If you like reading novels and are also an otaku with a passionate love for anime and manga, you must check out all the best light novels that are must-read!
Since many light novels were later adapted into manga and live animation, anime became the gateway that introduced Japanese light novels to the world.
Eventually, the light novels that never got an anime or manga adaptation also became popular!
However, light novels and anime differ significantly, with light novels containing many intricate details and explicit discussions otherwise omitted from their anime counterparts for ethical or viewership concerns.
That said, the LN fanbase used to be somewhat limited as these light novels were available only in paperback or at specific subscription sites. But today, the rise in reliable digital services allows one to read light novels as their subsequent chapters are released.
Moreover, previously published light novels also are getting translated into English and other languages.
As a result, several anime fans are continuously opting to read light novels to either refresh their minds or seek spoilers of their favorite shows. But, there seems to be an infinite number of exciting light novels with genres ranging from romantic-comedy to suspense and sheer horror.
So, if you are wondering which light novel to read first, we are here to help with a massive list of some of the best light novel recommendations to pick from!
Best Light Novels To Read in 2023
1. Monogatari Series by NISIOISIN
The story begins when a third-year high school student, Koyomi Araragi, encounters a blonde girl, Shinobu, who turns him into a vampire.
However, he returns to an almost-human life with the help of Meme Oshino, a strange middle-aged man and self-proclaimed aberration specialist. Still, Araragi feels that nothing will ever be normal again.
Amid his confused feelings, he stops a classmate from falling down a flight of stairs. But her body feels lighter than a feather. And so, the realization dawns that he is neither the only odd creature nor the only one struggling.
He takes her to Meme, who cures her, only for her to develop deep feelings for Araragi. As the series progresses, several female characters with unique ambitions and supernatural afflictions are introduced.
Though the anime adaptation of Monogatari got infamous for its inappropriate fan-service moments, the novel series became famous only because of its profound dialogues and how each moment reframes the earlier perception of a character rather than insensitively shattering it.
2. Classroom of the Elite by Syougo Kinugasa & Tomoseshunsaku
In the distant future, the Japanese Government has built Advanced Nurturing High School that mimics real-life experiences, allowing its students unprecedented autonomy and freedom.
The school is considered top-ranked because of 100% college entrance and employment stats. Despite all this, the school is anything but ideal.
The school has established a hierarchy based on a merit system. So, each class has four sections, with ‘A’ containing the best students and ‘D’ the worst.
One genius, Kiyotaka Ayanokoji, intentionally rigs his exams to score low and not stand out. Eventually, he gets placed in Class D. But his life takes a turn when he meets Suzune Horikita, a reclusive girl who firmly believes she was mistakenly put in Class D.
As Kiyotaka decides to help Suzune, they are joined by Kikyou Kushida, a seemingly hyperactive class idol who only wishes to make more friends.
While the anime adaptation showed characters deviating from their supposed persona, the novel does beautiful justice to each and every reaction. Besides, the novel is written in a satirical manner to accentuate how unequal education can shape a person’s life.
3. Spice and Wolf by Isuna Hasekura & Ju Ayakura
Holo, the Wolf diety, was initially revered by the small-town people of Pasloe as she blessed them with annual harvests. However, as the people became more self-sufficient, Holo was forsaken as a fickle deity who needed sacrifices for even the small fields.
Heartbroken, Holo decided to leave after 600 years of staying in a single town.
But leaving the town wasn’t an easy task as she took the form of a teenager with wolf ears and a tail, still drawing the attention of many. Consequently, she hides in the wagon of a traveling merchant, Kraft Lawrence, whose only goal in life appears to be building a shop.
On recognizing Holo’s wisdom in evaluating characters and bargaining, Lawrence forms a business partnership on the condition of safely taking her to Yoitsu, her original home.
But as they travel, Holo’s aura captivates several others, but not all of them have good intentions. Amid this, Lawrence finds his ambitions morphing with him seeking more than just a shop.
4. Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World! by Natsume Akatsuki
Kazuma Satou, a high school recluse, dies an unexpected but comical death.
As he wakes up in the afterlife, he is greeted by a beautiful but obnoxious goddess, Aqua, who cannot hold herself from laughing at the circumstances of his death. The embarrassment makes him lose his ability to think logically.
And so, when he is offered to either move to heaven or get reincarnated in a game-like fantasy universe, he chooses the latter to redeem himself.
Immediately, Kazuma is tasked to defeat the demon lord and is offered a weapon/item of choice that he can take along to this new world. Kazuma defies all expectations and chooses to take the Goddess Aqua as his companion.
But things turn humorous when Kazuma realizes that Aqua has no talents or powers. Furthermore, the gaming universe was still a living place; now, they needed money to buy food and pay taxes.
However, there is no end to their misery, as they can only leave this place after defeating the demon lord.
5. Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation by Rifujin na Magonote & Shirotaka
Starved for affection and bullied brutally, a 34-year-old man gets evicted from his parental home because he didn’t even attend their funeral. Now homeless, the NEET contemplates that his life has been pointless.
To do at least one good thing in a lifetime, he saves a group of teenagers from a swerving truck and dies in the process. Later he gets reborn as a baby named Rudeus Greyrat but in a universe of magic and swordplay.
But this time, he resolves to make the most of his life.
Using wisdom from his past life, the boy shows tremendous skills in magic and swordplay. This leads him to become the student of the famous Demon Magician, Roxy Migurdia.
However, restarting from a traumatic past does require much more than mere ambition. And so, Rudeus also struggles with embracing something previously unimaginable – a chance at sincere love.
6. 86-EIGHTY SIX by Asato Asato & Shirabii
Wars fought for even noble causes result in helplessness, as nothing can bring back the dead. However, there are certain crimes worse than war itself.
This seems to be the case with the Republic of San Magnolia, which has declared that the ongoing war with the Giadian Empire has resulted in no casualties. Consequently, 85 of its sectors with silver-haired Alba ethnicity are living under a false sense of security.
But the price of peace has come at the cost of Sector 86 – a place choking with violent crimes and anarchy as its people were forced to fight the war on behalf of the entire San Magnolia.
Amid all this, a Spearhead Squadron, Shinei Nouzen, aka “the Reaper,” who has continuously survived several missions, seeks recognition for his fallen fellows. But his efforts only become significant when he meets Vladilena Milizé, a woman fighting for the equal rights of 86.
As the two embark on a journey of justice and recognition, they end up stumbling across a far sinister plot.
7. Rascal Does Not Dream Series by Hajime Kamoshida
Comprising 11 volumes, this light novel series attracted much-deserved attention only after its anime adaptation was released in 2018. Despite its supernatural events, the series elegantly highlights the struggles faced by teenage girls.
Sakuta Azusagawa, a high school student, discovers a girl in the school library, leisurely walking around in a suggestive bunny suit. However, he is even more astonished to see nobody noticing her except him.
The girl turns out to be Mai Sakurajima, his senior and a former actress on hiatus from her work. As the two interact, Sakuta learns she suffers from ‘the Puberty Syndrome,’ a supposedly mythical disease.
Since Sakuta decides to help cure her, he stumbles across several others suffering the same illness. And so, his sincerity leads him to become the only hope for their revival.
8. The Irregular at Magic High School by Tsutomu Sato
World War 3 continued for 20 years, reducing the world population to 3 billion. While countries lost their unique status, Japan retained it because its powerful Sorcerers employed technology to enhance their impact.
As the number of Magicians swindled, they were treated as rare commodities and sent to special schools to polish their skills.
But these schools had separate classes with high-scoring magicians selected as ‘Blooms’ and sent for the primary courses. Meanwhile, low-scoring magicians were called the ‘Weeds’ and enrolled in secondary courses.
