An exciting thing happened to me this past weekend and beginning of the week – something that hasn’t happened in a while. I was courted by a new semi-series of books and sent on a journey to find them and devour them.
The books in question?
Fangirl and Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. I was in line at midnight when the books came out. I also own a wand, multiple house ties, and plenty of other games and merchandise related to the phenomenon.
Rainbow Rowell takes this fandom and creates a fictional version of it. In her first book in the series, the main character, Cath, is starting at her new college. She’s a fan of the Simon Snow books, which are the equivalent to Harry Potter in our reality. A shy, self-conscious writer, she pens fanfiction in her spare time and amasses a huge following for her version of the upcoming eighth Simon Snow book.
Of course, life happens on campus, as it always does, and Cath finds herself falling in love, dealing with new life challenges, and begins to grow through her fanfiction and her new experiences.
I am only partway through this first book, but I am in love with it. Rowell’s writing voice is so refreshing. The pages flip by effortlessly and the story captured my attention.
Now, this blog post is titled “Courtship” because of the way this author hooked me in. Like a person eyeing me from across a room, these books made themselves known to me slowly.
I was at home for the weekend and sorting through the remaining pile of possessions to be moved to my new apartment. Needless to say, I have a lot of things I’ve collected over the years. So, this organizing was taking its toll on me mentally. I needed a good book to curl up with – but, most of my books were at my new place, and the ones I had did not interest me at all.
So, I turned to my Kindle app on my iPad Mini. Just like a real bookcase, I scanned through the covers. None of them really caught my attention, so I decided that I was on a magazine kick and opened the recent issue of the free Science Fiction & Fantasy digest.
The first article was a bunch of book recommendations.
Rainbow Rowell’s books were top of the list. I read the review, hooked by the mention of fanfiction and that culture. I too wrote fanfiction on the famous fanfiction.net under the username ~superguy. All those stories are still there to this day – testament to my growth as a novelist and overall writer. The author of the article convinced me that these books might be worth my time (Carry On being the main character’s fanfiction as a hardcover book – meta-fiction, to be sure) so I did the next thing that happens when I shop for books: I went to the Kindle storefront.
Sure enough, I found Rowell’s author page. I already knew what the book was about, so I ignored the description. The cover was intriguing in a simple way, so I clicked the “Look Inside” and previewed a few scrolls. I liked the formatting, and the first page was so easy to read.
I downloaded the sample onto my iPad, along with the sample for Carry On.
Before the night was over, I had read the entire preview for both books.
This led me to investigate the cost of the eBooks versus the physical editions. I have a thing for hardcovers, though the eBooks were beautiful in their own right. The cost was prohibitive for me to buy the Kindle editions (they are published by a traditional house) so, I searched sites for stores in my area.
Thankfully Bullmoose Books and Music had copies of both books, and I was happy to see that there was even a used copy of Fangirl for cheaper than cover price. I needed to get this book – and perhaps even the tie-in book. I needed to know what happened next.
The following day, Monday, I took my lunch break at the book store and flipped through Fangirl. There wasn’t much difference between the original, used edition and the special edition, other than a ribbon marker and illustrated endpapers. So, I went with the used edition.
I read pretty much all evening. And I’m not done yet. But, this author has caught me, and I won’t be surprised if I read the rest of her work. The last time an author like this caught me was JA Johnstone writing under her uncle’s name in January of 2015.
This is how a book courts me. I love it when that happens because it’s like I’ve discovered something that speaks directly to me and takes me away from the room that I’m in. It’s a connection that is as thin as a cloud, but as real as a tabletop.
I highly recommend checking out Rainbow Rowell’s work if you like fanfiction, fandom, or even felt out of place on your first day in the college dormitory. Fangirl just might speak to you the same way it’s speaking to me.