LIGHT NOVELS: BOOKS

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Enjoy the best 25 light novels of all time lớn read in English including the classic series and latest trends


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A light novel is one of the coolest modern Japanese cultures while anime & manga have been known more commonly as leading Japanese contents recently. However, don’t forget that light novels which are generated by Japanese pop culture (or subculture) becomes the basis of anime and manga adaptions. Current popular anime series are adapted from the light novels.

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Speaking of Japanese novels, Haruki Murakami, Soseki Natsume & other modern authors are famous worldwide. At the same time, light novels can be positioned as part of Japanese literature.

The definition of light novels are not clear in a general way. Lớn put it plainly, light novels often have an anime-style illustration on the book cover and some character illustrations are added inside the book as well. That kind of novels were sold in nhật bản from around the 1970s and it is said that light novels originate with that date.

Light novels became widely recognized when the legendary Slayers written by Hajime Kanzaki (illustrated by Rui Araizumi) was published in 1989 though there were a small minority of the fans in the whole society. Since then, now-famous titles have been released in nhật bản and the light novel is one of the most popular book genres as well as manga & novels in the present day.

Today, I’d like to introduce the best light novels of all time for both beginners and advanced readers. Many popular books are translated into English & other languages so that you can enjoy reading them in your native languages.

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25. Goblin Slayer

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Goblin Slayer Light Novel

A popular ongoing dark-fantasy light novel Goblin Slayer (ゴブリンスレイヤー)was originally released on a Japanese textboard in 2012. And then, the current format as a light novel has been published since 2016.

The main character Goblin Slayer is the soldier who takes his life on hunting goblins. The manga và anime adaptions have been made for its popularity.

Author:Kumo KagyuIllustrator:Noboru KannatsukiPublished: from 2016Genre: Dark fantasy, Adventure


24. Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average In The Next Life?!

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Didn’t I Say to lớn Make My Abilities Average In The Next Life?! Light Novel

Didn’t I Say to lớn Make My Abilities Average In The Next Life?! (私、能力は平均値でって言ったよね!), which has been published since 2016, is categorized as fantasy and Isekai.

A high school girl Misato is killed in a traffic accident & is born again in the parallel world as a teenage girl namedAdele. She finds out that she has a much more powerful abilities than average while she asks khổng lồ make her abilities just average.

Author: FUNAIllustrator:Itsuki AkataPublished: from 2016Genre: Isekai, Naro, Comedy

23. Katanagatari (Sword Tale)

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Katanagatari Light Novel

Katanagatari (刀語), which means Sword Tale in English, was written in 2007-2008 byNisio Isin who is one of the most famous light novel authors in Japan.

The historical story is set in the fictional japan around the Edo period. The protagonist Shichika Yasuri begins his journey to collect the 12 legendary swords fighting the owners and other enemies. Katanagatari was made into an anime adaption with 12 episodes in 2010.

Author:Nisio IsinIllustrator: TakePublished: 2007-2008Genre: Historical, Action


22. The Rising of the Shield Hero

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The Rising of the Shield hero Light Novel

The Rising of the Shield anh hùng (盾の勇者の成り上がり) is the popular ongoing Naro light novel published as both online và physical books from 2012.

The university student Naofumi Iwatani is suddenly transported to the fantasy world and given a role asthe Shield Hero. There are three other heroes in the same situation, but they have offensive weapons such as sword, lance & arrow. The Shield hero manages lớn fight enemies with the defensive shield.

Author:Aneko YusagiIllustrator:Minami SeiraPublished: from 2012Genre: Naro, Isekai, Adventure


21. Arifureta: From Commonplace to lớn World’s Strongest

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Arifureta From Commonplace to World’s Strongest Light Novel

Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest (ありふれた職業で世界最強) has been published on the user-generated novel website Shosetsuka ni Naro since 2013 while its paper books are also published from 2015.

A nerdy high school boy Hajime Nagumo is summoned lớn the fantasy world with his classmates. He is represented as an antihero or dark nhân vật in the story. The first season of the anime adaption was released in 2019.

Author:Ryo ShirakomeIllustrator: TakayakiPublished: from 2013Genre: Naro, Isekai

20. Spice & Wolf

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Spice và Wolf Light Novel

Spice và Wolf (狼と香辛料), one of the most known fantasy light novels in the 2000s, has been published since 2006.

The setting is the fictional world that is inspired by the medieval Europe and the story focuses on the two main characters. Atraveling merchant Kraft Lawrence encounters various incidents on his trip with the wolfpersonifiedHolo who looks like a human-wolf hybrid.

