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Elizabeth Burt "lizzy" (London, UK)

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Thinking with Type, Second Revised and Expanded Edition: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, and Students (Design Briefs)
Thinking with Type, Second Revised and Expanded Edition: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, and Students (Design Briefs)
by Ellen Lupton
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.89

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delivers all that it promises, 5 Mar 2011
In the introduction, Ellen Lupton states "I sought a book that is serene and intelligible, a volume where design and text gently collaborate to enhance understanding. I sought a work that is small and compact, economical yet well-constructed - a handbook designed for the hands. I sought a book that reflects the diversity of typographic life, past and present, exposing my students to history, theory and ideas. Finally, I sought a book that would be relevant across the media of visual design, from the printed page to the glowing screen."

And that's exactly what she created. This book is an excellent entrance point into typography, and the author's enthusiasm for the subject comes across very warmly. It's delicately balanced to offer a bit of history, a bit of technical terminology, a few how-to's and what-not-to-ever-do's. I've picked up and put back down two other uninspiring typography books - 'Typography' by Ambrose/Harris, 'Logo, Font and Lettering Bible' by Leslie Cabarga - but this book captured my attention and ignited my imagination. And that's really the point of reading design books isn't it? Not to just admire what you see, but to feel inspired to create your own work.

Other typography books may be better at drumming in the technicalities, or teaching you how to practically implement things in InDesign or HTML/CSS. But this book gently informs, entertains and encourages, turning a mild interest into a fascination. It's really an easy and most definitely worthwhile read, presenting typography not as a strict discipline to be mastered, but an expressive art form to be admired, enjoyed and played with.

Basics Design: Print and Finish
Basics Design: Print and Finish
by Gavin Ambrose
Edition: Paperback
Price: 19.21

3.0 out of 5 stars Style over Substance, 30 Jan 2011
This book didn't take long to finish and was quite a frustrating read. It felt unbalanced, going the long way round with wordy explanations stating the obvious, whilst skimping on in depth detail about the print and finish processes featured. I say it was 'style over substance' because it seemed they'd decided each process would occupy a certain space so the layout was regular and orderly, and bulked out certain sections whilst cutting down others. I honestly felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall of obviousness at times, especially with the captions to the examples. For example:

"The brochure features a printed and foil-blocked bellyband that holds its pages closed in addition to providing a distinctive visual element. The bellyband is marked 'LifeStyle', a slogan that incorporates the client's initials and alludes to the suggestion that the 'right' living space can complement your lifestyle." - p.145

Erm...OK then.

In fairness, it is a broad overview of the types of print and finish processes that are out there, skimming over a variety of topics, whilst remaining light on detail. Some of the examples they've chosen are not clear enough though; for example, I'm still not entirely sure what 'tipping in' is, even though I've read the section repeatedly and closely looked at the examples.

The conclusion does state that this was meant as a 'starting point' for your exploration; it also suggests that the "adventurous use of these techniques requires experimentation, considered thought and inevitably the odd mistake..." I find this irksome, because this book is aimed at students and those starting out with graphic design, and who amongst this target audience has the money to a. set up these processes in the first place, or b. afford to make mistakes?!

For the student or graduate hoping to spruce up their portfolio or CV, it's not ideal. This book doesn't equip you with practical knowledge to actually implement many of these things. For that purpose, I'd recommend The Production Manual: A Graphic Design Handbook by the same authors.

Light: Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
Light: Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
by Fil Hunter
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly worth five stars!, 11 July 2010
I'm an amateur photographer familiar with the workings of the camera by now, and was looking to extend my knowledge into the realm of lighting subjects with artificial light.

If you're after a book that's totally informative and accessible - not snobbish or exclusive about 'the rules' of 'good photography' - then this book will be a sound investment. Not only will it educate you on the ins and outs of studio lighting set-ups, this book takes a well-rounded approach to photographic lighting. It equips you with principles that are applicable in ALL situations, whatever the subject (ie. not just studio work).

This book sits net to Ansel Adams' trilogy as the most successful educational photography books I've read. In the true spirit of the best educational books, it offers a well-rounded approach, not just facts and figures to be memorized. Honestly worth the five star rating.

The Fall of Yugoslavia
The Fall of Yugoslavia
by Misha Glenny
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.69

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From vague familiarity to a good understanding., 14 Jun 2010
This review is from: The Fall of Yugoslavia (Paperback)
As somebody who grew up in Britain through the years of this conflict, but was too young at the time to fully grasp the politics and implications of the war, this book was easily accessible and readable.

A lot of the placenames and political parties involved were familiar to me (in no depth at all, just names that I recognised from the news), and this book placed them all so that I have a fairly comprehensive and clear understanding of the conflict.

Well-paced, with a mixture of historical and political insight, punctuated by personal accounts of Glenny's travels in the warzone that really served to illuminate the lengthier sections.

If - like me - you want to put vaguely familiar names into place, and have a sense of the conflict on a micro and macro scale, I would recommend this book highly.

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