A quick look at a quick look: A review of Just My Type by Simon Garfield
It’s often said that the ‘font’ menu on today’s word processors has made many more people curious — and opinionated — about fonts than has ever been the case before. If you are a little curious about the field of type design, and the people behind it, this book is a light, extremely readable introduction.
It skips around, rather than following a (for example) chronological development. The focus is on today rather than the past. While it covers Baskerville, its scope is really the early twentieth century onward (including Eric Gill’s… uh… unusual proclivities). Luminaries like Jenson, Caslon, Garamond and Aldus, get little more than passing mention.
The book contains chapters that discuss a topic (use of caps, the ampersand, road sign fonts, Nazi fonts, etc) and vignettes that each look at a particular font (Gill Sans, Albertus, Frutiger and so forth). So we get potted histories, fascinating anecdotes, a look at the use of Gotham by the Obama campaign, and so on.
The book is an excellent gateway into a deeper study of fonts (though probably not so much typography in the broader sense), and also a fascinating little stopover for those with no intention of looking any further but who have played with the entries in the font menu in their word processor.