Emote Through Discussion! Bookish Fangirling

header-bookish-fangirlsOne true thing about book bloggers is that we are all passionate about reading. We wouldn’t be blogging about books if we weren’t passionate about them, right? The time and dedication, the endless hours of writing posts, looking for future “must” reads and talking about the stories that we love… these are all activities that occur in the daily life of a voracious book blogger.

With that being said, exactly what level of passion is required in a book blogger? Over the period of over three years during which I’ve blogging about books, I think it’s safe to say that I have acquired a pretty clear picture of the sort of person dedicated enough to this hobby to actually start blogging about it. I think it’s also safe to say that we all have (to some degree) displayed obsessive and, oftentimes, fangirlish behaviors. Myself included.

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(Can we say “Tiger’s Curse”, anyone?)

“Fangirl” is frequently used as a derogatory term in order to insult those who go to [what are often considered by society as] extreme measures in displaying their love for a specific person or thing. These “extreme measures” may include: making audible noises anytime the person or object is within view, being actively vocal about their love at any given opportunity, camping out or showing other dedicated and/or physical proof of their love, etc. One could argue that by writing reviews (which are oftentimes full of gushing praise) and/or being vocal about our love for books on social media, we are essentially “fangirls” (or “fanboys”). Do you agree?

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Let it be known that I DO NOT consider the word “fangirl” to be neither derogatory nor negative. I respect and admire anyone who is passionate about anything in their life. Even better if the thing that you are passionate about is books! But there are a few things that I have noticed about fangirling that has me thinking…

Fangirling is Time-Sensitive

I created a handy little graph to help visualize the cycle of book or author-specific fangirling.

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Typically, for most of us, we reach maximum fangirl capacity when books are initially released. Sometimes the obsession starts sooner if we see people with said book or we happen upon it ourselves (usually as an ARC). But no matter, the cycle is still the same.

Fangirling is Temporary*

It would seem as though, if one is whole-heartedly dedicated to one book or series by an author to the point of extreme fangirling, their love will last forever, right? Wrong. There is no guarantee that someone will have the same reaction to the author’s subsequent works or even when the very same work they had fangirled over in the past is re-released in paperback form.

Answer me this: how many of you reading this continue to this day to experience the same fervent love and joy you (might or might not) had for series such as Twilight or The Mortal Instruments back while they were still being released?

A typical reaction to Twilight today (even by previous fans).

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There are some rare cases where one’s love only grows, though. I’ll give you that. My passion for all things Harry Potter only grows stronger as the years pass by… I am currently as big of a Harry Potter fangirl as I ever was. And I know many, many people who continue to rave over re-releases by Stephanie Perkins, Sarah J. Maas and Marissa Meyer.

Fangirling Creates Mob Mentality

One voice can ripple though social media and grown from a drop in the ocean to a great tsunami. It’s this same effect that can cause a sort of “mob mentality” when it comes to fangirling.

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Have you ever noticed – say when you’re voting in the YA Sisterhood Crush Tournament or the Book Shimmy Awards – that the same handful of series or “fandoms” always seem to win, no matter the quality of the competition? This is due to the overwhelming domino effect that amasses a mob of fangirls who will rally for their “cause” (ie. prove they are the largest fandom).

This same mob mentality causes our very passionate readers to also speak out (quite vocally) in other areas of their lives. I wonder if our very natural inclination to be passionate is one of the reasons why there is so much drama in the author/blogger online community? (Hmm…)

Fangirling is Powerful

I honestly believe that it is the obsessive and addictive nature of humanity perpetuates “fangirl” behaviors. Those who succumb to their natural urges when it comes to materialistic and/or pop culture also tend to financially support and create the backbone of specific fandoms (and as a result, franchises).

Without “fangirls” Twilight would have been no more than a blip on the historical timeline of literature. Without the fangirls who read young adult fiction, the initial spark (and consumer dollars) that launched the acquisition of other popular titles – such as The Hunger Games or Divergent, or even The Fault in Our Stars – would never have occurred. To this day, we see young adult titles being picked up at an increasingly rapid pace.

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But how long will this spark last before exhaustion sets in?
Are we inspiring/influencing future generations of even more powerful fangirls?

Fangirling Will Always be Looked Down Upon

No matter the influence or power that fangirls hold, their actions and the label of “fangirl” will likely never be widely accepted by society. It is a known fact that those who make the extra effort required to be deemed a “fangirl” are often be seen as weird, awkward or creepy…

animated-gif-fangirling Okay, I guess that is a tad bit creepy.

But what of it? I would rather see people passionate about things (and spending their well-earned consumer dollars on something that benefits something that I personally enjoy) than not care about anything at all. Ridiculing people for their likes and passions – and actively liking something somewhere other than the comfort of their couch – is downright wrong.

So to the dissenters I say…

The next time you see someone who (outwardly) looks like this:

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…Please just take a moment and tell yourself this:

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…Because even someone as horrid as Justin Bieber appreciates his fans.

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(Don’t be more horrid than Justin Bieber.)

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What are your thoughts on fangirling?
Do you agree or disagree with any of my assessments above?
Let’s fangirl together in the comments below!

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8 comments

  1. Nikki says:

    This post has gotten me thinking – are we differentiating between the act of “fangirling” as a visible manifestation of enthusiasm, and the enthusiasm itself? Because if so, then I totally understand the graph of the fangirling ups-and-downs — visible enthusiasm (fangirling) definitely peaks right before/at release dates, and calms down after. But I’d have to argue that, for many fans, that doesn’t mean there’s a decrease in enthusiasm even when the visible “fangirling” lessens between releases. I feel like true decreases in enthusiasm are caused by things *other* than the fact that the latest book just came out.

