A quick wintery ‘recently read’ roundup…
Just My Type by Simon Garfield.
My favourite of the bunch – an inspired Christmas present from @gwithiansunset. Apparently this was serialised on Radio 4, which is a bit odd for a book about the visual art of typography, and brings me to my only niggle with this lovely, fascinating, well-researched book: he often talks about fonts without showing you what they look like. I know I can look them up on the internet, but curled up in Cornwall with no internet access worth speaking of, it would have been nice to have them in print. But then I’m a font nerd. As a kid I used to fall asleep with the Letraset catalogue. It was my favourite book. So I’d like to have seen a full alphabet for every font mentioned – and perhaps a chapter on Herb Lubalin. But I’m being picky. A great book.
How to Leave Twitter by Grace Dent.
This was a Kindle 99p Christmas offer – in fact, as I type, this is still 99p on the Kindle. And I’m afraid I wouldn’t pay much more than that for it. It’s surprisingly sour, very short, but the chapter on Twitter stereotypes is very funny and horribly accurate. I can see myself in at least one of them. Her section on people who use tools to see who has unfollowed them is spot-on and exactly what I have always thought: isn’t there enough misery in the world already without going out of your way to find out who’s gone off you? And it made me think of my own reasons for unfollowing people:
- Because you tweet too much.
- Because you never tweet.
- Because you said one thing, one thing out of a million tweets, that hurt me and I unfollowed you in a strop. I’ll be back.
- Because, even though you follow me, you never reply to me when you solicit help or advice from Twitter at large, and frankly I now feel a bit like I’m stalking you, so I’ll just slink away.
- Because you’re too happy and I’m in pit of despair just now. I know this is bad of me. I’ll be back.
- Because you are having a massive argument with someone else I follow and it’s getting me down.
- Because you are having way to much fun with someone else I follow and it’s getting me down.
- Because someone thinks you’re flirting with me. You’re not, I know you’re not. If I know anything by now, I know when I am, and when I am not, being flirted with, but sometimes it’s simpler just to unfollow.
- Because sometimes Twitter randomly unfollows people – I think this is deliberate and wonderfully good coding. It means you can blame any of the above on Twitter.
When God Was A Rabbit by Sarah Winman.
I wanted to like this book, I really did. It has a lovely cover, I found a signed copy in the bookshop in St Ives that was calling out ‘buy me’ as several people recommended it. And I did love the first half. The second half, not so much. It’s well-written, the childhood scenes especially, but too many things annoyed me – the historical events which, although they are dealt with sensitively, still felt crow-barred in to me, the utter absence of romantic love for the main protagonist, a couple of possibly accidental anachronisms: I don’t think you got gherkins in Wimpy burgers in the 1970s – I’m pretty sure they came in with McDonalds. And I’m pretty sure dads in the 1970s didn’t say ‘yay!’. In fact I’m not even sure anyone said ‘yay!’ in the 70s. And then the deliberate anachronism: the 50p piece with the date in the future that Jenny produces from her arm. I waited 324 pages for an explanation. It could have been mad, as crazy as a talking rabbit, I just wanted to know what it meant. And it was never referred to again. Maybe I’m just too thick to work it out.