As an introverted geek girl, I’m guilty of living life through a media lens. As good and bad things happen in my life, I will always equate it to the things I see in games, films, TV shows, books… As well as retreating into these places when I need to take time out from the real world. I also know I’m not alone in this. I’ve spoken to many other ladies who do and have done the same thing, and it’s refreshing to know that I’m not in the minority, despite what others might say.
This is where Secret Loves of Geek Girls comes in. It’s an anthology, a collection of short essays, comic strips and anecdotes by a variety of women who write about how their nerdy passions and love lives intersect. It features musings on love, sex and relationships as well as thoughts on a variety of fandoms and how they inform and can change one another. The women spoken to come from a variety of backgrounds, ethnicities, sexualities, relationship statuses, ages, and desire levels creating a truly diverse and inclusive reading experience. Secret Loves is collated by Hope Nicholson and features works from Marguerite Bennet, Jen Bartel, Megan Kearney, Danielle Corsetto, Sam Maggs and many other ladies who you will no doubt recognise from nerd culture and fandom.
This book combines love, passion, excitement, and nerdery, and is an absolute thrill to read. The huge range of writers and their varied backgrounds allow for a hugely nuanced experience while reading: you find yourself able to connect with one story, but not necessarily all. I find that this huge variation is what makes me love the book so damn much; it feels like an entire lifetime of geek girl experiences and advice cram-packed into one, gorgeous tome which I feel every nerd girl should have on her shelf. By no means is it an explicit guide to dating, but it’s something much better; it’s a shared experience. Everyone who has written an entry has suffered those first-date jitters, endured an awful Tinder date or been one half of a long distance relationship.
These ladies write with such fun, unique voices, and throughout my multiple read-throughs, I have found myself giggling more than once. However, it’s not all giggles and crushes; some stories are sad, some full of anger, some of yearning and the way in which these emotions translate to the page is incredible. One of my favourite essays in the book is by Cherelle Higgins, with illustrations Rachael Wells and Meaghan Carter. It tells the story of escapism through reading (specifically through Tolkien) while set against a backdrop of political turmoil and racism. It’s not an easy story to read by any means, but it shows just how important fandom can be to people, as well as the rumblings of a first crush. Love, escapism and survival abound in this story and it hit me on a deep emotional level. I’ve never experienced anything even similar to what is described in this story, but after I read it, I found myself having to take some time to process it before I continued. Some of the essays in this book hit hard, and that only makes me love it more. If all things were easy to read, where would the challenge be? And where would the capacity to learn new things be?
I love how nerdy things have impacted other people’s lives in the same way they’ve impacted mine. Like these ladies, I’ve been able to connect with other people through our shared fandoms and it’s been awesome! It’s refreshing to find that I’m not alone, and that all the people who have written in this book feel a similar way. Another thing I love about this book is that I don’t agree with the sentiments of all the essays: and I think that’s great! It’s so important for anthologies to feature differing points of view from different experiences which challenges the reader, and I found my own viewpoint being challenged multiple times. I absolutely must commend Nicholson on choosing such a wide selection of writers and artists to be included.
The works take different forms; personal essays, short comics, accompanying illustrations and stunning full pages of sumptuous artwork. They’re interspersed well throughout the book, with a good balance between the two, meaning you’re not reading essay after essay after essay. There’s always some art sandwiched between them, and the variation in styles is superb.
Reading this book feels like a big, nerdy hug in the best possible way. It challenges my ideals, opens my eyes to new ideas, and above all else- lets me know I’m not alone.
Secret Loves of Geek Girls is published by Nicholson’s Beside Press imprint, and can be purchased as either a PDF or a paperback from Nicholson’s website here.