And so when the two siblings from the prestigious Shiba dynasty joined high school, they ended up in different courses. Miyuki, excelling in all practical exams, became a Bloom and the rightful heir to Shiba Household.
Meanwhile, Tatsuya surpassed everyone in theoretical knowledge, still becoming a Weed with his apparent lack of practical magic. However, as the series progresses, Tatsuya shows a unique blend of technology and magic, eventually becoming an irregular part of Japan’s scoring system.
9. I’m in Love with the Villainess by Inori & Hanagata
An ordinary office worker, Oohashi Rei, works herself to death and reincarnates as Rae Taylor, the heroine of her favorite Otome game, “Revolution.”
Now, she is a beautiful high school student at an exclusive magic academy and naturally draws the attention of three plausible suitors – the Princes of the game.
But if anything, their pursuit gets her annoyed.
It so happens that Rei is a homosexual who only finds women attractive. Things take a hilarious turn when Rei falls for her supposed rival and villain, Claire Francois, who is indeed a sight to behold with her golden ringlets and icy blue eyes.
As Rei flirts with Claire, the latter finds herself more confused than ever, with no idea how to respond to such showering affection.
Besides, she was designed to bully the heroine, and now she is the supposed suitor. But can their budding romance stand the test of time and the game, as Claire was supposed to be a straight woman stopping the heroine from achieving her goals?
10. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime by FUSE
An average corporate worker, Satoru Mikami, has no regrets from his thirty-seven years of monotonous life except that he couldn’t score a girlfriend. But even that doesn’t matter, as Satoru dies when he gets randomly stabbed amidst a casual encounter.
Satoru hears a strange voice reciting some unfamiliar commands at the time of his demise.
Later, Satoru gets reincarnated in an alternate dimension, but as a Slime who can shapeshift and mimic the appearance of anything if he devours that thing.
But of all the creatures, Satoru stumbles across “Veldora,” the Storm Dragon, who has been imprisoned for over 300 years for his crime of burning an entire village to ashes. His painful desolation leads Satoru to befriend him and promise to help free him.
And so, Veldora affectionately bestows him with the blessed name “Rimuru Tempest.” Rimuru then engulfs the entire prison by devouring it whole to analyze the prison and free Veldora from it one day.
And then, he is on his way as he learns about the world, the different magical creatures that exist, and what he wants to do with his new and exciting life.
11. Re: ZERO -Starting Life in Another World by Tappei Nagatsuki
When the reclusive teenager, Subaru Natsuki, comes out of the convenience store, he finds himself amid a fantasy woodland. Then, he suddenly gets attacked by a band of robbers, only to be rescued by an ethereal beauty, Emilia, the prospective ruler of the Kingdom of Lugunica.
To return the favor, Subaru tries to help her by searching for her lost insignia. When they do get to their supposed destination, they get killed by some hidden pursuers.
Though the pain of death sends shivers down Subaru’s body, he finds himself amidst a familiar scene with a bag of groceries. Immediately, he gets attacked by the same thugs from before and is saved by Emilia again.
But Emilia has no recollection of their past meeting.
As the series progresses, an eerie realization sets in that Subaru is the only one traversing through time. And so, he is the only one with memories of death and precious moments before that.
12. Overlord by Kugane Maruyama
After its twelve-year run, the servers of the most played MMORPG, “Yggdrasil,” are supposed to shut down. As the game’s final hour approaches, Momonga, the exceptional wizard and the only remaining member of the notorious guild “Ainz Ooal Gown,” awaits the ending.
But as the servers close down, Momonga witnesses the entire world shifting to another land. Though all his gaming functions appear to work perfectly, he cannot log out.
Gradually, a foreboding sense of horror sets in as he learns that even the non-player characters have developed a personality of their own. Sensing the urgency of his situation, Momonga decides to use all his powers to investigate the mystery behind this new universe.
While he isn’t the only one seeking an escape, he may be the only one wanting to stay here forever – perhaps even trapping others with all his authority.
