing; things we treasure should not pass without commemoration.

Excerpted from Just My Type by Simon Garfield. Copyright (c) 2011 by Simon Garfield. Reprinted by arrangement with Gotham Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Type Design and Printing

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Book That Matters Most
    The Book That Matters Most
    by Ann Hood
    BookBrowse First Impression reviewers appreciated the innovative structure of The Book That Matters ...
  • Book Jacket: The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    by Scott Stambach
    BookBrowse First Impression reviewers were uniformly impressed by this difficult yet heartwarming ...
  • Book Jacket: Boy Erased
    Boy Erased
    by Garrard Conley
    Growing up in rural Arkansas, Garrard Conley did not quite fit the mold of his strait-laced, ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
    by Bryn Greenwood

    A memorable coming-of-age tale about loyalty, defiance, and the power of love.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Book That Matters Most
    by Ann Hood

    An enthralling novel about love, loss, secrets and friendship.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
This Must Be the Place
by Maggie O'Farrell

An irresistible love story for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Lady Cop Makes Trouble

The Kopp Sisters Return!

One of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs returns in another gripping adventure based on fact.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Manners M (T) M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.