Having been active in fandoms for nearly a decade now, I'm always interested in learning more about the weird, fun subculture that is fandom. It's something I love to write about as much as I love to read about, so when Humble Bundle advertised a new book all about being a fangirl and how awesome that is, I was over the moon. I needed some more resources for my research, and aside from that, I'm always excited to find a new source of reference for exploring my love for all the things I have come to adore.
The Fangirl's Guide to the Universe by Sam Maggs is a fun, adorable book that is exactly what it says on the tin. It's an inside view of fan culture online and in person, covering everything from convention etiquette to critical analysis of the media you adore. The book also contains interviews with various popular figures including V.E. Schwab, Rainbow Rowell, Tara Platt, and many more creative women, asking what they consider a "fangirl," how fandom has influenced their lives and careers, and allowing them to share advice for other women in fandom. It's a strikingly lovely, easy to read, feminist-centric book.
The book is written in the familiar style and with the familiar lingo of most online fandom spaces. It includes a handy glossary of terms to help you understand not only the book but the wider fandom culture (similar to my own fandom dictionary). While this personally made it a bit harder for me to read, but that was primarily personal preference. I'm not a fan of the uber-specific lingo and abbreviation-laden talking style of most online spaces outside of their usual contexts; it strikes me as odd. But I do think it was appropriate in this instance, given the target audience is made of those who are used to seeing this writing style and can take joy in the camaraderie of it.
Other than that, I adored this book. It's full of fascinating opinions about gaining easier access to fandom spaces, finding friends with similar interests, and learning to talk about those interests, especially critically. Talking critically about media in a fandom space so often devolves into opinionated yelling matches, so it was lovely to see an easy-to-follow guide to respectful analysis that still highlights missteps on the parts of creators and how to address them. Maggs is wonderful at encouraging diplomatic but effective calls to change.
The Fangirl's Guide to the Universe is a fast, fun, positive read that encourages you to embrace your girly side while taking no shit for it, and to proudly wear your geeky heart on your sleeve. It's an excellent voice of hope for younger girls entering fandom spaces for the first time, and something I wish I'd had when I was starting out.
"You are important. You are strong, and brave, and beautiful, and amazing, and you matter. Don't ever let anyone devalue what you do, the things you believe, or who you are. You're awesome and your opinions are valid. Believe that!" - Sam Maggs, A Fangirl's Guide to the Universe.
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