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The Fangirl Life: A Guide to All the Feels and Learning How to Deal

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You'd probably know a "fangirl" when you see one, but the majority stay relatively closeted due to the stigma of being obsessed with fictional characters. However, these obsessions are sometimes the fangirl's solutions for managing stress, anxiety, and even low self-esteem. Fangirling is often branded as behavior young women should outgrow and replace with more adult concerns. Written by a proud fangirl, The Fangirl Life is a witty testament to the belief that honoring your imagination can be congruous with good mental health, and it's a guide to teach fangirls how to put their passion to use in their own lives.

The Fangirl Life encourages you to use an obsession not as a distraction from the anxieties of life, but rather as a test lab for your own life story: 

How can a character girl crush be useful instead of a waste of time?  
How can writing fan fiction be a launching point for greater endeavors?
How do you avoid the myths that fictional romance perpetuates? 

By showing you how to translate obsession into personal accomplishment while affirming the quirky, endearing qualities of your fangirl nature, The Fangirl Life will help you become your own ultimate fangirl.

240 pages, Paperback

First published July 5, 2016

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About the author

Kathleen Smith

27 books108 followers
DR. KATHLEEN SMITH is a licensed therapist and mental health writer who lives in Washington, DC. She has written for popular publications such as Slate, Salon, New York Magazine, Lifehacker, Bustle, and Counseling Today, among many others. She is an associate faculty member at the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family and hosts the show Family Matters, a production of the University of the District of Columbia.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 59 reviews
Profile Image for Jamie (Books and Ladders).
1,265 reviews188 followers
March 16, 2016
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

This is a non-fiction, self-help book about how to channel your inner BAMF Fangirl into a BAMF Fanwoman that can rock the world. I so so so wish I had read this while I was in university because it would have been so helpful. Instead, I had to do some trial and error to figure out how to use my skillz to advance myself in the Real World. I would recommend this for any teenage fangirl who is FREAKING OUT about college apps, life decisions, and how to balance real life and fangirl-ing. I would also recommend it to people like me who have some idea what they want to do but want their interests and their goals to overlap so we can get paid to do things we actually enjoy doing.

Smith has a good handle on what it's like to be a fangirl and how to transfer those feelings into what it means in real life. I think one of the hardest things for people to do is to see how their skills impact their real life. I used to think that writing meta about Sterek on the internet was The Best Thing Ever™ only for a couple of months (and some rude comments) later to completely erase it from the internet. But how did this help me? It tightened my writing, I was able to analyze and critique things better. All great skills for writing papers in university. And EVERY ONE OF US has something like this. Even if you are just writing book reviews, you have to synthesize what you read and put it in a way that will persuade others to either pick it up or not. Those are valuable abilities to have.

FIND YOUR INNER GODDESS AND SET HER FREE MY LITTLE CHICKADEES. And pick this one up to remind you that sometimes people have those horrible plot lines before they get back on the right track.

Books and Ladders | Queen of the Bookshelves | Books Are My Fandom | Twitter | Instagram | Bloglovin'
July 5, 2016
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review. This does not change my rating or the content of the review.

The Fangirl Life is a self-help book, but it's not your usual self-help book. (I have enough of those – thank you, A&D.) No, The Fangirl Life is super sparkly special. It's written for fangirls (and fanboys) by a fangirl. (She's also a licensed therapist, so she knows what she's talking about.)

I'll admit, I went into the book thinking it would be more lighthearted, but Smith took the subject of dealing with "ALL THE FEELS" seriously, and it was sobering but also very...nice. People on the outside don't realise how passionate fangirls and fanboys are about their fandoms. Books, movies, TV shows –whatever it is you care about– have the power to make us soar and break our hearts. We suffer real hangovers when things end, and I know that I've fallen into deep depressions when characters I loved died. It's because of the power fictional stories have over my moods that I need this book. If you're the same, then you do as well.

That being said, while the book does genuinely take the approach of helping you work through the stresses and emotions of being a fan, it balances the serious with the playful. There are cute illustrations, cartoons and real-life quotes from other fangirls all over the place, as well as references to numerous TV shows and movies.

The book also aims to help you transition from Fangirl to BAMF (that's BadAss Muffin Fudger). There are so many great examples of how Smith took common advice that I've seen before in strictly professional arenas and transformed them into fangirl-relevant strategies. One such example is that of the Power Poses. Amy Cuddy of Harvard Business School said, in a TED Talk, that certain poses could make you feel more confident and powerful; Smith took that idea and made it more relatable, naming poses that you can immediately associate with scenes in TV shows and movies, such as "The Commander" (standing at the head of the table and leaning forward with both hands on the surface).

