Books about Fangirls, Fanboys, and Fandom | A Reading List

Here’s the scoop. I’m writing a fangirl sci-fi mystery thriller asexual romance series—hold on! let me catch my breath!—and it’s going to be great. I have always loved books about fangirls, fanboys, and fandom in general, and I wanted to capture that spirit in One True Crime, the first novel in the series. The novels each incorporate a different fandom: the first one is Professor Zero (a.k.a. Doctor Who), the second is Deduction Seduction (a.k.a. Sherlock), and the last one I have planned so far is Thorns for Crowns (a.k.a. Game of Thrones). I love playing with fandom and how it intersects with (in this fictional universe) crime, identity, deviance, love, and friendship. All the things. Anyway, I’ve definitely taken inspiration from several novels about fandom, fangirls, fanboys, and general relationships on the internet in general. Here are some of my favorite novels about fandom, fangirls, and fanboys.

Fangirl and Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

"Fangirl" and "Carry On" by Rainbow Rowell
“Fangirl” and “Carry On” by Rainbow Rowell

Of course, any list of the best novels about fangirls and fandom has to start with Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, an explosive hit YA/NA novel by Rainbow Rowell. In this wildly popular novel, Cather moves into her dorm at the University of Nebraska and rooms with a bold, spunky woman named Raven. Her friend—or boyfriend?—Levi keeps hanging around coming up with excuses to get Cather out of her room and into real life…away from her epic status as an author of Simon Snow (a.k.a. the Harry Potter series) fan fiction that has a cult status among fellow fangirls and fanboys. Rowell’s novel captured the fangirl essence and wrote a ballad to fandom life. The sequel, Carry On, is pitched as the “Carry on, Simon” fan fiction that Cath became famous for. It’s very meta but definitely a must-read for all fangirls.

Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Hegelson

"Gena/Finn" by Moskowitz and
“Gena/Finn” by Moskowitz and Hegelson

This YA novel, Gena/Finn, is an epistolary novel, or a novel told in letters. Here, the novel is written as emails, texts, blog posts, fan fiction, comments, journals, and more. It’s a unique and novel approach to telling a story of fandom. Our heroines are Gena and Finn. Finn, who recently graduated college, is older than Gena (or Evie as she asks to be known), who is a senior in high school when the novel begins (and 18). The two strike up a friendship as fans of a teen supernatural show. Gena is also the author of massively popular fan fiction. As the novel goes on, Gena and Finn become close, quite close, a friendship tinged with some romantic lust. This is complicated by Finn’s relationship with her boyfriend. When tragedy strikes, they all band together to get Gena through this and sort out their complicated relationship later. This novel is a great look not only at fandom, but also at friendships that start online and the potential attraction that can happen in those spaces.

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash

"The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love" by Sarvenaz Tash
“The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love” by Sarvenaz Tash

Sarvenaz Tash’s debut novel, The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love, deals in geekdom. The main character, Graham, has his heart set on telling his best friend, Roxie, that he is in love with her. He knows just when he’ll do it, too: at New York’s Comic Con after they get to see the closed-door, ultra-fan only discussion with the reclusive collector of their favorite comic. And yet. And yet. When the unexpected happens, will Roxie and Graham finally get together? Or amid cosplay and panels, will their romance remain a fiction? This novel is fun, it’s breezy, easy to read, and packed with pop culture references. It’s a great summer read for any fanboy or fangirl out there, especially exploring friendship among people who share the same fandoms.

Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw

"Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here" by Anna Breslaw
“Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here” by Anna Breslaw

I really enjoyed Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here, the debut novel by Anna Breslaw. This contemporary YA novel is about the titular character, Scarlett Epstein, a nerdy young woman who loves to write fan fiction about her favorite supernatural high school TV show. And pine for her crush, her former best friend, from afar. In the opening chapter, the show is shut down, and Scarlett and her fellow fic writers are unsure how to proceed. As her own personal life starts to get more complicated, Scarlett winds up writing a fic inspired by her own life—and those of her bullying and vapid classmates. When her fic is discovered, Scarlett might lose everything she covers, including her friends, her family, and the hope of a reconciliation of her crush. This novel was billed by some as a modern day Harriet the Spy, my all-time favorite children’s book. It definitely is a clever reinterpretation of Louise Fitzhugh’s story, and Scarlett’s bitter and relentless sardonic commentary on her classmates through the lens of fandom is fascinating and almost voyeuristically good. This is a great summer novel, breezy but with some serious themes about family, friendship, popularity, and, of course, fandom.

The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Anderson

"The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You" by Lily Anderson
“The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You” by Lily Anderson

This adorrrrable contemporary romance is the debut novel of Lily Anderson, a writer and a librarian. A retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You is an utter delight, especially for geeks. Our heroines, Trixie Watson and Ben West are arch enemies for so long that the rivalry has taken on a life for itself, a Sherlock vs. Moriarty and Doctor vs. The Master level of epicness. But in their senior year, Trixie and Ben’s best friends start to date each other, throwing them into each other’s orbit and asked to play nice. This novel is like nerd novel porn and is funny and so well done. I recommend it for anyone who loves love stories, especially with a liberal sprinkling of geeky references thrown in for good measure.

The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs

"The Fangirl's Guide the Galaxy" by Sam Maggs
“The Fangirl’s Guide the Galaxy” by Sam Maggs

Even though it’s not fiction, Sam Maggs’ The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxyis a must-read for all fangirls. A short guide and a tiny book, The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy, helps the novice (and pro!) fangirl navigate differences between fandoms, clarifies all the slang and lingo you’ll hear as a fangirl, discusses how to find a fan community both online and off, and, finally, what I consider to be most important: how to live as a fangirl in the at-times dude-heavy nerdiverse. My niece is a fangirl, and come Christmas I will definitely be giving this to her.

What fandoms do you represent? What are your favorite books about fandom? What do you want to see in a book about fandom? Leave a comment below!

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