Book Review: ‘Just My Type’ By Simon Garfield

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I was recently given Just My Type for my birthday (thank you Hannah) and I shot through it, which is unusual for me because I normally lose interest in non fiction books after a few chapters. This one however had me hooked, I thought it was really well written and funny too, full of anecdotes and trivia. Obviously it would be of particular interest to the design-savvy but I would recommend it to anyone really, type should be interesting and relevant to everyone, because type allows us to communicate. We come across thousands of typefaces everyday and we infer meaning from them subconsciously. Some are bold and confident, others more personal and intimate. Some look sleek, clean and professional, others not so much, *cough* looking at you Comic Sans. Either way, type is a hugely significant part of design, I mean, imagine a world where everything is set in the same typeface… nope, I can’t either.

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Earlier in the year we did a typeface design project for which I did some research and yet I was still surprised by how little I knew about the world of type design, the history of movable type and the advances in printing over the last 200 years. Just My Type included lots of history but also plenty of information and stories about contemporary designers and the future of type design. I really liked learning about the origins of characters and the intricacies of type anatomy. It sounds very niche but Simon Garfield writes in a way that makes it very readable and light.
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Structurally, the book is a dream. The chapters are varied and concise and the general history of type design is told in semi-chronological order. Between chapters there are ‘fontbreaks’ with more specific information regarding one of the more prolific and well known fonts or one with a particularly interesting backstory.
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As a design student, I have always been interested in typography but since finishing this book, I have become hypersensitive to it, maybe even a little obsessed. I hope that I am now better equipped, type-wise, to start my Graphic Design degree. Thank you Simon Garfield, type god.

R

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