Commander Power Pose

Honestly, as someone who is about to start an MBA to become a future leader, this book is just what I needed. It combines my desire to become a stronger, better, more confident version of myself –AKA a BAMF– with my love for fangirling. (Yes, I love the things I fangirl over, but the act of sharing and squealing over those things also gives me life.)

The book does seem to focus more on TV and movie fandoms, but if you fangirl over anythingyou need this book.

Taken from the back of the ARC copy:

- Do you survive boring classes or meetings by imagining your favorite TV couple making out?
- Have you posted a lengthy diatribe on the Internet defending a fictional character?
- Have you gotten carsick from reading fan fiction on your smartphone?
- Has Netflix presented you with the "Are you still watching?" button at least once?

I can answer yes to all of those, and if you can as well...


See this review in its natural environment, Dani Reviews Things.

You can find me on Twitter and Instagram.

Profile Image for Jessica.
98 reviews5 followers
May 18, 2016
Maybe it's because I'm a fangirl myself, but I could not wait to read The Fangirl Life: A Guide To All the Feels and Learning How To Deal by Kathleen Smith. So when I had the chance to read an ARC, I excitedly started reading.

Let me state that I wish this book existed ten years ago. When I was first discovering fandom and my fangirl tendencies.

20-year-old Jess could have used this book as her guide through college and dealing with her anxiety and fears of rejection. 30-year-old Jess has taken a pen and marked passages, and written notes to help her deal with moving forward as the BAMF she has always wanted to be.

You can tell Kathleen is passionate about the subject and taking away the stigma that are associated with fangirling. She also does an excellent job of pointing out healthy and unhealthy habits we don't realize we have.

Hello, we can't be the Laura Roslin's or Leslie Knope's of our lives if we don't practice self-care, turn off the computer and go out and enjoy life. Fangirling is one small part of what makes us who we are!

I feel that after reading The Fangirl Life: A Guide To All the Feels and Learning How To Deal I'm ready to go out in the world my glorious weird self and any haters can eat it.

Kudos to you Kathleen this book is going to change so many lives and you should be proud of your impact in our community.
Profile Image for Maria.
612 reviews99 followers
August 13, 2016
“There is absolutely nothing wrong with being unusual because it’s the currency that keeps the world turning and worth writing about.”

It amazes me how fiction is, after all these centuries, still looked down upon. Even though I understand why someone would label it as an escape, I believe many are those who mistakenly paint it as a switch-off button to all that is real, some going as far as calling it cowardice. I mean, why would anyone want to shut down a reality that keeps slapping us with truths about beauty, failure and so on? Preposterous concept, right?

The Fangirl Life by Kathleen Smith is a charming reminder that the word escape doesn’t mean that we suddenly stop existing. Even though it could indeed be seen as a break from the outside world, the one inside keeps both eyes, heart and mind, open. What we see while there, what we go through, what we learn, it can be used on the outside, and The Fangirl Life by Kathleen Smith shows us how. Instead of sending us out of our way to buy materials to improve our lives, The Fangirl Life teaches us how to find them within ourselves and write the greatest storyline ever, with its breathtaking ups and heartbreaking downs.

One of the greatest things about this book is Kathleen Smith and her delightful writing voice. She won’t make you feel awkward for loving the world of fiction. Instead, she will wrap an arm around your shoulders and say, I know exactly what you mean. She embraces her passion instead of making you feel guilty for it, which in turn opens doors to a safe haven that will have you feeling at home and comfortable enough to give her learning how to deal suggestions a go.

As the author reminds us, our life is the greatest story of all time. As avid followers of the fictional world, we know just what a story needs to capture our attention and to keep us intrigued, interested and in love, all at once. As executive producers, directors, writers and main characters of this rollercoaster-style adventure, we have the power. All we need to do is acknowledge our imagination as a skill instead of a distraction, and learn how to use it. Sure, there will be obstacles and unexpected curveballs, but hey, didn’t Miss Fisher get through hers? If she can do it, so can we. At our own pace, with our own breaks.
“No single success or failure will be what defines your role in life. Good character development happens when you show up every day and be kind to others and yourself.”