Author:Isuna HasekuraIllustrator:Ju AyakuraPublished: from 2006Genre: Fantasy, Adventure


19. Death March to lớn the Parallel World Rhapsody

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Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody Light Novel

Death March khổng lồ the Parallel World Rhapsody (デスマーチからはじまる異世界狂想曲), the typical Naro novel, is one of the most read light novels on Shosetsuka ni Naro in the recent years.

A 29 years oldgaming programmer named Ichiro Suzuki works too hard & has a nap in the office. He wakes up to lớn become aware that he is in the of the role-playing game that he is making. 12 episodes of the anime adaption were aired on TV in 2018.

Author:Hiro AinanaIllustrator:shriPublished: 2013-2020Genre: Naro, Isekai

18. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime

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That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Light Novel

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime (転生したらスライムだった件) is a popular ongoing Naro & Isekai light novel with the unique theme.

Main characters are reborn in the different fictional world as a human, but the protagonist ofThat Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime isReincarnatedas a slime named Rimuru. The strange slime’s adventure is also depicted in the anime adaption broadcasted from 2018.

Author: FuseIllustrator:Mitz VahPublished: from 2014Genre:Naro, Isekai

17. Classroom of the Elite

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Classroom of the Elite Light Novel

Classroom of the Elite (ようこそ実力至上主義の教室へ), published from 2015, is one of the hottest school-themed light novels.

It focuses on everyday life of the highest-level high school và there are highly intelligent students in the school including the protagonist Kiyotaka Ayanokoji. Each class fights with others with a variety of mind games. The following story, which started from 2020, begins afterKiyotaka và his classmates go khổng lồ the second grade.

Author:Shogo KinugasaIllustrator:Shunsaku TomosePublished: from 2015Genre: School, Thriller

16. Is It Wrong to lớn Try to lớn Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?

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Is It Wrong lớn Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Light Novel

Is It Wrong to lớn Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (ダンジョンに出会いを求めるのは間違っているだろうか), which was uploaded on the user-publishing website Arcadia, has been published since 2013.

The setting is the fantasy world Orario where there are lots of underground labyrinth known as Dungeon. The main character Bell visits Dungeons to lớn live from day khổng lồ day and get stronger, and then he falls in love with thepowerful swordswoman Ais.

Author:Fujino OmoriIllustrator:Suzuhito YasudaPublished: from 2013Genre: Fantasy

15. The Irregular at Magic High School

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The Irregular at Magic High School Light Novel

The Irregular at Magic High School (魔法科高校の劣等生) was first released on the Shosetsuka ni Naro trang web in 2008 & the light novel has been published as a paper book since 2011.

The ongoing sci-fi novel has the theme of magic in the fictional Japan. The story centers on the two students in First High School: the brother Tatsuya and his little sister Miyuki.

Author:Tsutomu SatoIllustrator:Kana IshidaPublished: from 2008Genre: Naro, Action, Science Fiction

14. My Youth thắm thiết Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected

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My Youth lãng mạn Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected Light Novel

My Youth thắm thiết Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected (やはり俺の青春ラブコメはまちがっている。), which is also known asMy Teen thắm thiết Comedy SNAFU, is the romance light novel published from 2011 and completed with the vol.14 (and 3 short books) in 2019.

It depicts the high school life of the pessimistic boy Hachiman Hikigaya và his school service club members including the heroine Yukino Yukinoshita. The final season of its anime adaption is being released in 2020.

Author:Wataru WatariIllustrator:Ponkan8Published: 2011-2019Genre: Slice of life, Romance

13. Zaregoto Series

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Decapitation: Kubikiri Cycle Light Novel

Zaregoto Series (戯言シリーズ) is one of the most popular light novel series written by Nisio Isin. The first title of the series isDecapitation: Kubikiri Cycle (クビキリサイクル 青色サヴァンと戯言遣い) published in 2002 & all 9 volumes were released by 2005.

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The main character “I” & his friend Timo Kunagiza meet a variety of quality characters and get involved in lots of incidents. The spin-off seriesNingen Series with 7 volumes và Saikyo Series with 4 volumes are also related to lớn the main series.

Author:Nisio IsinIllustrator:TakePublished: 2002-2005Genre: Mystery

12. Overlord

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Overlord Light Novel

As one of the most popular Naro light novels,Overlord (オーバーロード) should be picked out. It was published at first on the websites Arcadia and Shosetsuka ni Naro from 2012. Momonga, the player ofVRMMORPG(Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) namedYGGDRASIL, finds out he is transported to lớn the different world fromYGGDRASIL as the game character called Ainz Ooal Gown.

