Top critical review
All surface and no depth
on 24 May 2015
This is a non-fiction book about fonts. Its strong point is that it includes plenty of illustrations, and some of the text is printed in the font being described: so, for example, the first paragraph of a discussion of the Albertus typeface is set in Albertus. The print edition of the book is a handsome physical object. I didn't read the ebook, so I'm not sure how well it comes across in electronic format.
For me, the content didn't quite live up to the presentation. The chapters cover the material in a random order (not chronological or any other sensible scheme), and many chapters are just a grab-bag of very loosely connected sections and anecdotes. The whole book is like a giant listicle with a hundred bullet points; the lack of structure makes it feel curiously unsatisfying.
Some of the stories are individually interesting. However, this material is counterbalanced by numerous rather dull sections in which Font X was created by Person Y for Purpose Z, and inevitably these become repetitive.
Throughout, the book pitches itself at the level of a breezy magazine article, with the consequent lack of depth and rigour. A few factoids about typography are sprinkled into the narrative, but there's no real introduction to the key technical facets. The book is fun to read, yet doesn't make you feel as if you've learned very much.