Being a fangirl is not ridiculous. Being a fangirl is powerful and Kathleen Smith will help us find a way of putting that power to good use with The Fangirl Life.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am off to plan my AU day.
Profile Image for Jess at TeamAsthers.co.uk.
368 reviews61 followers
April 6, 2016
I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

I often feel fangirls are misunderstood and misrepresented. We're bandied up into this collective image of psychotic teenage girls so obsessed with their respective stars/fandoms that we become reduced to nothing more than shrill screeching, incoherent babbling and bedrooms lined with pictures of Justin Bieber's face. This is not the reality of 90% of fandom life, this is the minority. What is so refreshing about 'The Fangirl Life' is that it's not written by someone outside the bubble of fandom, but someone from within. SHE GETS US!

Kathleen Smith examines the fangirl life from all angles, talking us through where we could land on the scale of obsession: mild, moderate or full on squeeflailing, and how we can address it and perhaps change our thought process when it comes to fandom. There is even one super glorious chapter dedicated to the girl crush, hairporn and the psychology of the BAMF. Kathleen taught me that my anxiety is the driving force behind the intensity of my addiction and no sentence has ever been realer than when I read that one.

I would highly recommend this to all my fellow Lady BAMFs that are struggling to get through  the day because they've got fanfiction to write, 8 TV shows to keep up with and a brand new season of House of Cards to binge watch whilst drooling over Claire Underwood's wardrobe and Julianna Margulies' eyebrows. Don't fear kids, Kathleen has got your back.
Profile Image for Nan.
4 reviews
July 10, 2016
Witty and delightful, this author has written a quintessential and modern self-help book to optimizing mental health through the lens of 21st century social, media and pop culture. Quite clever actually! This book stresses good self-care by drawing from tenants of psychology and science and extrapolating them to real-life situations. Smith walks us through various scenarios including how to deal with trolls to finding an appropriate mentor to working through (fictional) deaths. Most importantly, at its core, it teaches us how to be the best versions of ourselves. One does NOT need to be a traditional fangirl (or fanboy) to enjoy this book!
Profile Image for Grace.
24 reviews
June 23, 2017
I'm sure this book will help someone, but that person is not me. I find the book to be pandering by throwing in every single reference to any potential nerdy thing. I could not get into the chattery nature of her writing style, which is filled with "disorders" that can be experienced exclusively by fan girls. These disorders are made up by the author, and I find that kind of disrespectful to actual mental health issues. If you enjoy reading self-help books, maybe it's for you. I most certainly am not this book's target audience.
Profile Image for Farquharson.
20 reviews10 followers
April 6, 2016
I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of this book and The Fangirl Life has helped me in ways I didn't even know I needed. The lessons Kathleen teaches in her pop culture peppered pages can be applied across all aspects of your life not just those fangirl tendencies. The friendly and approachable writing style make this a fun and invaluable life tool.
Profile Image for Noninuna.
846 reviews35 followers
August 28, 2017
Are you a fan of something? Yes? Then you HAVE to read this. It provides a lot of advice on how fangirl should behave, how to deal with fandom's drama, internal conflicts, what others feel about their passion or even how to take your skills in fandom into your job applications. It's a guide to be a fanwoman; a more matured, calm and elegant form of a fangirl. Because a fangirl never stops fangirl-ing.
I love, love, love this book! I just wish I read this when I was in my twenties. Any fangirl knows that being a fangirl, an avid one at that, it's like living a double life. Juggling between study, work and fandom is no easy task but we choose to live that life. Go fangirl!
Profile Image for Katey Lovell.
Author 27 books86 followers
October 11, 2016
Part self-help book, part pop culture observation, The Fangirl Life is a humorous and empowering read for any fangirl. By examining the skills/personality traits required to be a hard-core fan and giving examples of how these can be applied to other areas of life, Smith recognises what so many overlook - that being a fangirl takes loyalty, passion, commitment. She also encourages the reader to examine what they admire in their favourite fictional characters (especially females). The scientific approach was made more accessible by using popular acronyms and fangirl language, and I felt every inch the BAMF as I turned the final page. I loved this - it could have been written just for me.
Profile Image for Jeanette.
3 reviews
February 25, 2016
Full disclosure: I edited it. BUT, I would have wanted to read it anyway! This isn't a book about "how to be" a fangirl - if you're a fangirl, you already know that part! This is the book for every fangirl who has dealt with the highs and lows of the fandom life, who worries about "real life" friends and family finding out about her online fan life; who wants to interact with fiction and with other fans in healthy, positive ways; who knows the agony and ecstasy of shipping; and who needs a reminder that she's not alone in feeling stressed and anxious about her fictional passions. Kathleen is a smart, empathetic, and positive source of advice, commiseration, and fellow squeeing. Read this one, recommend it to all your fangirl friends; you won't regret it!
Profile Image for Catherine_b.
90 reviews1 follower
July 15, 2016
I absolutely loved this book. It spoke to me on so many levels. I’m a fangirl. I’m 26 and still love to read and write fanfictions. Some people have told me once: “You’ll grow out of it “ or “You are a geek in denial”…I haven’t grown out of it and I was in denial. I was in denial before I read this book. Will I try every technique the author suggested? Probably not but reading this allowed me to accept myself out of my family. Because up till now they were the only ones who new I was a fangirl and now, let everyone know. I don’t care anymore and I absolutely don’t care what other people will think about it. Thank you Kathleen Smith.
Profile Image for Libby.
258 reviews
August 22, 2016
Not quite what I'd expected. It looks like it would be a silly, funny book about being a fangirl, but it's actually more serious. The author has some really good ideas about using your fangirl-ishness to cope with the real world - things like dealing with addictions and writing résumés.

