With no clear definition of the best light novels, a light novel can be positioned as Japanese literature that is usually not more than 50000 words long and is mostly aimed to be read by teenagers or young adults. Most of these books usually contain illustrations in manga or anime style published in the A6 size. These novels have been a source of anime since the 1990s, and because of their popularity, the majority of the best light novels have been translated into various languages to allow convenience for diverse readers.

Some of the popular anime series are usually adapted from the best light novels. Are you interested in reading some of the best light novels and don't know where to start? We have listed some of the best light novels below, which you can start reading as soon as you get yourself a copy.

1. Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online 1: Aincrad (light novel)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Kawahara, Reki (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 218 Pages - 05/30/2017 (Publication Date) - Yen On (Publisher)

Sword Art Online light novel is among the most popular Japanese light novels that are a fantasy adventure novel published from the year 2009. The light novel can be divided into five parts: Fairy Dance, Alicization, Unital Ring, Aincrad, and Phantom Bullet.

The story is mainly in the virtual reality world in 2022, where the Sword Art Online game is invented, and with full drive technology, players can fully immerse themselves in the game, feeling all senses like sleeping, eating, and fighting. The light novel starts when the Sword Art players are trapped in the fantasy world and cannot log out, including Kirito and heroine Asuna.

2. Attack On Titan: Lost Girls

Attack on Titan: Lost Girls
  • Seko, Hiroshi (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages - 06/28/2016 (Publication Date) - Vertical (Publisher)

This light novel is one of the widely praised anime and manga series in the last decade and is written by Hiroshi Seko, who also worked as a scriptwriter for its anime.

The light novel storyline comprises two female characters, Mikasa, and her relationship with Eren that gets lost in the cruel world. It features a vision in the alternate universe where Mikasa's parents were not murdered, and the light novel tells of their interaction during the training and the reconnaissance mission.

3. Monogatari Series

  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • NISIOISIN, Illustrated by VOFAN (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 225 Pages - VERTICAL (Publisher)

Monogatari anime is a popular series adapted from this particular light novel, and it is among the top light novels you can find. The novel is among the top-rated, which gives a touch of supernatural phenomena and Japanese myths, and is written by the famous author Nisio Isin. It comprises 20 titles with 27 volumes, with a new volume being released after a few years.

The light novel story is about a high school student, Koyomi Araragi, a recently transformed vampire and seeks to help others with supernatural problems. It contains various essences such as human drama, mystery, and battle scenes. The light novel has adapted the first three seasons into anime, and fans are looking forward to the other parts also becoming anime adaptations.

4. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (light novel) (The Haruhi Suzumiya Series Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Tanigawa, Nagaru (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 243 Pages - 09/04/2012 (Publication Date) - Yen On (Publisher)

This light novel has to be on popular light novels because of its role in the light novel industry, and light novels wouldn't be as popular without this series. The light novel is a slice of life and fantasy genre with Nagaru Tanigawa as the author and was published in 2003.

The storyline is about Haruhi Suzumiya and other members of a high school club, the SOS Brigade, and they are aliens from the future or other planets except the human being called Kyon. The main characters experience a time loop where they go to the same two weeks over 15000 times.

5. The Empty Box & Zeroth Maria

The Empty Box and Zeroth Maria, Vol. 1 (light novel) (The Empty Box and Zeroth Maria, 1)
  • Mikage, Eiji (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 208 Pages - 10/31/2017 (Publication Date) - Yen On (Publisher)

The Empty Box & Zeroth Maria was published in 2009 with Tetsuo and 415, and it has seven volumes. The light novel story is of a student Kazuki Hoshino who wants to have a normal life, but a transfer student Aya Otonashi accuses him of a crime. However, Kazuki has no memory, and the light novel will take you through an adventure filled with suspense and thrill.

6. Goblin Slayer

Goblin Slayer, Vol. 1 (light novel) (Goblin Slayer (Light Novel), 1)
  • Kagyu, Kumo (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 12/20/2016 (Publication Date) - Yen On (Publisher)

Goblin Slayer is a fantasy light novel originally released on a Japanese textboard, and the light novel format was published in 2016. The light novel features a character who hunts goblins, and it has been popularized thanks to the manga and anime adaptations. Goblin Slayer was published in 2016 by author Kumo Kagyu and is of dark fantasy and Adventure genres.

7. Spice and Wolf

Spice and Wolf, Vol. 1 (light novel)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Hasekura, Isuna (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages - 12/13/2016 (Publication Date) - Yen On (Publisher)

Spice and Wolf's light novel is a popular anime series with adventures and banter of traveling merchant Kraft Lawrence and pagan wolf goddess Holo. The story focuses on the two characters where Kraft Lawrence experiences various incidents during his trip with the wolf-like Holo, who resembles a human-wolf hybrid. The genre is Science Fiction, Naro, and Action, and it was published in 2008 with Tsutomu Sato as the author.

