The last book I read was about fonts. Boring sounding, perhaps, but “Just My Type” by Simon Garfield was anything but dull! A fascinating and entertaining guide to the world of typography, the author is also clearly passionate about the subject and you cannot help but be taken in by his enthusiasm.
Beginning with the earliest printed fonts from the days of the Gutenberg press, right up to the dreadfully designed official London Olympics 2012 font, we are given a crash course in the anatomy of a letter, font creators, and the perils of being a typography expert (Trying to enjoy a film set in world war 2? Most people would manage this, but if you recognise a type being used as one created in the 60s, it can apparently really spoil your enjoyment!).
Special chapters are dedicated to notable fonts such as Helvetica, Gill Sans and the much hated Comic Sans - which gets a very large chapter detailing it's interesting creation. It's really enjoyable to read how this typeset was originally created to make computers seem friendly and non-threatening ended up being what is arguable the most widely detested font in the world (I've tried to convince Dabarai she shouldn't be using it on this blog, but my advice has fallen on ignorant ears. I'll try harder to get her to read the chapter in question). Even more fascinating and vastly more disturbing is the life of Eric Gill, creator of the internationally popular font Gill Sans amongst others. Apparently Gill was a colossal pervert, and kept needlessly detailed diaries of his sexual dalliances with his wife, daughter, sisters and.... ugh... his dog. Try not to think of that when you read anything in his fonts, which thanks to his ubiquity is bound to be used in many of the books, magazines and newspapers you've read recently.
Even if you don't know your points from your serifs or your Helveticas from your Arials, I highly recommend this book. It's funny, interesting, entertaining, and - something important to me in particular - looks gorgeous. Chapters on fonts are written in their respective typeset, there are illustrations galore, and the cover is pretty great too. So, yeah, read it, and never want to opt for boring old Arial ever again.