Noah Solloway's second novel from The Affair, Hannah's essay collection from Girls, and absolutely Mavis' popular Waverly Prep series from the movie Young Adult — there are loads of fictional books we would all love to read. (Fictional fiction books, if you want to get specific.) But Rainbow Rowell has done us all a huge favor and let us read one of those fictional books. Rowell's Fangirl spin-off novel Carry On takes character Cath's fan fiction and brings it to readers in the best, most meta way.
Carry On appears in Fangirl as character Cath's Simon Snow series fan fiction writing. (Think: Harry Potter-esque fantasy.) We readers clamored for the opportunity to read Cath's work along with her masses of online fans. Rowell has stepped into her character's shoes to write her first YA fantasy novel to fulfill that dream. And though it's full of magic and monsters, Carry On still has that heart and charm we love from Rowell's other YA novels.
Just like in Fangirl, the story follows everyone's favorite fictional (in fictional) 'ship Simon and Baz, who are roommates in the original (but yes, still fake) Simon Snow series. (Is your brain hurting a little bit yet?) The two attend the Hogwarts-esque Watford School of Magicks, and their universe is complete with vampires, ghosts, and all sorts of fantastical creatures.
Rowell isn't the first one to give readers the totally meta opportunity to read a fictional book that exists in the world of their characters. These other seven fake books-turned actual real spin-off books will make you wish you could enter every favorite author's fictional universe.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander
Spin-off from: The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling is the queen of (well, everything, but) giving readers access to the books her characters have in the Harry Potter series. Her colorful collection of fictional authors, like Newt Scamander and Kennilworthy Whisp, have allowed us Muggles to also own copies of the books tucked in the Hogwarts library. There's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch Through the Ages, and The Tales of Beedle the Bard — all of which appear as fictional books read by Harry, Ron, Hermoine and the rest of the wizards. It's like we can audit classes at Hogwarts. (And it's about to get even more awesome when Eddie Redmayne brings Scamander to life in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie.)
The Beatrice Letters by Lemony Snicket
Spin-off from: A Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler)
In a way, Lemony Snicket's entire existence as an author and A Series of Unfortunate Events series is meta. So his spin-off book The Beatrice Letters is like layering meta on top of the already meta-fictional. (Mind warp.) Snicket is a fictional author and the pseudonym of Daniel Handler. Handler, even in interviews, acts as the agent for the reclusive author Snicket (though Handler and Snicket's real identities aren't as much of a mystery as it once was). While the actual Beatrice letters aren't specifically mentioned in the books, installments of the Series of Unfortunate Events books are dedicated to Beatrice, Snicket's love.
For Beatrice-No one could extinguish my love,or your house.
In The Beatrice Letters, readers get a dossier of information about Beatrice, often coded in riddles and clues, as well as love letters between the author and his muse.
Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story by David Levithan
Spin-off from: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green
Tiny Cooper is a stand-out secondary character in David Levithan and John Green's collaborative novel Will Grayson, Will Grayson. But Levithan didn't just spin-off the character into his own book; he did something much more imaginative. In Will Grayson, Will Grayson, Tiny is writing a musical about his life. Levithan's Hold Me Closer , a full, published book, is the annotated script to that play. The only thing that could make it more amazing is when we actually get to see Hold Me Closer on Broadway for real.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
Spin-off from: Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente
In her adult urban fantasy novel Palimpsest, Catherynee M. Valente has her character November recall a favorite fictional book from her childhood. That book? The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. The book is only mentioned briefly in the pages of Valente's novel, but people were so enraptured by the idea that Valente wrote the meta fantasy novel for kids as a crowd-funded online project. Soon it was picked up by Feiwel & Friends, along with a sequel. Now kids can grow up with the same favorite book as a fictional character.
Ransom My Heart by Mia Thermopolis
Spin-off from: The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot
We all know Mia Thermopolis as the Princess of Genovia (or Anne Hathaway, depending) from The Princess Diaries series. But as we all learned in Meg Cabot's novel Forever Princess, Mia also wrote a funny medieval love story called Ransom My Heart. In Forever Princess, readers get to see Mia's writing process, her rejection letters, and what it was finally like to find a publisher. And then in a completely meta, fiction-becomes-life moment, we were able to actually go out and buy a copy of Mia's Ransom My Heart with her name as the author credit. (With a little help from Cabot, of course.) Both in real life and in fiction, all profits from the novel were donated to Greenpeace.
An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten
Spin-off from: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Sadly, we don't yet get to read the entire brilliant novel by reclusive (and fictional) author Peter Van Houten as Augustus and Hazel Grace do in The Fault in Our Stars, but we can get a glimpse into 6 pages now. An Imperial Affliction is the life-changing novel that parallel's Hazel's own experiences with cancer, and it's the impetus for the young couple's trip to Amsterdam. The six pages we do get are repeated over and over to build what looks like a full-sized published book as part of (real) author John Green's 2014 Project 4 Awesome charity event.
Amazing Amy by Rand Elliot
Spin-off from: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
In Gone Girl, Amy Dunne's childhood was captured in her psychologist parents' picture book series Amazing Amy . (Though anyone who has read Gone Girl probably knows that two psychologists don't always raise an emotionally stable person.) In honor of the movie adaptation's release on DVD, Amazing Amy Tattle Tale (shivers up my spine) was made into a hard copy children's book that should probably stay far, far away from any children.