8. The Irregular at Magic High School

The Irregular at Magic High School, Vol. 1 (light novel): Enrollment Arc, Part I
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Sato, Tsutomu (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 198 Pages - 10/31/2017 (Publication Date) - Yen On (Publisher)

The Magic High School light novel is of magic theme in fictional Japan, and the story is centered on two characters, Tatsuya and his little sister Miyuki, who are students in First High School. The genre included Science Fiction, Naro, and Action and was published in 2008 by Tsutomu Sato. The light novel has a formal tone has gives the writing an authentic feel and experience of the Japanese setting.

9. A Certain Magical Index

A Certain Magical Index, Vol. 1 (light novel)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Kamachi, Kazuma (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 215 Pages - 02/23/2016 (Publication Date) - Yen On (Publisher)

This is among the most popular and longest novels of an action and fantasy world genre and was published in 2004 with Kazuma Kamachi. The background is in a high-tech town setting in fictional Tokyo, where supernatural adventures in magic and power are a reality.

The light novel's main character is Toma Kamijo, the main hero on the evil side and the Espers side. The light novel is among the top ones for its powerful battle scenes and attractive characters. They have spinoffs like A Certain Scientific Railgun and A Certain Scientific Accelerator, which get brand new fans every day.

10. Zaregoto Series

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Zaregoto Series is a light novel under the mystery genre, and it was written by Nisio Isin and was published between 2002 and 2005. The light novel story is about an unnamed protagonist and the mysteries and murders he encounters as he tries to stay out of the story but always ends up in the middle of everything. Some spin-offs of this main series include Ningen Series and Saikyou Series.

11. Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl- Senpai

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai (light novel) (Rascal Does Not Dream (light novel) Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Kamoshida, Hajime (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 219 Pages - 04/28/2020 (Publication Date) - Yen On (Publisher)

Rascal Does Not Dream light novel is a Slice of life and fantasy genre written by Hajime Kamoshida in 2014. The light novel storyline features many strange supernatural events around the main character Sakuta and the people around him, including his classmates and family. The light novel has had a Manga adaption from 2016 and has the first season of anime adaptation released in 2018.

12. Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest

Arifureta: From Commonplace to World's Strongest (Light Novel) Vol. 1
  • Shirakome, Ryo (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 420 Pages - 02/06/2018 (Publication Date) - Airship (Publisher)

Arifureta is a light novel with a story of a 17-year-old Hajime Nagumo where he and his classmates get summoned into a fantasy world where they are required to save humankind from extinction. The main character in the light novel Hajime is the dark hero of this story, and just as he thinks that this is his heaven, it turns to be his biggest nightmare. It is among the best novels published in paper books in 2015 in Japan.

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

Konosuba: God's Blessing on This Wonderful World!, Vol. 1 (light novel): Oh! My Useless Goddess! (Konosuba (light novel))
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Akatsuki, Natsume (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 169 Pages - 02/21/2017 (Publication Date) - Yen On (Publisher)

Konosuba's light novel, published between 2012 and 2020, focuses on a young boy, Kazuma Sato, living in Japan who opens his eyes one day and is given a chance to be reborn in another world. When Kazuma is reborn in another world full of evil and violence, his happy life ends. The light novel of Isekai and Comedy genre can be in the Naro genre because it has the four main characters Kazuma, Darkness, Megumin, and Aqua.

14. Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World

Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-, Vol. 1 (light novel)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Nagatsuki, Tappei (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 233 Pages - 07/19/2016 (Publication Date) - Yen On (Publisher)

This is among the popular light novels in the light novel industry that started publication in 2012. They are of the dark fantasy, Isekai, and Naro genre by Tappei Nagatsuki. The light novel story follows the main character Subaru Natsuki who goes back to the past and is triggered by his death. The season follows him and meets other unique characters such as heroine Emilia and the twin maids Ram and Rem.

15. The Rising of the Shield Hero

The Rising of the Shield Hero Volume 01
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Yusagi, Aneko (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 278 Pages - 12/01/2020 (Publication Date) - One Peace Books (Publisher)

The light novel follows a university student called Naofumi Iwatani who is transported to the fantasy world and is allocated a role as the Shield Hero. The Hero will fight enemies using the defensive shield. This is the best light novel for anyone interested in an action pack fantasy with the adventure, Isekai, and Naro genres.

16. Kino’s Journey -the Beautiful World

Kino's Journey Vol. 1
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Shiomiya, Iruka (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 182 Pages - 03/05/2019 (Publication Date) - Vertical. (Publisher)

Kino’s Journey is a light novel among the longest modern novels by Keiichi Sigsawa published since 2000 as has around 22 volumes since. The light novel story is focused on a teen girl, Kino, who travels the world with a talking motorcycle called Hermes. The anime adaption is up to the second season, and it has been translated into German, Chinese, Korean, and Thai.

