A post from Shady Characters

The 2017 Shady Characters gift guide

The year is coming to an end and that can mean only one thing: it’s time for me to promote my books!

I’m kidding. Sort of, at least. Fatherhood has occupied most of the time that, in previous years, I would have spent hunting down punctuation-related gifts for you, the discerning reader. That said, I’ve been interested in the comings and goings surrounding emoji (“picture writing”, or symbols like “😊” and “🎁”) for some time now, and in doing so I came across Josh Williams’ pleasingly minimal “Unicalendar” for the year 2018.

Josh Williams' Unicalendar 2018
Josh Williams’ “Unicalendar 2018”, featuring emoji stickers ready to label important dates. (Image courtesy of Josh Williams.)

At 12″ by 24″, Williams’ letterpress calendar carries the entirety of 2018 on a single sheet and comes with set of adhesive foil emoji stickers with which to mark significant dates. I’d say that it would make a great gift for a typographically-minded friend or family member, but given that Williams is printing a limited edition of only 200 copies, maybe you’d prefer to get your own order in first!

The Book. Image courtesy of Sam Otis.
Image courtesy of Sam Otis.

Now, then, back to me. Book sales are one of the main ways that this site is supported, and so, if you haven’t already ordered a copy of The Book: A Cover-to-Cover Ex­plor­a­tion of the Most Power­ful Ob­ject of Our Time, might I humbly suggest that now would be a great time to do so? It’s a 400-odd page journey through the history of books and writing, starting with cuneiform and hieroglyphics and bringing us all the way to the twentieth century with the advent of Monotypes, Linotypes, and the optical and computerised typesetting that succeeded them. Reviewers seemed to like it, Steven Heller among them, who wrote in Eye Magazine that:

Hun­dreds of books about books have been pub­lished dur­ing the past cen­tury…I will not claim that this one is the very best of all time. Yet The Book is possibly the best of our time.

Image courtesy of Jason Booher.

Alternatively, why not go old school and pick up a copy of Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols & Other Typographical Marks? Although it was based on material from this site, it is greatly expanded and covers symbols that have been only tangentially explored here, such as quotation marks, dashes, hyphens, asterisks and daggers. It was a lot of fun to write, and I did my best to make it an enjoyable read too.

So: that’s it from me for 2017. As ever, thank you all for continuing to visit, comment, and email! Enjoy the holiday season and the New Year that follows it, and see you all in 2018!

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