One of the first things I did when settling into my new office was to change the default on my computer from Calibri to Garamond. Why? Probably a combination of being slightly rebellious and wanting to look like I put a little thought into the aesthetics of my written documents (hey, that art degree comes with a reputation to uphold!). Yes, I’ll freely admit that I’m something of a typography nerd, so Simon Garfield’s book Just My Type caught my eye and I had it in my hands the next day.
Garfield presents a thorough and fascinating history of fonts, from Gutenberg’ Bible to the iPad. From processes and technical details to scandals and criticism, he covers it all in chapters with names like “Capital Offence” and “Can a font make me popular?” (the chapter on ampersands is a must-read. No, seriously). There’s a Hall of Shame and a whole chapter about the tragic history of a well-known, misunderstood font. One of the nicest touches, and what helped to keep the book interesting, was the printing of each font’s name in the font itself, as it is mentioned. This makes for the most informative and least intrusive illustration of a point I’ve ever seen (that is, the exact opposite of an endnote).
Given at this is a fairly recent book, the references Garfield makes to various online resources are still current, and I had fun with this gem. And for those who just want to use it to reference specific things, there’s a handy index in the back.
Entertaining and informative. Oh, and my choice of Garamond? “Respectable yet warm…a fine choice.”