If You Liked The Princess Diaries Movies, You’ll Love the Books

I can’t remember the first time I read The Princess Diaries. I think my mom picked up the first book for me from a thrift store when I was around 11. I’m 23 and I’m still obsessed with this series. Every few years, I find myself going back and falling in love with Princess Mia all over again. That being said, most people I find who loved the movies have never even heard of the books— which is crazy because the movies don’t even begin to scratch the surface of the incredible Genovian world that exists only within the pages of Meg Cabot’s incredible series. If you thought the movies introduced great characters and an awesome universe, then you’ll love these books. Without spoilers, here are just a few reasons you’ll love The Princess Diaries books even more than the Disney films.

  1. 1.   Think of her grandmother as more of a Lucille Bluth  

    Now, don’t get me wrong— Julie Andrews plays a kindhearted grandmother that we seriously all wish we were related to. In the books, Mia’s grandmother is more akin to Arrested Development’s Lucille Bluth. No spoilers here, but you can only imagine what having this type of woman in a royal family (drinking sidecars all day) can do when uninhibited by her absent adult son.

  2. 2. There’s more diversity

    In the movies, Mia lives in San Francisco, but the books take place in beautiful New York City. And it really shows. Mia and her mother live in Manhattan and spend tons of time in Greenwich Village and ice skating around Rockefeller Center. The diversity in The Princess Diaries is accurate to the millions of different people and cultures in New York. Mia’s friend group and classmates come from all over the world: Russia, Saudi Arabia, and China, just to name a few. Her peers are Middle-Eastern, African-American, Jewish, South Asian. There’s even a gender non-conforming side character too. Their diverse backgrounds are all integral to the plot, none of which feel forced or tokenized. Throughout the series, you learn all these characters’ backgrounds, languages, favourite cultural dishes and more. 

  3. 3. Her family is HUGE

    The movies show Mia uprooting her life in San Francisco and moving to Genovia full-time. In the books, Mia spends tons of time in Genovia but still mostly lives in NYC. During her time in Genovia (which she often spends on winter holidays and summer breaks), Mia learns all about this new incredible family, which she’s had her princess identity kept secret from all her life. The books dive in depth, not just about the crazy royal scandals, but also Mia’s mom’s side of the family, living quietly in rural Indiana.

  4. 4.   The worldbuilding is seriously detailed  

    The universe The Princess Diaries takes place in makes Genovia feel so real. As the series goes on, you’ll hear all about the physical geography, ecosystems, trade deals, natural wildlife— seriously, I could go on and on. This is because Mia’s diaries, though written in a journal as a first-person narrative, also include lots of little snippets from the real world. Newspaper clippings, ticket stubs, and tons of DMs fill the pages, bringing the lavish world to life.

  5. 5. “Shut Up And Listen” is the best thing

    Because this article is spoiler-free, I can’t go into too much detail. But If you watched the movie and wished you could see more of Lilly Moscovitz’s show (and her hot takes on everything), then you need to read the books. 

  6. 6. She writes in her diary at all times in all locations

    One of the ways this book series comes to life is by introducing the idea that Mia is a bit of a dork, who brings her diary everywhere. She notes on the top of each entry, not only the exact date, but the exact time and location as well. Sometimes it’s four a.m. in her best friend’s bathroom at a sleepover. Other times, it’s algebra class. She writes in the school cafeteria too, while also writing complaints that people in the cafeteria almost accidentally spill chilli on her notebook. Knowing she carries the journal everywhere adds an extra touch of realism and helps readers visualize the exact moments she’s describing.

  7. 7. Oh my god, the references

    The Princess Diaries books series was published between 2000-2015. All the references to mid-2000s movies and music seriously make my heart swoon. There are mentions of Prince William, Zac Efron, Britney Spears— pretty much anything a teenager would talk about. These pop-culture references are a definite source of comedy throughout the series, which also often uses slapstick humour to compare real-world scenarios to popular movies at the time. Plus, as the series goes on, Mia continually references The Princess Diaries movies and how they’ve changed her life. So many layers!

  8. 8. The women rule

    The Princess Diaries author Meg Cabot always writes a ton of incredible women in her novels. Believe me, I’ve read more than a few. In the books, Mia and her female friends are outspoken feminists. They form scathing opinions on the sexist behaviours they witness on school grounds. But they also have distinct personalities: Mia and her friends watch Sailor Moon and love everything Star Wars. Mia worries about animal rights and wants to be a vegetarian. There’s no “I’m not like other girls” type of girl-on-girl hate because all the girls are complex and nuanced. Lana Weinberger isn’t just the blonde mean cheerleader and Josh Richter isn’t just the dumb football jock. Every single character has depth, motivation and reason.