I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs
Published by Quirk Books on May 12th, 2015
Fanfic, cosplay, cons, books, memes, podcasts, vlogs, OTPs and RPGs and MMOs and more—it’s never been a better time to be a girl geek. The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy is the ultimate handbook for ladies living the nerdy life, a fun and feminist take on the often male-dominated world of geekdom. With delightful illustrations and an unabashed love for all the in(ternet)s and outs of geek culture, this book is packed with tips, playthroughs, and cheat codes for everything from starting an online fan community to planning a convention visit to supporting fellow female geeks in the wild.
I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, but Quirk Books always manages to convince me to check out their titles anyway. When The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy was announced, I knew I had to have this book. As a proud fangirl, this book would obviously validate my identity and provide me with giggle-worthy pop culture references. This book was certainly fun, but just a bit too basic for me.
The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy serves as an introduction to the fangirl lifestyle. It covers everything from the biggest fandoms, to fangirl speak, to fanfiction, to social media and dealing with trolls, to conventions and cosplaying, to places and opportunities to meet fellow fangirls. It’s loaded with pop culture references (loved the shout outs to Whoufflé (OTPPPPP), the YA Book Nerd fandom, and QUEEN RIZA MOTHERFUCKING HAWKEYE) and classic fangirl moments and mannerisms. Any self-respecting fangirl will find themselves nodding along. There are even some interviews with famous fangirls, including Victoria Schwab, Beth Revis, and Erin Morgenstern!
There’s also a strong feminist aspect to The Fangirl’s Guide. Fangirls are often shunted or shamed, and the geeksphere is only grudgingly coming to terms with the fact that girls do game, and girls can read comics, and girls deserve to be treated as equals. In the last chapter of The Fangirl’s Guide, Maggs covers some of the troubling aspects in the media and how sexism continually rears its ugly head – though it may not be immediately obvious. It’s important that this comes to light, so I greatly appreciated this inclusion in the book. Maggs also comes with tips on how to hold meaningful discussions about sexism in media and recommends TV series, movies, and games with excellent feminist characters.
I can’t help but compare The Fangirl’s Guide to The Geek’s Guide to Dating by Eric Smith. Both are non-fiction geeky titles full of pop culture references, beautifully designed inside and out. The Geek’s Guide is mostly geared to guys and focuses singularly on dating, while The Fangirl’s Guide is geared to women and focuses on embracing the fangirl lifestyle entirely. I think if you loved The Geek’s Guide, you will probably love The Fangirl’s Guide as well – though The Geek’s Guide has a slightly more humorous tone, and The Fangirl’s Guide instead adds an empowering feminist element.
Ultimately, though I enjoyed the utter geekiness of The Fangirl’s Guide, I feel it’s a bit too basic to truly amaze me and similar readers. This is clearly an introduction to geekdom and fangirlhood, and as someone who has long since embraced that identity, there was very little new material for me. I mean, I love books so much that I made this book review blog; I made friends online and then IRL – forming my own book club; I’ve been to conventions – not only BEA last year, but a fair few anime conventions back in the day; I have cosplayed, read fanfiction, and been to midnight movie premieres. And certainly there’s value in spotting the details of my favorite fandoms and fangirl elements – I gigglesnorted a couple of times because certain passages were just that relatable. I loved the last chapter on feminism, but it was such a short part of the book. As it is, ultimately I don’t think this book was meant for me.
I do think, however, there is a group of people that this book will be infinitely more meaningful to: the closeted fangirls. People who feel isolated with their passion for whatever fandom they’re a part of, who haven’t been able to meet like-minded people yet, and who don’t know where to start. There are tips here about social media, local events/clubs, and conventions, which may serve as encouragement for them to get out there. But more importantly, there are empowering passages – particularly in the interviews – about what it means to be a fangirl and why no one should conceal that identity. The term “fangirl” has for so long carried a negative connotation, but that is changing now. Being a fangirl means you are passionate about something – a fierce ambassador for a piece of media you love. That passion will open the doors to friendships all over the world with like-minded passionate human beings. I remember feeling ashamed for my love of anime and manga in high school, and I believe this book would have meant so much to me if I had had it then.