By: Peggy Sue Wood | @pswediting
Back in April, I wrote a post criticizing Ascendance of a Bookworm‘s main character, Myne, for liking bookmaking or the idea of reading rather than actual books. I stand by that statement still, as I feel like most of the series is still more about Myne and an isekai journey to being the greatest protagonist than it is about a rising scholar or bookworm–but I also realize that my example of Kazuhito, from Dog & Scissors, isn’t a timely enough comparison of a bookworm. (For those who don’t know but are thinking about checking out this older work: Kazuhito barely pulled away from his book long enough to get stabbed, then became a dog that got adopted by the author he adored, spent at least some point in every episode reading, and had a clearly defined preference of genre. It maybe isn’t the best work out there, but it was definitely fun as a series.)
Thankfully, this season we’ve been granted a grand case study in bookworms through the series Bibliophile Princess, which I will be talking about today.
Above is an image of Lady Elianna Bernstein, the crown princess engaged to Prince Christopher in this fantasy romance. She, along with her father and brother, are bookworms. They consume literature on a regular basis with an obsession for this pastime that has led to members of the Bernstein family gaining employment at the royal palace for the specific purpose of gaining access to the Royal Family’s unique and flourishing library.
They simply love books, and they use what they read often. Elianna, especially, is shown to have a knack for finding books and releasing cursory knowledge from what she’s read to the extraordinary benefit of the royal palace’s staff and kingdom, best expressed in Episode 2 with people singing her praises. This girl unintentionally made knowledge the best of the latest trends rather than becoming a fashion icon or socialite.
I love that the series makes references to different fantasy romance tropes, such as the stairs incident and drama at the market, and often references in-universe books. The most important reference, however, is to literary history. One such historical reference that this series has made so far is about the history of book burning. This specifically happens in Episode 5, wherein Elianna paraphrases a famous line from Heinrich Heine (a Jewish born, German poet) who wrote in 1797, “Where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people also.” It is a line that some consider prophetical as his work was burned by Nazis in the 1930s.
Now, this a light-hearted romance, so I think book-burning is the worst we’ll get in this fantasy universe, but there are a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle references to literary history in this work that I can’t help but adore. The characters that are bookworms express their devotion to book reading in ways that are not just a stated obsession, but rather an intentional application of knowledge for the benefit of themselves and others.
10/10: Recommend Bibliophile Princess for book lovers, romance fans, and those that love slow-paced stories.