Sam Maggs is Canadian author who I first learned about on the blog The Mary Sue (one of my favourites by the way/check it out). Her book The Fangirl’s Guide To The Galaxy: A Handbook For Girl Geeks has gotten mixed reviews but I think it’s a fantastic addition to a library’s YA nonfiction collection.
The book is light and quirky with hilarious one-liners that fangirls will appreciate. I was laughing, giggling, snorting and blushing as I read this in the airport on the way to the Canadian Library Association conference. As a girl geek myself, I connected with the text and flew through it in less than an hour.
This book isn’t specifically for teens but it is just what a certain niche of them needs. As Maggs points out, being a geeky girl can be lonely. In a small town a teen girl who likes manga, video games or super hero movies might not have anyone to share that enthusiasm with. Even in a big city geeks can be a reclusive group and finding friends can be a challenge for young women with interests that are more traditionally part of male subculture. Maggs points young women in the direction of real world and online communities where they can connect with people who share their interests.
She also talks about being safe online and at conventions. This is something she has been critiqued for including but I thought her advise about privacy was relevant and important for youth to hear from someone who has an active online presence.
The Fangirl’s Guide To The Galaxy encourages young women to embrace their individuality and be open about the things they love. She includes quotes from strong female role models and memorable fictional female characters. There is a commercial aspect of the book, linking to where to buy merchandise but this is appropriate in the context because fangirls want to know where they can find geeky products that are geared to women. She mentions some of my favourite sources for jewelry and casual clothes. I look forward to exploring the resources that weren’t already familiar to me.
Librarians who are not geeks themselves could benefit from the glossary of the book. Definitions of things like cosplay could be helpful in relating to youth and understanding the culture.
This book wasn’t exactly what I was expecting but it’s a good introduction to geek culture for young readers, and it will give the isolated girl geeks the reassurance that they are not alone. That ability to offer a sense of community to minorities is one of the best parts of YA books.