The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy

I am a fangirl. (This likely shocks no one.) I totally geek out over Star Wars, Harry Potter, all things Marvel, Sherlock, Doctor Who, Supernatural, The Princess Bride, Firefly, YA literature, and way too many other things to name. I make no apologies for my preference for fictional worlds over reality. It’s just how I roll.

So, when I got the chance to read something titled The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks, I jumped on it. (Thanks once again to NetGalley!) In this book, Sam Maggs gives her fellow fangirls a bit of a guide to navigating geek culture, often seen as somewhat male-dominated. She presents information on various different fandoms (sometimes oversimplified, but whatever), being a fangirl online, surviving and thriving at conventions, and what it may mean to be a fangirl feminist. Between each chapter are interviews with famous fangirls, each talking about what the term means to them and advice for their fellow geek girls.

In the very first chapter of this book, Maggs talks about some of the major fandoms: Harry Potter, SuperWhoLock (Supernatural, Doctor Who, and Sherlock), Lord of the Rings, Otaku (anime and manga), Star Trek, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Marvel, DC, YA literature, Whedonites, and gaming. (You may have noticed that I fangirl over many these.) Now, Maggs is the first to admit that she’s left out/glossed over quite a few fandoms, and that’s okay. What’s not okay, then? Well, in my personal opinion (for whatever that’s worth), as much as I love the idea of a potential meeting between Sam, Dean, Castiel, the Doctor, Sherlock, and Watson, each of these fandoms should be given their own space. They’re all great in their own right.

The Fangirl’s Guide also introduces noobs to “fangirl-speak.” I’m not going to go into all of that here, but it is a nice primer if you’re confused about the difference between canon and headcanon, wonder why “feelings” has become “feels,” or have no idea what someone is talking about when they go crazy over their OTP or ship.

Maggs wraps up the first chapter with advice on how to get involved in geek culture IRL (in real life). She goes into how to meet up with like-minded nerds, how to convert friends into fangirls, and how you can “let your geek flag fly.” All of her suggestions are great…unless you suffer from near-crippling social anxiety. Then, you’re better served by connecting online…which leads me to the next chapter.

Chapter two, Geek Girls Online, discusses the various platforms for connecting with other fangirls (or fanboys), writing fanfiction (or creating any other type of fan art), and what to do about the loathsome Internet trolls. While I didn’t get a ton of new information out of this chapter, I do think it has loads of great advice for those somewhat new to being a fangirl. What’s important is to find the right platform for you and interact respectfully with your fellow geeks.

The third chapter, How to Survive Conventions, filled me with so much anxiety that I can’t even. Just the thought of so many people in one place gives me hives. That being said, Maggs gives a quick run-down of the major cons and their associated fandoms, what to expect at a con, planning and packing advice, choosing the perfect cosplay for you, and coming down from your time at a con. A great resource for someone looking for the ideal con for their interests.

I was pleasantly surprised to see one on the list that I actually do attend–YALLFest, a free YA book festival in Charleston each November. There’s just one problem, though. This festival is in SOUTH CAROLINA, not North Carolina. Hopefully, the author, editor, or someone else caught this pretty major error before this book went to print.

Chapter four is all about Geek Girl Feminism, something that’s been getting a lot more traction lately. With things like GamerGate in the news, it’s no wonder. (Look it up if you don’t know what I’m talking about.) As a longtime feminist, I truly appreciate this chapter and its message of equality for all. Geek culture is something that’s supposed to be all-inclusive. After all, we know what it’s like to be excluded, ridiculed, bullied, and the like. Do any of us really want to have a part in making others feel that way? In this chapter, Maggs talks a bit about some fangirl feminist terminology that people should be familiar with (privilege, mansplaining, objectification, male gaze, etc.), myths about modern feminism, and kick-butt female characters in comics, books, TV, movies, and gaming. She also encourages her fellow fangirl feminists to call our fandoms out when they show misogynistic tendencies.

The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy wraps up with some resources for further exploration. Most of these are blogs, shops, or YouTube channels that lead fangirls to new ideas in all sorts of geek culture: math, coding, science, fashion, cosplay, and much, much more.

All in all, I think this guide is great for fangirls who may be new to geek culture…or those who just want to know what in the heck the fangirls around them are talking about. If you’ve been a girl geek for a while, some of this info may be old news, but it never hurts to have a refresher. Even I–a fangirl for more than 30 years–learned something new in this book. I’m guessing you will, too.

The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy drops in stores and online on May 12th. I think this book would be an especially great addition to high school libraries. In fact, any library that serves a large YA population should add this book to its collection. Your patrons will thank you.

