Ascendance of a Bookworm: I’ll Do Anything to Become a Librarian!, Part 1: Daughter of a Soldier, Vol. 1

By Miya Kazuki and You Shiina. Released in Japan as “Honzuki no Gekokujou: Shisho ni Naru Tame ni wa Shudan wo Erandeiraremasen” by TO Books. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by quof.

There are people who read books about characters who are transported/reincarnated to another world in order to see fantasy battles, game-style powerups, harem antics, and a lot of plot packed into the first volume of the series. And I am here to tell you that those people should run screaming from Ascendance of a Bookworm, which I loved but is the very definition of “slow buildup”. In a way it’s sort of like Mushoku Tensei, in that a “loser-ish” protagonist is killed and reincarnated as a small child. But Rudy is born with lots of skills and gets training to use them fairly quickly. Myne, meanwhile, not only wakes up as a six-year-old in a fantasy medieval town that has few to no books, but she’s also constantly feverish and weak – even walking a short distance exhausts her. But, and I’m sure she’d be yelling at me for glossing over this, the important point is that there are NO BOOKS for her to read.

In Japan, Urano loved books so much that she was reading them in her family’s book-filled room when an earthquake struck, burying her under the books and killing her. Now she’s woken up as Myne, the youngest in a family that loves but doesn’t quite know what to do with her, as she’s almost always bedridden. Even now that she has Urano’s memories, she’s still weary after only a little activity, and it takes the entire book to get to the point where she can walk around town normally. Worst of all: no books, no paper, ink is super expensive, and the literacy rate for “commoners” is low. Sure, nobles have books, but Myne isn’t one of those. What can she do? Buy a book? Her family is poor, and there are no booksellers. Make paper? Much harder than it sounds. Clay tablets? Foiled by her sketchy knowledge from her prior life. Sure, she can read and do math faster than most kids, but with only one erasable slate to her name, what’s a book girl to do?

As you might guess from the unwieldy title, this is a long-runner. Part 1 is three volumes long. This first volume is fairly lengthy, and it’s also the shortest in the series – others will be longer. It does, however, reward a patient reader. There’s some terrific worldbuilding here, with Myne finding out about things at a reasonable pace. Myne can be very frustrating – her selfishness and anger is a problem throughout the book – but it makes sense given her health and situation. She really is that weak and feeble till about halfway through this, and seemingly has none of the “when you reincarnate, you get this cool sword/goddess/smartphone” cheats we’ve seen in other series. Thankfully, Urano read constantly, so has book knowledge… but the series does a good job of showing how that’s frequently not enough. (Helpfully, her mother was also a super handicraft woman, so Myne can break out a few skills beyond reading.) The book rewards patience, but it can be very frustrating seeing Myne bash her head against a wall over and over. While complaining.

There’s a revelation right before the end of the book that I won’t spoil, but it sounds like it will lead the way towards future arcs in the series. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a different kind of isekai, or are weary of “OP” heroes, this may be right up your alley.

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  1. I want to read this… but their publishing model makes my bank account cry.

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