Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks, The

Sam Maggs
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 conAnd 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.


Reviewed: 2018-01-03
I won a copy of this book from the publisher, Quirk Books, via a BookLikes giveaway. This in no way affects my opinions of the book as expressed below.

I۪ve been a huge fan of The Mary Sue (, a website devoted to diversity and feminism in pop culture, for several years now, so when I found out that the site۪s associate editor Sam Maggs had a book coming out about fangirl life, I was on it in a minute. Not only was I already a fan of Magg۪s writing for the site (and her personality on Twitter), but books about geek life geared towards women are thin on the ground since, like any geek-centric product, it is generally assumed that the consumer is male. This attitude is gradually changing, but the books are slow to catch up, unless they are trying to capture a very specific fandom group (Supernatural anyone?). Just take a look at one (of many) lists about must read۝ geek books: See a pattern? Other than the SFF subject matter, they are nearly all dude-centric (the D&D handbook is debatable, I guess). This list is maybe a bit skewed for fiction, but the nonfiction selection, books like American Nerd: The Story of My People and The Geek۪s Guide to Dating, are also focused almost exclusively on the maleness of geekdom (though neither is a bad book).

Well, no more my geek sisters! Sam Maggs۪ Fangirl۪s Guide to the Galaxy has arrived to fill the void in our fandom-loving hearts! The title doesn۪t lie, it IS a guide to many aspects of geek culture, but it also more than that; it is a celebration and a validation of the glories of being a geeky girl. It can also be seen as a reclamation: Maggs helps us take back the term fangirl,۝ which for a long time has been a pejorative in the culture, used to demean girls who are invading۝ fandom and characterize them as fake or overly enthusiastic (as if you could love too much and not enough at the same time).

Fangirl۪s Guide has something for everyone; I read it straight through, but it also lends itself perfectly to perusing and flipping open at random, as each topic is clearly defined and beautifully laid out. Maggs covers everything from how to attend a convention safely and how to combat online trolls, to the best ways to get your fanfiction noticed and where to seek out some of the best heroines our current media has to offer. She intersperses her intergalactic exploration of geek girldom with interviews with her fellow awesome lady geeks, like writer Erin Morgenstern, Valkyries comic collective founder Kate Leth, comic writer/artist Kate Beaton, actress Tara Platt, and many others.

Aside from the much needed representation of girls in geek culture, why would any self-professed geek need a guide۝ to being themselves? Thanks to the internet, we are more connected than ever, but in real life we۪re generally pretty isolated from fandom at large. Understanding how to navigate through the minefield that is the web, and the crowded, socially challenging realm of conventions and meet ups is vital information that many of us have to figure out through trial and error, but Maggs gives us the tools we need to make enjoying and sharing what we love easier to navigate. She۪s been there, done that, and she۪s here to share her hard-won wisdom with us, which is really valuable when, like me and a lot of self-identified geek girls, we have experienced rampant sexism, social anxiety, and a host of other kinds of negativity that can wreak havoc on our psyche. She also writes in a thoroughly engaging style, incorporating all of the glorious fangirl in-speak and pop culture references that make her writing for The Mary Sue(and other venues) so much fun, and allows her to tackle important topics, like embracing feminism or engaging with online trolls, with a light touch.

I would also be remiss if I didn۪t mention that the book itself is beautiful, from the layout and gorgeous contrasting color scheme, to Kelly Bastow۪s fabulous-yet-understated illustrations. (I am a bit biased- my favorite color is teal/turquoise, and it is the dominant color throughout).

I suppose it is an intended irony that I am fangirling over Fangirl۪s Guide. But Sam Maggs has given us something not only fun, but valuable; a guide but also a badge of honor. I can carry my copy, with The Geek Girl۪s Litany for Feminism۝ proudly displayed on the back cover, and feel like I am waving my flag for the world to see.

(I desperately need a print of The Geek Girl۪s Litany for Feminism,۝ with Kelly Bastow۪s awesome female superhero from the cover together, like, stat. Someone needs to make this happen. Or point me to where it has already happened.)

(Cross-posted on BookLikes: and tumblr:
Reviewed: 2017-01-26
I don’t think this book was for me. It felt targeted towards young girls/people who are just discovering fandom and pop culture. It’s not really a book FOR fangirls.

It contained good encouragement for young girls/people finding fandom though sometimes felt a little preachy. Like when discussing different fandoms it talked about defining characteristics and accessories. I thought the only thing you needed to be a fan girl of something was passion for the thing. So I didn't like that section because whilst it listed popular fandoms, it kinda preached a particular way to enjoy or participate in that fandom. 

In the section about being a fangirl online, it seemed there are quite a lot of rules girls need to follow online to be a fangirl and avoid being attacked by men online. And god forbid she could stand up for herself with her own words. Remember to always be polite online ladies or no one will like you. That was the message I felt I was getting and I didn't appreciate this sentiment and I know it was coming from the perspective of don't start flame wars but it felt more general than that. Pretty much, the rule should be don't be a douche. Be respectful. But you can voice strong opinions and argue with people online in respectful ways. It felt like girls should be quieter online to avoid confrontation. In some circumstances, yes, but I don't like the idea of preaching compliance and docility to young girls. Was a little discordant with rest of book. 

I skimmed the convention section because I don’t live in North America.

I did like the persistent encouragement to unabashedly pursue fan life as well as the interview sections.
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