Title – The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks
Author – Sam Maggs
Nonfiction – Instructional Guide
Release Date – May 12, 2015
Source – NetGalley
I’m absolutely loving that our culture is undergoing a shift for the better these days. Until recently, to be a geek or a nerd was seen as a negative thing – it conjured up images of the 30-year-old male living in his mother’s basement, wearing a headset and playing video games all day without making a real contribution to society. Or maybe an overweight group of geeks gathered in a back room to play obscure and mysterious tabletop games.
But our culture has evolved and today we find ourselves in a more enlightened place than ever before. Marvel movies are automatic blockbusters. Graphic novels and comics have experienced an explosion in popularity and renown. Just this morning, I walked into my local Meijer and noted a handful of “geeky” tabletop games in the toy section. And when the weather is nice, I often pass a group of people LARPing (live action role-playing) in the park!
I love that people are realizing that it’s okay to be who you are, love what you love, and be absolutely passionate about it. As a fangirl and all-around nerd myself, I spend my weekends playing video games, adore Wil Wheaton’s TableTop show, and carry around a Batman backpack with a Legend of Zelda wallet inside. I own a TARDIS lamp, Master Sword, Shield of Hyrule, and a variety of nerdy t-shirts.
But at times, it can be really hard to be a female trying to navigate the waters of the nerd community. Whether it’s the guy behind the counter at the video game store who assumes that he is an expert and I know next to nothing or family members who continually challenge me to defend my hobbies and interests, feeling belittled and like I should be ashamed occurs all too often.
That’s why this book is really important. Sam Maggs writes about what it means to be a fangirl. The book is comprehensive, covering topics ranging from convention tips to how to handle online trolls. Included are helpful glossaries and resources, interviews with famous fangirls, discussions on feminism and its importance, site profiles and info for women artists and creators that everyone should know, a discussion of different kinds of fandoms, and more. The tone throughout the book is warm, humorous, and inclusive. It’s really perfect for any lady geek, regardless of their familiarity level with nerd culture.
Most importantly, passion is encouraged, never belittled. Regardless of fandom, interest level, or expertise, all fangirls are encouraged to let their love for their fandoms shine and to never be ashamed. In a largely male society, where rape culture is the norm, feminists are labeled as man-haters, and things like GamerGate exist, it is SO important that girls are taught to know and value their own worth, to be independent and strong, to love what they love without feeling ashamed or inferior to their male counterparts. It’s easy to see that Maggs feels the same way, as it is expressed well throughout the book.
If I had any complaints, I might say that the book occasionally lacked depth and seemed designed more as a lighter introduction to the world of female nerd culture. But the scope is already pretty comprehensive, and any single topic could spawn a book (or several) on its own, so to devote the time and attention to each topic at a deeper level would probably have changed the book entirely, making it longer and probably less humorous. So it does work well the way it’s designed.
I’m definitely planning on buying a copy of this as a go-to resource guide. I want my friends and family to read it, to understand me and how nerd culture is shifting. And because it’s important. It’s important to show support to female creators, to speak out about equality, to stand up for what we are passionate about. If we don’t, nothing will ever change.