Author:Kugane MaruyamaIllustrator:so-binPublished: from 2012Genre: Naro, Isekai

11. The Saga of Tanya the Evil

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The Saga of Tanya the Evil Light Novel

The Saga of Tanya the Evil (幼女戦記), a quality fantasy light novel, started its publication on the trang web Arcadia in 2011 và as a physical book in 2013. The setting ofThe Saga of Tanya the Evil is inspired by the World Wars in Europe. A salaried worker is sent to lớn another world in the past as a little girl namedTanya von Degurechaff. Theyoung, blonde girl survives in the world as a member of the military. The light novel has been adapted into manga, anime and movies as well as other popular novels.

Author:Carlo ZenIllustrator:Shinobu ShinotsukiPublished: from 2011Genre: Fantasy

10. Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!

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Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World! Light Novel

Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World! (この素晴らしい世界に祝福を!) was released in 2013 after it had got popular among users in the trang web Shosetsuka ni Naro, & the story just came khổng lồ the kết thúc in May, 2020.

The Isekai comedy light novel, which can be also looked on as the Naro genre, features the 4 main characters: Kazuma, Aqua, Darkness và Megumin. Kazuma, who dies in an accident when he is a high schooler, is sent khổng lồ the fantasy world with the goddess Aqua.

Author:Natsume AkatsukiIllustrator:Kurone MishimaPublished: 2012-2020Genre: Isekai, Comedy

9. Toradora!

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Toradora! Light Novel

As one of the most read light novels in the 2000s,Toradora! (とらドラ!) is known especially in Japan. The slice-of-life light novel consists of 1o volumes & 3 spin-offs published between 2006 & 2009.

In the story, everyday và romance of the high schoolers Ryuji, Taiga and their friends with comedy. On the other hand, they have lots of problems in their lives such as family problems of the heroine Taiga.

Author: Yuyuko TakemiyaIllustrator: YasuPublished: 2006-2009Genre: Slice of life, Romance

8. Kino’s Journey -the Beautiful World-

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Kino’s Journey -the Beautiful World- Light Novel

Kino’s Journey -the Beautiful World- (キノの旅 -the Beautiful World-), one of the longest modern light novel series, has been published with 22 volumes since 2000.

The adventure novel focuses on ateen girl named Kino who travels around the world witha talking motorcycle named Hermes. She visits a variety of fictional counties that have quality customs & social systems. Each episode stands alone, which has a kind ofallegoricalness. Two seasons of the anime adaption have been released.

Author:Keiichi SigsawaIllustrator:Kohaku KuroboshiPublished: from 2000Genre: Adventure, Fantasy

7. No trò chơi No Life

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No trò chơi No Life Light Novel

No trò chơi No Life (ノーゲーム・ノーライフ) is a famous ongoing fantasy light novel and anime series.Remarkably, the same person, whose name is Yu Kamiya, both writes the story & illustrates the characters on the cover.

It follows 18-year-old boy named Sora & his 11 years old sister-in-law named Shiro, who are undefeated gamers with high intelligence. They are transported khổng lồ Isekai (another world) and fight various unique games there.

Author:Yu KamiyaIllustrator:Yu KamiyaPublished: from 2012Genre: Fantasy, Isekai

6. Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

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Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Light Novel

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai (青春ブタ野郎はバニーガール先輩の夢を見ない), which is also known asSeishun Buta Yaro Series, is the first title of the recent popular light novel series published from 2014. In the story, lots of strange supernatural events happen around the main characterSakuta & people around him including his family và classmates. Those things are often caused by theirpsychological problems.

If you enjoy this light novel or other Japanese pop culture, you need khổng lồ know the word Senpai, which means a senior especially in schools và other communities. In this case, the main heroine Mai is the Senpai (one grade ahead) for Sakuta. A manga adaption has been published since năm nhâm thìn and the first season of the anime adaption was released in 2018.

Author:Hajime KamoshidaIllustrator:Keiji MizoguchiPublished: from 2014Genre: Fantasy, Slice of life

5. Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-

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Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- Light Novel

Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- (Re:ゼロから始める異世界生活), which is abbreviated khổng lồ Re:ZERO, is one of the most popular Isekai light novels of all time. Its online publishing started on Shosetsuka ni Naro in 2012 and over 30 volumes of light novels have been published since 2014.

Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World- is phối in the parallel world where the main character Subaru Natsuki is sent for any reason. He is transported khổng lồ another world but is not granted any powerful ability while a main character of many Isekai light novels gets something special.

However, there is the one extraordinary thing he can experience in the world: Shinimodori (“Return by Death”). He goes back in time to lớn the past in the living state, which is triggered by his death. The story follows him and his meeting various quality characters such as the heroine Emilia và thetwin maids Ram and Rem.

Author:Tappei NagatsukiIllustrator:Shinichiro OtsukaPublished: from 2012Genre: Dark fantasy, Isekai, Naro

4. A Certain Magical Index

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A Certain Magical Index Light Novel

The longest and most popular light novel A Certain Magical Index (とある魔術の禁書目録) is categorized as kích hoạt and fantasy. It consists of three titles so far: the firstA Certain Magical Index published between 2004 and 2010, the second New Testament: A Certain Magical Index published between 2011 and 2019 and the thirdGenesis Testament: A Certain Magical Index started from 2020. The number of the total series volume reaches 50.

