I have a love and hate relationship with the word fangirl. I’ve come around to embracing it, to carrying the term proudly like it’s a flag I can stab in the ground wherever I go, but sometimes I think about where it gets us to use labels like fanboys and fangirls. Why not just fans? The thing is, I like what fangirl represents. It means being part of a community where you’re welcomed with open arms and not judged (usually) and having a category you know you unquestionably belong in. It can be a comfort. Knowing you’re not alone in your enthusiasm for insert any fandom here or in your need to wear the exact same shade of lipstick as Peggy Carter (it’s Besame Classic Color lipstick in Red Velvet) is like receiving a pat on the back. It’s with this affection for my fellow fangirls and the word fangirl that I dived into The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Geek Girls by Sam Maggs.
The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy didn’t disappoint. The pages offer a lighthearted and fun walk-through to embracing the geeky lifestyle. Don’t go in expecting a collection of essays. This is a book ideal for the uninitiated or new to fandom girl who wants to learn more about the bigger picture and the multitude of ways to express fandom feelings or to connect with like-minded people. The handbook walks readers through different kinds of fans, online resources, attending conventions, dealing with Internet trolls, and more. This book also wouldn’t make a bad gift for loved ones who don’t quite understand why you squeal over Lord of the Rings or who don’t know what OTP (one true pairing) means. The guide is short and split into digestible sections that make it easy to pick up for whatever amount of time you have available, and the layout is such that skipping around between categories is cake.
While those new to the geek lifestyle will benefit the most from Maggs’s guide, experienced members of the geek brethren will find an enjoyable read and possibly learn new things. We all know different franchises and corners of fandom so I found myself picking up new information about anime, gaming, and fanfic. The Internet speak peppered throughout the book made me feel like an out of touch old lady sometimes, but hey, I absorbed it and learned.
As mentioned, the guidebook is upbeat and positive, but Maggs doesn’t hesitate to be serious when it’s appropriate. She offers practical but always good to hear cautions about meeting Internet pals in real life for the first time, being mindful of your surroundings at conventions, etc.
Overall, The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy is informative with tips offered in an accessible, playful format. Newbies will find resources to enrich or extend their fandom, and celebrating fandom is truly what the book is all about. As a longtime fangirl, it made me appreciate the concept of fandom more because I like seeing people take their passion for any given topic and channel said passion into cosplay, theme parties, or debates with friends. It’s cool when a subject–fictional or otherwise–can inspire a spirited reaction, and The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy encourages that zeal.