Monday, May 28, 2007

Reader's Diary #269- Lucy Jago: The Northern Lights (FINISHED)

I don't have a lot more to add to my earlier posts about this book, but I guess some sort of wrap up is still necessary.

All in all, I enjoyed the book and learned more useless trivia to tuck away. Which reminds me, could you join my "Put John Mutford On Jeopardy" Facebook group? Kidding. Geez, tough crowd. Is this thing on? Etc.

I stick by my earlier comment that the title might lead people a little astray. The book is about Kristian Birkeland first and foremost. While it's true his obsession was understanding the northern lights and that a somewhat clear explanation of the phenomenon is provided in the epilogue, the book deals more with Birkeland himself. At various points, it is easy to forget the northern lights at all. Somewhat like the real thing, the aurora borealis is not be seen for many pages at a time.

It's in a similar vein that someone could make the case that the title, or the lights themselves, can also serve as a metaphor for Birkeland's life; misunderstood, flashes of brilliance, and so forth. Still, had one the desire to push that angle, I still think using a metaphor as your title could be seen as a little deceptive. There is however, a tagline underneath the title that reads, "The true story of the man who unlocked the secrets of the aurora borealis" so I can't complain too loudly. It's just that while I was intrigued by the man, I felt short changed on the lights themselves, despite the disclaimer.

I also have to comment on a page at the end entirely devoted to the font; "This book was set in Monotype Dante, a typeface designed by..." Maybe you've seen this in other books as well. Is there anyone out who is seriously concerned with such details? Okay, I appreciate that it wasn't printed in Comic Sans but really, do I need to know the name of the font? Yes, yes, I can skip the page and stop my whining. In the meantime, tell me why they do this. Do you care?


Barbara Bruederlin said...

Is it just my imagination or is Comic Sans the most universally hated font? And we used to have a secretary who used nothing but. Also purple ink.

But I too have noticed those pages, entirely blank except for the typeface announcements, and am completely perplexed by them. Why don't they have another separate page telling us what weight of paper the books was printed upon?

John Mutford said...

I confess, I do use comic sans, but only for things I'm writing up for children. Basically, it's just to help them out when they go to print- they don't have to worry about printing a g that looks like a tiny cobra or an a that looks like Q-Bert.

Dale said...

Interesting about the book even with the disclaimer, I'd no doubt feel short changed a little too.

I've wondered about the pages that describe the font in books. Is it so I'll know which font to demand of a publisher if I ever wrote a book?

John Mutford said...

Dale, It's a minor complaint really. Had it been called, "Birkeland" or something like that, I'd probably not have ever cared to read it and would have missed out on an otherwise fascinating story.

Regarding the font thing, I guess that's as good a theory as any.