Simon Garfield’s Fabulous ‘Just My Type’


December 16th, 2011

Type faces control our lives, subtly or not so slyly attracting us to everything from underarm deodorants to fast food joints to record album covers, while type faces on signage get us to our destinations without getting lost. And in this age of personal computers and their innumerable fonts, type faces dominate our lives as never before, enabling us to be our own graphic artists. How else to explicate those kitschy party invitations we all get?

I should make it lucid from the jump that I am a font wonk, one of those maddening people who obsesses over type faces, as well as have font fiend friends who named their dog Bodoni. I can copy this burden/addiction to my early years in the newspaper business when I would stand in the composing room on one side of a turtle while a compositor would collect a newspaper page from mirror-image hot metal linotype type that would become a readable work of art as the page came off the presses.

I love some fonts — Garamond, Tempus Sans ITC, Gill Sans and Papyrus, used by James Cameronz throughout Avatar — while sneering at others — Comic Sans and the crapoid WordPress for The reasonable Voice headlines and body type to name but two.

It brings me to Simon Garfield’sz just published Just My Type: A Book regarding Fonts, a quick, quirky, elucidating, pun drenched and often very funny read that several reviewers have already noted will do for fonts what Lynne Truss’sz runaway 2004 bestseller Eats, Shoots & Leaves did for punctuation.

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