The Anatomy (Geometry) of Type

I have a lot of books, living in various stacks and piles all around my (tiny) Brooklyn apartment. The Anatomy of Type (Geometry of Type for the UK version) isn’t the usual sort of book I’d write about here, but it’s made it’s way to the top of the stack next to my desk on several occasions now so I knew it was time to give it a shout-out. 

Originally, I bought it for my Kindle, and while I could tell I’d love the book, I wasn’t super pleased with the Kindle (for iPad) version. The book is mostly images that you want to study in close detail, and the Kindle experience was awkward, with lots of opening light boxes and zooming in and out to see critical detail. I bought the hardcover edition to take another pass through. I was able to snag a used copy of the UK edition because I liked the cover much better. It came right on the day before Christmas, so I stashed it under the tree to play with Christmas Day and had a happy afternoon paging through. 

This is very much a book about letters—their shapes, and what about their shapes make them more or less appropriate for a particular kind of usage. It’s a good answer to someone who might ask, now that I am finished with Bringhurst and Lupton, where do I go next? 

"What gives a typeface its personality? Why does one font appear bigger or clearer or darker or warmer than another? The answers to these questions can often be found by simply looking more closely at the letters themselves."

In general, following all of Stephen Cole’s doings will lead you to serious type nerdery. You can lose yourself in fonts in use or read type reviews at Typographica. That said, I feel the level of detail in Anatomy of Type really lends itself to the immersive (and offline) book experience.  Then you can hop back online to try a few type experiments of your own. I liked taking a piece of sample text and seeing if I agreed with Stephen on how the various type families might make it feel.

Overall, I find that any book where I buy the electronic version only to go back and decide I need the hardcopy is worth telling others about. Grab The Anatomy of Type, curl up on the couch, and geek out.