The only problem I had is that I couldn't decide if the tone was supposed to be funny or serious. Maybe it's both. Otherwise, it's a good book with some sound advice written in fangirl-ese.
Profile Image for goodbyewaffles.
735 reviews30 followers
November 6, 2016
cute, very self-helpy
kiiiiind of pathologizes fangirls? and like let's be clear, i'm a disaster, but i for sure know a lot of fangirls who are paragons of emotional health
this book probably would've been more useful to me when i was twenty-two and could still change my ways haha (yeah i know i missed the whole point of this book)
1 review
July 2, 2016
Loved it! A very motivating take on how to use all the good of your fangirl personality. Would recommend to any fangirl, of any age.
Profile Image for Carly.
Author 1 book77 followers
April 22, 2016
A book for fangirls by a true fangirl! I wish Kathleen was my professional fangirl therapist, because SHE GETS IT.
Profile Image for Diana Lorena Sepulveda.
552 reviews63 followers
December 30, 2016
"Danos algo que valga la pena ver".

Con esta frase Kathleen Smith termina su maravilloso recorrido por la vida de una fangirl.

Antes de continuar con mi reseña, quiero decir que me siento muy orgullosa de estar haciendo el primer comentario en español de este libro. Y creo que todas las fangirls, angloparlantes o no, deberían leerlo.

En especial si, como yo, eres una fangirl que ha luchado con las cosas propias de ser una friki: las cejas alzadas, las miradas recriminatorias, las risas disimuladas (o no tanto).

Siempre he pensado que ser una fangirl/friki es de las mejores cosas de mí misma y que se puede hacer algo con eso. No en vano, mi línea terapéutica profesional es la Terapia Friki (que empezó en USA como Geek Therapy).

Para mí Kathleen es una de nuestras pioneras y espero que este libro sea sólo el primero de muchos más. En él, recorremos todos los aspectos de ser una fangirl: los sentimientos, las OTP, los fanfictions, el cosplay, el duelo, y más, para llegar a concluir la necesidad de no quedarnos en nuestros intereses, sino de hacer algo con ellos.

Y como Terapeuta Ocupacional no podría estar más de acuerdo, porque son los intereses los que motivan nuestros hábitos y desarrollan nuestras habilidades.

Y ser una fangirl es un rol más de nuestras vidas, al que le debemos el mismo respeto de todos los otros!
Profile Image for Donnell.
587 reviews11 followers
May 19, 2017
Quite a fun and informative read for a middle-aged lady like myself. Though did feel a bit out of place, especially when the author says something like this to the reader: you weren't even born before 1977, when I was born decades before that particular year.

A foreign language is decoded and some good advice given, like creating a "not to do" list, e.g.:

"*Stopping a book if it sucks

*Quitting a tv show when its jumped a shark [which adorably means the writers are desperately trying to keep attention on a fading show like having Fonze water ski over a shark on Happy Days--and I remember how Happy Days lost it near the end.]

*Blocking websites that distract you

*Unsubscribing from emails that are irrelevant.

*Saying no to social obligations that provide no joy.

*Not texting people back when they're stirring up drama."

Great rules to follow--only wish I'd started following them sooner, especially the one about social obligations.

When reading about the strong women in shows that can inspire fans, had Cat Grant, Kara Danvers and Agent Danvers of Supergirl in my mind.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
32 reviews1 follower
June 14, 2017
The Fangirl Life is an inspirational guide with real takeaways for fangirls to make their quirks work for them and not against them. Inspired by the blog FangirlTherapy.com, where therapist Kathleen Smith helps fangirls with their problems.