17. The Saga of Tanya the Evil

The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 1 (light novel): Deus lo Vult
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Zen, Carlo (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 319 Pages - 12/19/2017 (Publication Date) - Yen On (Publisher)

The European World wars inspire the setting of this light novel, and it is a unique fantasy novel from Carlo Zen that was published in 2011. The storyline is about a salaried worker in Japan sent to another world in the past in a little girl known as Tanya von Degurechaff. The young orphan girl will survive in the world as a military member, and the focus is her struggles to survive in the present world.

18. My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong- As I Expected

My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected, Vol. 1 (light novel)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Watari, Wataru (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 246 Pages - 06/25/2019 (Publication Date) - Yen On (Publisher)

The light novel, also known as My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, is of a life of life and romance genre, and it was published in 2011 with the final season in 2019. The romantic light novel follows the high school life of a pessimistic boy Hachiman Hikigaya and his school service club members, and the light novels released their anime adaption in 2020.

19. Reincarnated As A Sword

Reincarnated as a Sword (Light Novel) Vol. 7
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Tanaka, Yuu (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 215 Pages - 10/08/2020 (Publication Date) - Seven Seas Entertainment (Publisher)

The light novel tells of when Teacher and Fran board the ship and carry Beast King’s revelations without knowing they would go through a series of adventures when they enter the sea.

20. Suppose A Kid From The Last Dungeon Boonies Moved To A Started Town

Suppose a Kid from the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town, Vol. 1 (light novel) (Suppose a Kid from the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town (light novel))
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Satou, Toshio (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 214 Pages - 11/05/2019 (Publication Date) - Yen On (Publisher)

The light novel story follows Lloyd, who always dreamed of serving his country, but everyone thinks of him as weak. To everyone's surprise, in the light novel, the town is blessed with powers, including Lloyd, making him an exceptional person.

21. Classroom of the Elite

Classroom of the Elite (Light Novel) Vol. 1
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Kinugasa, Syougo (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 317 Pages - 02/07/2019 (Publication Date) - Seven Seas Entertainment (Publisher)

This is one of the hottest school-based light novels, and it focuses on the everyday life of highly intelligent students, including the protagonist Kiyotaka Ayanokoji. The light novel by Shogo Kinugasa follows a story that began in 2020 after Kiyotaka and his classmates go to second grade.

22. Katanagatari

  • Hardcover Book
  • NISIOISIN (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 11/27/2018 (Publication Date) - Vertical (Publisher)

The light novel is another written by the famous Japanese writer Nisio Isin, and the story is set in fictional Japan during the Edo period. The light novel is of action and historical genre and features protagonist Shichika Yasuri who fights enemies and owners of the twelve legendary swords.

23. Failure Frame

Failure Frame: I Became the Strongest and Annihilated Everything With Low-Level Spells (Light Novel) Vol. 1
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Shinozaki, Kaoru (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 273 Pages - 12/10/2020 (Publication Date) - Seven Seas Entertainment (Publisher)

This is a popular light novel among anime fans, and the storyline is of Mimori Touka and his classmates, who the world's resident goddess summons to serve as heroes. In the light novel, the goddess then sends Mimori to a dungeon, and the rest of this story follows Mimori trying to survive.

24. Overlord

Overlord, Vol. 1 (light novel): The Undead King
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Maruyama, Kugane (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 246 Pages - 05/24/2016 (Publication Date) - Yen On (Publisher)

Overlord is one of the most popular Naro novels by author Kugane Maruyama and was published in 2012. The story is of a player, Momonga, who discovers that he has been transported to a different world.

25. Toradora!

Toradora! (Light Novel) Vol. 1
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Takemiya, Yuyuko (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 165 Pages - 05/08/2018 (Publication Date) - Seven Seas Entertainment (Publisher)

As one of the most popular and read light novels in Japan, the light novel slice of life and romance novel comprises ten volumes and three spin-offs. The light novel by Yuyuko Takemiya tells the story of high schoolers Ryuji, Taiga, and their friends with comedy.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Best Light Novels

1. What is an anime adaptation?

Anime adaptations are when an anime is produced based on a light novel or manga series, and we have listed some of the top light novels that have been produced for animes such as Monogatari.

2. What is the difference between a novel and a light novel?

A light novel is an easy-to-read book with around 100 pages with short paragraphs and is written using easy vocabulary that young adults and teenagers can easily understand. A novel is different because it comprises much fictional literature and is over the 50000 words range.

About the Author Tom Brewer

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