Ascendance of a Bookworm: I Don’t Understand Its Popularity

Source: Ascendance of a Bookworm, vol. 3 cover

By: Peggy Sue Wood | @pswediting

A few years ago, I read the beginning volumes of Ascendance of a Bookworm. I thought it was okay, but there was nothing in particular that hooked me. The explanations felt like the kind of tutorials and information I’d see in a Dr. Stone story, and the characters were as unrecognizable to me as almost any other reincarnation/isekai I was reading at the time. Moreover, Myne’s love of books felt more like a love of bookmaking, with an obsession for reading that felt about as deep as Kazuhito from Dog & Scissors. That is to say, less to do with actually reading stories and more to do with quantity consumption.

Now the manga has an anime adaptation that I haven’t been able to get into and it’s about to enter its third season. Meanwhile, Rising of the Shield Hero–a series I love and think is probably one of the best isekai stories I’ve watched–is just starting its second season after 5 years of waiting.

I guess, my question is–what makes Ascendance of a Bookworm so appealing? Because I really don’t understand.

In trying to understand, I picked up the series again from the beginning. I read Myne’s story through to Chapter 40 where I immediately stopped. Because Delia (image below), a gray shrine maiden, who is only 8 years old, tries to seduce Benno, an adult man. It doesn’t go far, but it stands out that the character, despite being naive of the world, has apparently experienced this kind of behavior, or has been encouraged to act this way, enough so that she views it as a “skillset” developed for survival or self-advancement (*vomits*). Sorry for the run-on there; I hope that last sentence made sense.

Source: Ascendance of a Bookworm | Chapter 40, Character: Delia

I find its popularity even less understand now that I’ve read to this point. 

I mean, putting Delia’s situation aside, Myne is inconsistently empathetic–showing concern for some on a surface level, like ‘oh, that’s unfortunate,’ and being overly sympathetic to others. Strangely, her seeming lack of empathy is often directed at those who need more understanding (Delia, for example). And, don’t get me started on the lessons! After she makes shampoo, her teachings about different topics or items are simply confusing, which is a lot like her story arc, as it makes no sense to me. And, overall, she’s boring as a character.

I could say the same for the world-building, magic, and art (it’s boring). There are a few interesting scenes every now and then, but not enough–in my mind–to get interested in seeing three seasons of content so close together. Though, perhaps the novel is better? I can’t really see how, considering my difficulty enjoying the other forms of this story, but 🤷🏻‍♀️.

So, if you like it–please tell me why. I’d like to understand why this is such a popular series, because, as it stands, I don’t get the hype at all.

8 thoughts on “Ascendance of a Bookworm: I Don’t Understand Its Popularity

  1. I got hooked hooked by the manga an startet reading the light novel. Waht i liked is the flow of the story. How the world gets bigger and bigger and how Myne changes the world with her presence and ideas. Waht i also Like ist the side Charakter development and the bounds which are created and separated.

    Delia ist Charakter which ist sadly here to state and show the current situation in this world. She ist threaded cold because she ist ah spy even thou she dose not know this herself. She try everthing just to not send back to the orphanage.
    Delia gets her moments in the Story.

    I Just like the world and how Myne presence changes the world even thou she just wants to read. Myne may be borring at first sign but
    cares about people around her.

    Sorry für the bad English. Fun Fact all Names are a mishmash of german words.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yep its all about world building the amount of detail how it all fits in the narrative, after reading alot of isekais this one cares about stuff that other isekais simple ignore.


  3. Rising of the shield hero literally deals with sex trafficking and the slave trade in general but you cannot seem to handle a plot point specifically designed to make the viewers sympathize with a character.
    Delia was doing everything she could to not go back to the orphanage which if you recall was a horrific place where they allowed the children to basically starve to death.
    You being disturbed by Delia’s actions and her aspirations was the point of her character.
    And yes at first myne was not very warm to her, but that was because she saw her as a threat to her survival. The head priest had the power to remove myne as a blue robe and basically sentence her to death if anything Delia reported was juicy enough to use as a weapon.
    If you had at all bothered to read beyond something that made your snowflake heart falter then you might have seen how myne DOES begin to care for Delia and even sympathize with her.
    You just stopped at the first sign of the world being corrupt, no wonder you have such a trash opinion


  4. Why exactly did you stop reading when Delia tried to seduce Benno? There’s an explanation given there and it’s perfectly understandable.

    Maybe it’s so popular because most people aren’t pretending to stand on a moral high ground and able to understand nuances about other worlds/societies.

    On a side note, I still read the shield hero manga. It was somewhat good when it came out but recently it’s terrible.


  5. I don’t know, as long as the anime keep me interested or not be bored by it (even if it’s a boring anime, if it’s too much boring then I’d drop it). Heck I won’t even notice the flaws of the anime I watch not until someone points it out. As long as I enjoy the anime and not give me a lot of wtf moments or secondhand embarrassments/cringe, then I’ll continue watching it. I just don’t think about complicated stuff like critiquing an anime, I just base my taste of anime to how I enjoy watching it. I enjoy watching Ascendance of a Bookworm, that’s just it.


  6. i read the manga then watch the anime, neither of those can make me sympathize with the character and understand their perspective but i still want to know what is the next plot.

    i start reading the light novel, was hesitate at first, this is my first light novel. The light novel was so well written and able to make me on a roller coaster of emotion and understand those characters action from their perspective.

    The world building, the culture, the social structure, the politic, the character personality are so detail and expanding in a pace that doesn’t make me burn out.

    I binge read it and reread it again, the writer manage to convert me into a bookworm, lol.


    1. Thank you for letting me know! I’ll try picking up the novel since it sounds different from the manga/anime adaptation (based on your recommendation here). 😀


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