"The Fangirl Life: A Guide to All the Feels and Learning How to Deal" by Kathleen Smith is a completely awesome self-help book for every BAMF Fangirl and Fanwoman in the world, written by a licensed therapist who is a wonderfully, open Fanwoman herself. From start to finish, I found this book a funny, yet helpful and insightful look into what it means to be Fangirl or Fanwoman, and how it can affect your life and those around you, and how to keep that a positive and health experience, while staying true to your fangirling self.

I absolutely give this book 5 stars and think that any girl and/or woman who has ever enjoyed a TV show, movie, comic book, fanfiction (writing it and/or reading it), book or anything else based on a storyline, plotline, topic, or character etc, etc, etc) should absolutely read this book! 💜 💜 💜
Profile Image for ReenaPon.
5 reviews1 follower
August 22, 2017
I found this book by search query "your otp is dead" and really didn't hope for much, and I was wrong. This book gave me so much more than I could ask for from a self-care book for fangirls. First of all, i know how we can be a little (and more) crazy sometimes, and i was really expecting a recommendation to give up my passions (and just to be adult already!), and i was relieved because it's not that kind of book!
This book assists with basic self-care stuff and building self-confidence on regular basis, it helps to establish a healthy relationship with yourself and other people both IRL and inline, including a little advice for treating your significant other. And all it not by refusing your fangirl passions and FEELINGS, but by using it.
It have useful narrative psychology practices and even some GTD and time-management tricks.
I love this book for the way it inspired, encouraged and helped me to believe in myself as I believe in all of my favorite characters. And it's great!

Kathleen, thank you and I mean it.
Profile Image for Linda.
1,087 reviews9 followers
October 25, 2017
I should have made this a bathroom book rather than one I carried in my work tote bag. I would have likely finished it sooner than I did.

I realize I'm an amateur Fan Girl since I didn't recognize many of the "ships" and characters author Kathleen Smith sprinkles throughout the book to make her point. And sorry, you could have done a better job of mentioning the end of BSG without giving away a major plot point.

She is honest about her different fandoms, prolific in fangirl lingo and adept at showing how your fan girl activities can change into real life vs. fictional actions. The book skews a little young for me but I did glean a few nuggets to tune up my real life including a good credo for life, "You see grace in the goofy and hope in the horrible."

Stellar slogan for fangirls, fan women and BAMFs or civilians.
31 reviews
June 21, 2020
Not a fan of the book, I finally finished it though. While I related to some of it and could do with some of the advice I found that a lot of the references and the kind of person she talked about cringe-y. Yes there are people who are over the top but to me it seems more like a caricature of a fangirl. Plus for a lot of it felt unnecessarily gendered, like yes women and girls should have resources that don’t also target boys and men but we don’t just have to look up to only women there are male characters that we can also look up to and who have traits that we can encourage in others.
Author 5 books4 followers
June 27, 2017
I'm not a fan. The idea of a nonfiction book about fangirl life seemed intriguing but the actual book was a letdown. Stereotypes abound and assumptions run rampant. The Fangirl Life reads more like a cheesy self-help book for the internet's idea of a fangirl than a book about fangirl life. Probably the worst offence for me is how condescending the author is towards a group she claims to be part of.
Profile Image for T. Finley.
356 reviews34 followers
May 15, 2018
I didn't relate to this book quite as much as I thought I would. Apparently I'm not as hardcore of a fangirl as I thought. However the book did get me thinking. It challenged me, and I think that's what the author intended.
Did I like it? Yes.
Would I reread it? Maybe.
Would I recommend it? I'd consider it.
Profile Image for Jen.
1,410 reviews35 followers
December 14, 2020
DNF @ page 21

This is just not what I wanted it to be. The author is a therapist but I was expecting a more lighthearted easy read. What I got was an incredibly dull and dry book that reads how I imagine a therapy session would go.

I put this down for 2 months, finally forced myself to pick it back up and then couldn't even skim without getting super bored. This is not the book for me.
Profile Image for Abby.
251 reviews13 followers
November 23, 2018
This book could have been 3x as long and even better. I liked it, but it seemed a bit too "on the surface" sometimes. I do want to own this book though, and highlight the tips and reread it! Very good overall :)
January 2, 2019
This book started out strong with a good basis in mental health, but I struggled through the middle quite a bit. I didn't quite relate to a lot of the author's fangirl experiences, but it was a decent read overall.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 59 reviews

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