Thinking with Type ” Ellen Lupton
I ordered this book quite a while ago. In fact, I can’t remember when I got it. It has sat on my bookshelf ”nearly forgotten. Until today.
As I prepared to head off to the laundromat, I realized I needed some reading material to pass the time. There it was, sitting on my bookshelf, sad and ignored. I picked it up and slipped it in my purse. I have bad memories of typography books I read in college school. I love typography, but could not take the dry, dense text I was forced to read for class. This is not one of those books. I read the first paragraph and couldn’t put it down. I actually read the entire book while at the laundromat. In fact, I left my fully dried cloths in the dryer an extra 15 minutes just so I could finish this book.
Lupton offers you all the little tidbits and facts:
“Mrs Eaves: working woman
Zuzana Licko, fearless pioneer of the digital dawn, produced historical revivals during the 1990s alongside her experimental display faces. Her 1996 typeface Mrs Eaves, inspired by the eighteenth-century types of John Baskerville (and named after his mistress and housekeeper Sarah Eaves), became one of the most popular typefaces of its time.”
Along with some wit:
“Every typeface wants to know, “Do I look fat in this paragraph?” It’s all a matter of context. A font could look perfectly sleek on screen, yet appear bulky and out of shape in print. Some typefaces are drawn with heavier lines than others, or they have taller x-heights. Helvetica isn’t fat. She has big bones.”
Mixed in with sexual innuendos:
“Letters do love one another. However, due to their anatomical differences, some letters have a hard time achieving intimacy. Consider the letter V, for example, whose seductive valley makes her limbs stretch out above her base. In contrast, L solidly holds his ground yet harbors a certain emptiness above the waist. Automated kerning tables solve these problems in most situations, but some letters may require additional guidance at larger sizes. Capital letters, being square and conservative, prefer to keep a little distance from their neighbors.”
And some good advice:
“Think more, design less”
This is a must read for designers. Lupton gives you just enough history, tips, and facts to leave you craving more. You will not become a master of typography after reading this book, but it will leave you thirsty for more. I’m already submitting an amazon order for many of the books Lupton cites.