For more information on this book and author Sam Maggs, you can connect with Sam on her website or Twitter.

Have fun out there!

Geek Magnet

It should come as no surprise to anyone that I am a geek.  Always have been, always will be.  I embrace my geekhood and everything that comes with it.  Others, however, do not appreciate how awesome it is to be a nerd, geek, dork, or various other names I’ve been called over the years.  The main character in Geek Magnet by Kieran Scott is also unappreciative of the geeks around her.  In fact, she’d like nothing more than being completely left alone by all of the nerdy guys who seem to gravitate toward her.  Well, she may just get her wish…

KJ is the stage manager of her school’s upcoming production of the musical Grease.  That’s a big job, but it’s not the only thing she’s dealing with.  She’s got a major crush on the most popular guy in school, Cameron.  She’s afraid to go home every day because she doesn’t want to face life with her alcoholic father.  And she’s the object of adoration of every geeky guy in the school.  Something’s got to give before KJ completely loses it.

When popular girl Tama Gold makes KJ her special project, it seems that things might finally change for the better.  KJ begins to tell people what she really thinks.  Granted, she’s being a complete witch most of the time, but how else is she supposed to get her point across?  The geeks are finally giving her some space, and Cameron is taking notice.  Sure, KJ is losing a couple of friends, but that’s a small price to pay for popularity, right?  KJ even tells her dad how she feels about his drinking.  All the anger she’s been bottling up begins to pour out, and KJ has never felt lighter.

But does KJ (or anyone else) like the person she’s becoming?  What happened to the nice girl who loved her friends and respected those around her?  Is there any way for KJ to mix her new, confident self with the sweet girl she used to be?  And what will happen when KJ’s life at home takes a total nosedive?  Where will her popular friends be?  What if her true friends were really the geeks she pushed away?  Who will really be there when things get rough?

Join KJ on her journey of self-discovery when you read Geek Magnet by Kieran Scott.  And remember–“The geek shall inherit the earth.”

I have to say that Geek Magnet had more serious moments than I initially expected.  Those moments helped to create depth in the character of KJ, who was a bit shallow at times.  The book was a little on the predictable side, but that’s okay.  It’s a light, fun read that will really appeal to all of the Gleeks out there.  The ending was satisfying and showed that KJ learned something throughout the course of the book.  Not all of her issues were resolved, but she learned to embrace her true self and the people who she could really count on.

For more information about author Kieran Scott and her books, visit  http://www.kieranscott.net/author.html.

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder

I am a nerd.  Shocking, I know.  I can relate nearly anything to Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, X-Men, or various other staples of nerd culture.  I find joy in math, physics, and ancient history.  I’ve been playing the tuba since I was twelve.  I would rather read than, well, do just about anything else.  I’m a librarian, for goodness sake.  I embrace my geekdom and all that comes with it, so I was immediately intrigued by the title of my latest read, Into the Wild Nerd Yonder: My Life on the Dork Side.  Great title.

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder is essentially about a teen girl who is in denial about becoming a nerd.  Jessie is a self-avowed mathlete.  (I was on the math team in high school, so I can relate.)  She likes to sew and listen to really awesome audio books in her free time.  (Some of the books she listens to are Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer and Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin.  Excellent choices.)  She has all the makings of a true nerd, but her friends and her own ideas about what it means to be cool are holding her back.

Anyway, Jessie’s life is changing in some new and not necessarily pleasant ways.  Her best friends, Bizza and Char, have decided to go punk, and Bizza makes an obvious play for the guy Jessie has been crushing on for years.  Fast forward through some suitably awkward shenanigans–friendship over.  Now Jessie really doesn’t know where she belongs.

In study hall, Jessie becomes friends (sort of against her will) with one of the nerdiest girls in school, Dottie.  Dottie definitely marches to the beat of her own accordion.  Dottie invites Jessie to join her and her “nerd herd” for some Dungeons and Dragons adventures and to possibly help them make costumes for live role-playing games.  Jessie reluctantly agrees but soon becomes a willing participant in these activities considered “geeky” by others (and herself, if truth be told).  Can Jessie overcome her preconceived notions about what it means to be a nerd?  Will she ever realize that she’s a nerd herself?  Embrace the “Dork Side” when you read Julie Halpern’s Into the Wild Nerd Yonder.

This is definitely a light read.  It was a perfect start to my spring break!  I do so enjoy reading about people who are a lot like me.  I, personally, think nerds are awesome and are the most interesting beings on or off the planet.  Happy reading, and “May the Force be with you!”