The setting is the high-tech town in the fictional Tokyo where supernatural power và magic are a reality. There are 2 main groups in the world:Espersbased on science andSorcerersbased on magic. A Certain Magical Index focuses on the main character Toma Kamijo who belongs lớn the side of Espers & the main heroine Index on the side of Sorcerers. In addition to a variety of attractive characters, powerful battle scenes of Toma are one of the highlights in the light novel.

The spin-offsA Certain Scientific Railgun (とある科学の超電磁砲) featuringMikoto Misaka andA Certain Scientific Accelerator (とある科学の一方通行) featuringAccelerator are very popular among fans as well.

Author:Kazuma KamachiIllustrator:Kiyotaka HaimuraPublished: from 2004Genre: Fantasy, Action

3.Sword Art Online

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Sword Art Online Light Novel

Sword Art Online (ソードアート・オンライン), abbreviated to SAO, is one of the most famous và popular Japanese light novels all over the world. The fantasy adventure novel, published from 2009, can be divided into 5 main parts:Aincrad, Fairy Dance, Phantom Bullet, Alicization & Unital Ring.

The story mainly proceeds in the virtual reality world.Sword Art Onlineis set in the fictional world 2022 where the advanced VR online trò chơi called Sword Art Online is invented. TheFullDive technology enables players khổng lồ immerse themselves in VRMMORPG (Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), which means theycan feel all senses forfighting, eating, sleeping & so on there.

The story beginswhen the players of SAO are trapped in the trò chơi world as they are unable lớn log out including the main character Kirito & heroine Asuna. The current seasons of anime adaptions are highly rated among the fans of the light novel.

Author:Reki KawaharaIllustrator:abecPublished: from 2009Genre: Adventure, Fantasy

2. Monogatari Series

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Bakemonogartari Light Novel

In terms of quality of contents and popularity, many light novel fans look on Monogatari Series (物語シリーズ) as the best one of all time. Monogatari Series, written by the popular tác giả Nisio Isin, has been top-rated as both a light novel & a normal novel. There are20 titles with 26 volumes & a spin-off (as of 2020) in the series, and a new volume is still released every few years lately.

The popular series begins with Bakemonogartari (化物語) focusing on the high school guy Koyomi Araragi & his girl friends and his sisters. The theme of the novel is anaberrationcalled Kaii in Japanese, which is a sort of an evil spirit. The characters are possessed by the aberrations for any reason, & Koyomi tries lớn help them while he is also possessed by a vampire.

One of the highlights in the light novel is speedy conversations by the characters who have unique personalities. You can enjoy various essences such as battle scenes, human drama, mystery, etc. The three seasons (from Bakemonogatari to lớn Zoku-owarimonogatari) have been adapted into an anime, và fans expects other parts to lớn be made into anime adaptions in the future.

Author:Nisio IsinIllustrator: VofanPublished: from 2006Genre: Fantasy

1. Haruhi Suzumiya Series

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The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Light Novel

Haruhi Suzumiya Series (涼宮ハルヒシリーズ), which is also known for the first titleThe Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱), started its publication from 2003. It’s a matter of course thatHaruhi Suzumiya Series is ranked 1st in the best light novel các mục since it has played a large role in the light novel industry. It is also not too much to say that light novels could be much less popular without the legendary series.

The story centers on the main character Haruhi Suzumiya và the other members ofSOS Brigade, which is a high school club. They are aliens coming from other planets or the future except the human being named Kyon. It’s interesting that they enjoy an ordinary school life while supernatural phenomena interfere in their lives, which happen due khổng lồ the unconscious force of Haruhi.

The fans were surprised by a quality method of light novels: “Time Loop” meaning characters go back in time lớn the same past point repeatedly. In the Endless Eight part, Haruhi with the SOS Brigade members experience the same two weeks (from 17th to lớn 31st August) for over 15000 times.

Of course, an anime adaption, consisting of 2 seasons, has been popular among fans of the original light novel và anime lovers.

Author:Nagaru TanigawaIllustrator:Noizi ItoPublished: from 2003Genre: Fantasy, Slice of life

Unlimited Light Novels

One of the most popular light novel publishing company Kadokawa offers all-you-can-read deals! You can enjoy reading unlimited light novels and manga published by Kadokawa. The website here is in Japanese, however, Google Translate can easily help you khổng lồ read it in English! Just click the right mouse button or tap the menu button on your smartphone to use the translation function! >> check more details about the light novels unlimited service!

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