Book Review: The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy

I’m all about lady geek empowerment up in here, so when I had the opportunity to review Sam Maggs‘ upcoming book, The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy, I jumped all over it. I first met Sam through my Walking Dead recapping at The Mary Sue, and I was thrilled to see that her awesomeness had transferred over to the book world. Here’s a basic summary of what the book is about:

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, including:

• How to make nerdy friends
• How to rock awesome cosplay
• How to write fanfic with feels
• How to defeat Internet trolls
• How to attend your first con

And more! Plus, insightful interviews with fangirl faves, like Jane Espenson, Erin Morgenstern, Kate Beaton, Ashley Eckstein, Laura Vandervoort, Beth Revis, Kate Leth, and many others.

Fun fact: Female Geek Blogger G+ group co-founder, Fandom 5 co-inventor, and Nerdy Girlie herself Megan Gotch is also featured in Sam’s book!

This book is a great read. It’s fun, it’s easy to get through, and it is empowering. Even better, it’s got some great artwork. Check out the cover:

Fangirl Cover…and check out the dustjacket/hardcover:
Fangirl coverEvery inch of this book has design in mind, and it’s awesome. Still, the content is what makes this book shine. Sam takes the time to talk about all the different areas of fangirl-ness, and she takes the time to explain and validate all of them. I saw my own fandoms represented incredibly well in the book, and I was able to learn more about fandoms I’ve heard about, and some I didn’t even know existed. Even cooler, she offers her readers tons of ways to get involved in the geek girl community, and gives readers tons of resources to get involved in the geek girl world in whatever way they’d like.

In short, Sam Maggs’ The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy is a celebration of the female geek, it’s an explanation to some of those new-fangled fandom terms you’ll find on the interwebz, it introduces various fandoms to readers, and it helps readers take their knowledge and make some friends IRL. This book is truly a fangirl’s guide to the galaxy. I highly recommend this to any geek girl out there, or anyone who has a geek girl in their life that they love and want to understand better. Her book hits stores TODAY, so you should go and buy yourself a copy!

Of course, with a book as rad as this one, no book review would be complete without a chat with the author. So I shot a few questions Sam’s way, and she graciously took the time to answer them. Here’s what she had to say:

sam maggs

Kendall: What inspired you to write Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy
Sam: I really wanted to write the book I wish I’d had when I was 15 and liked comic books and video games and felt like I had no one to talk to about it! I hope that this will make some other girls feel more confident in who they are and what they like.
K: You are a pretty prolific blogger. What drew you to turning Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy into a book rather than a blog series?
S: I actually had never considered writing a book before my agent approached me! She found me through Twitter and liked my writing, and asked me if I had any ideas for a book project. Fangirl’s Guide came to mind right away!
K: What are some of your favorite parts of geek culture? 
S: I love the passion, and I love the sense of community. It’s great to be able to be unapologetically excited about the things you love with other people who love them too!
K: Who are some geeky women that inspire you–women that are alive and shaking up the geek world today, women of the past, or even fictional women?
S: Felicia Day is a huge inspiration to me as someone who blazed her own trail in the geek community. Amanda Tapping is a wonderful role model for women as an actress and director and mom, too! Hayley Atwell is my current favorite – she’s so eloquent about women in Hollywood and in history.
K: What is the best piece of advice that you’d give to young women pursuing some sort of a so-called “geeky” career. be it something in tech, writing, games, comics, or anything else? How would you advise them to stand out in an often male-dominated field, and have their voices heard?
S: Never let anyone tell you that you can’t because you’re a woman. You can. You should. You will.
K: Because you’re vocal on the internet and you write for The Mary Sue, I’m sure you’ve gotten some hate on the interwebz for your intersectional feminist ideals. How do you deal with that?
S: For me, the number one thing is to keep yourself safe. If you feel like you can fight back and still keep your mental health and your safety, then you absolutely do it. For me, the block button is my best friend.
K: If readers only takeaway one thing from reading Fangirl’s Guide, what would you like it to be? 
S: Be who you are, and if the people around you don’t like it, there are a million other people out there who will.
K: What was the most surprising thing you encountered, moving from blog writing to book writing?
S: The back-and-forth process of working with an editor! Blair Thornburgh, a full-fledged geeky girl herself, edited the book, and constantly improved upon my writing and though of creative new ways in which to organize the book. It was such a positive and exciting experience.
K: What advice would you give to young writers–bloggers or future book authors–on how to succeed in this field? 
S: Be prolific! You don’t have any of the barriers to success that we used to have, because of the internet. Put your writing on a blog, put your art on Tumblr – before you know it you’ll be making your own books and comics too!
K: For all the awesomeness, there can also be some awful stuff that happens to women in the geek world. What advice do you have to offer women on combating it? 
S: Find a supportive community, either in person or online (or both!). It is so helpful to just be able to vent to people who understand you and have even had some of the same experiences you have.
K: Where can we find you online? 
Y’all, Sam has crafted an awesome book, and it’s definitely a must-read for any geek girls, fangirls, and young nerds. It celebrates the awesome diversity of the female geek community, and it helps bring us all together. If you haven’t done so already–and if you haven’t, what are you waiting for–head over to the Quirk Book website to buy yourself  a copy from your favorite retailer!

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