    Fangirling is “temporary” for almost everything. For many of my favorite authors, my enthusiasm definitely *doesn’t* diminish between releases – but the *fangirling* does wax and wane depending on whether the author has a book coming out soon, or has just announced news, or things like that. But enthusiasm can wane too — I fangirled over Lord of the Rings books/movies when the movies were being released, but since then my *enthusiasm* for that franchise is definitely not as sharp as it once was, so my fangirling diminished because of that.

    For me, actual *decreases in enthusiasm* for a fandom usually happen after enough time has passed that my tastes have changed, or maybe shortcomings I ignored before are harder to gloss over, or maybe I’m just burnt out from TOO MUCH of the thing (it happens!), or……. there could be any number of reasons. But there are definitely different things that cause decreases in fangirling vs. decreases in enthusiasm. Sometimes they’re related, when decrease in enthusiasm creates a decrease in fangirling, but sometimes they’re not, and fangirling just decreases because of current events in that fandom.

    THAT BEING SAID, isn’t it wonderful that, even as tastes change, we still find things that can get us just as excited as that-other-thing used to?? I will never NOT be a fangirl. I need these wonderful things in my life that get me excited — because they’re also things that get me to reach out and connect with people so that I can get them excited too, or so we can share in our excitement together. It’s truly unfortunate that many people have a negative association with the term “fangirl”, when really, we’re all “fangirls” for something — or “nerds”, “geeks”, “superfans”, call us what you will.

    There’s a great quote by John Green — who, incidentally, I *used* to fangirl over, but since then my enthusiasm has waned. But I have never stopped loving this quote:

    “Nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff. Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-your-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. When people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is, ‘You like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘You are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness.'”

    Just because nerds often enthusiastically love what isn’t pop-culture/mainstream (books, “nerdy” movies, comics, etc) doesn’t mean that their/our love is less valuable. Heck, I don’t understand people’s obsession over sports (football, soccer, what-have-you), but I’m not gonna disparage them for it. They love what they love. I love what I love. LET’S JUST ALL LET EACH OTHER LOVE THINGS OKAY!?!?!?!!! ;D

  2. Carina Olsen says:

    Ack! This post is gooorgeous Jenna. <3 And so much truth too, lol 🙂 I consider myself to be a huge fangirl. Especially when it comes to books. <3 I spend waaaay to much time on bookish things each day. Ack. But I love it. I love it so so much. <3 I'm also the biggest fangirl when it comes to The 100 too, lol 🙂 BELLAMY. <3 You have seen it, yess? <3 Anyway. Thank you for sharing this amazing post sweetie 🙂

  3. Michelle @ In Libris Veritas says:

    I am an unapologetic fangirl. Most of the time I don’t see it as a negative…though I will say I do get freaked out when someone fangirls so hard they become super loud, super excited, and super in my face…Then I’m like ‘woah..back up and calm down a bit’. I’m also not fond of people who are pushy in their fandoms, but those are a rarity.
    Oddly enough I don’t fangirl over a lot of books, or at least not for very long. As soon as I finish the book the fangirl in me sort of quiets down and I move on. Unless it’s something that has blown me away completely. And yes Harry Potter is something that doesn’t fade, it grows. The older I get the more I appreciate the books and all the details I didn’t pick up on the first time through.
    On the other hand if you give me a video game and I fall in love with it I will fangirl all over the place. Same goes with a comic book. I’m much more vocal about those than I am with books (I don’t have a ton of readers in my personal life).

  4. Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide says:

    YES, I will always be a fangirl for my most die-hard series/authors but it’s true that it does wane from time to time. Not that I don’t love them anymore but sometimes I actually think back and I’m like “Wait, it was really THAT GOOD, right!?” (especially when I look back at things like Twilight haha!)
    I think it’s good to fangirl! The ONLY ONLY issue I have is when it becomes “too much” and of course, whatever that definition is varies for everyone. I LOVE seeing people’s enthusiasm buuuut.if it’s for an AUTHOR and it starts to get a little creepy, obviously that’s not okay. (I mean, I don’t have an example but you know) and also *ahem* when I see too much of a good thing. I push the books and things that I love but……… I will NEVER watch The 100. I can’t escape it! It’s EVERYWHERE on Twitter and by now I’m so annoying by seeing it (though I’ve muted everything I can about it now) that it makes me never want to watch it. It’s a tricky line when you fangirl! I always want to make sure that I’m sharing love and joy and trying not to push people or shove it in their face (not that I’m saying that’s what happened to me and The 100! It was just too much to see it flood my Twitter feed)
    Anyway. Whew. Just had to say that haha! But I totally fangirl and we all do! I love seeing the love for authors and books and movies and TV shows and how many people have started one of those because of someone else’s fangirling 😀

  5. Nitzan Schwarz says:

    I am a proud fangirl. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being one, and if one wants to see and use it as a derogatory term… that’s on them. I will just grin wide and say “yes. yes I am.”
    For me, fangirling depends on when I read the book, and then when someone mentions it. If anyone mentions Harry Potter, it doesn’t matter how long it’s been since the publication, imma be right in that conversation and praise the lord (aka J.K. Rowling) until people run away from me screaming. So, yes, it’s time sensitive BUT triggered very easily.
    I feel the same love for Harry Potter as I did when it published, and some other books. Yes, not all of them. I still hold Twilight dear to my heart, but I make fun of it more often than I fangirl. BUT the *real* loves of my life I adore today as I did when they published.
    However, considering all the books we read, one CAN’T fangirl over all of them the same way. Yes, we tend to fangirl over what’s fresher. And what you say is certainly very true to TV in my case.

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