The Galley Way: Just My Type

Just My Type by, Simon Garfield

I won this book through the Goodreads First Reads program and am very thankful to have received it.

In this book Simon Garfield gives the reader a crash course in the history of typography from Gutenberg and blackletter to Obama on the campaign trail with his timely choice of Gotham font… and beyond.

I was already curious abut fonts before picking up Just My Type– my greater attention to font was especially sparked when someone on a blog about pointed out the well chosen Helvetica poster adorning an office in an episode of Mad Men (which Mr. Garfield can confirm was astute of the set designers) and I was drawn to how beautiful fonts can be when looked at for their own sake. And, I always a little interested in type: I like to read what type a novel is set in when the publisher’s leave a note at the end of the book, and appreciated the aesthetic beauty of fonts like Bauhaus, Art Deco, and Art Nouveau.

Of course I certainly knew I was nothing of an expert, but reading Just My Type it is now clear that I am at the shallow end of the type enthusiasts. One of the most fascinating aspects of the book was simply the window into this whole culture of “typophilia” where type geeks can tell a font simply by a single “g” on the cover of a book and bemoan when a film set in 1940 uses a font not created until the 1970’s.

My love of type has definitely been confirmed by this book, but I’ll never be in that league where I could name the type of font shown monetarily in a film, or even on a shop window. Fortunately, Just My Type is a great introductory book for us novices. The best thing about the book is how Garfield manages to pack a lot of history and information about type while still keeping the book a light and fun read (Basically lots of nice cocktail-party-worthy anecdotes).

The only weird complaint I have is that sometimes the chapters would end abruptly (including the the end of the book itself). I don’t know if this was due to just the formatting of the galley, and the book will flow a little better in it’s finished form, or it’s a strange backhanded to compliment to the book- that it keeps you wanting more.

Overall Highly recommend this book!

Goodreads rating: ****

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