13. The Beginning After The End by TurtleMe
The Beginning After the End started as a light novel series and was later adapted as a manhwa, which is doing relatively well.
However, the storyline is so exhilarating and the illustrations so captivating that it seems unfair not to give the novel its due credit.
The story revolves around King Grey, a man unrivaled in strength, intellect, and administrative abilities. However, like all great leaders, he feels a crippling sense of solitude.
Poisoned to death, Grey gets reborn as Arthur Leywin in the vibrant land of Dicathen, a world filled with magic and mythical creatures. While Arthur climbs the ranks because of his superior abilities, he also grows more compassionate towards his loved ones.
But soon, he realizes that his reincarnation was no coincidence as he finds himself in the center of everything happening in this new magical world.
If you want to read a light novel with a powerful storyline filled with all sorts of emotions, you must pick up this title. There is a reason why this is one of the best light novels of all time!
14. My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected by Wataru Watari
An intelligent but impassive high school student, Hachiman Hikigaya, believes that joyful youth doesn’t exist and it’s merely a facade. Therefore, when tasked with writing an essay on modern society, he mocks everyone in the worst way possible.
But instead of grading him low, his teacher comes up with a unique punishment.
And so, Hachiman is forced to join the Volunteer Service Club, a student body to help anyone working towards their goals.
However, the only other active member is Yukino Yukinoshita, the Ice Queen, an alluring yet pragmatic beauty who believes in helping the less fortunate.
Now, both of these loners are at the forefront of solving the problems of others. But their unique perception of the world may be the tool to assist them. Still, the experience makes them come closer, creating a joyful youth that shouldn’t technically exist.
15. Sword Art Online by Reki Kawahara
In 2022, a genius programmer Akihiko Kayaba developed Sword Art Online (SAO) – a Virtual Reality MMORPG. But the game functions only with “NerveGear” – a helmet-like gadget that works through human senses.
On November 6, about ten thousand gamers logged into the SAO server simultaneously. The game exceeded all expectations with its hundred elaborate floors of Aincrad – the steel castle and SAO’s primary landscape.
However, an eerie sense of urgency sets in when nobody can log out.
Eventually, Akihiko announces that he has trapped everyone’s conscience in the game, with playing and clearing the game as their only choice to leave safely. But Akihiko seems unaware of Kazuto Kirigaya’s presence, a game enthusiast and the beta tester for SAO.
Since Kazuto knows secrets otherwise unknown to other players, he becomes the only hope and the cheater in that game. Yet, he chooses to play alone until he meets a mysterious girl.
16. The Eminence in Shadow by Daisuke Aizawa & Touzai
Though most seek fame and recognition, Cid Kagenou had an even bigger vision. He wanted to walk in the daylight as part of the mob but pull the strings as a mastermind of significant events, essentially becoming a “Shadow Broker.” Therefore, he trained every night, but his dreams couldn’t come true.
However, one night he does find magical lights, which later turn out to be the two headlights of a vehicle that hit him to his death. Now, reborn in a fantasy universe, Cid still wishes to be the Shadow Broker.
So, when he rescues a damsel in distress, he falsely declares himself the leader of an ancient ‘Organization’ that will crush “the Cult of Diabolos.” The girl believes his lies and swears loyalty to him, becoming the first supporter of his organization, “The Shadow Garden.”
Unbeknownst to Cid, the Cult of Diablos does exist in this universe. And so, his one lie takes him to the forefront of the war against these evil forces.
17. Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest by Ryo Shirakome & Takaya-ki
A 17-year-old teenager, Hajime Nagumo, often gets bullied by his classmates for getting attention from the class idol. But their atrocities advance to a new level when they all get summoned to Tortus, an alternate reality.
Now, equipped with only a minor alchemy ability, Hajime stands no chance against his class bullies, who gained superhuman combat skills.
Despite his past experiences, Hajime generously accepts their invitation to explore the Great Orcus Labyrinth, which turns out to be a ploy to get rid of him. And so, one of them betrays him by throwing him into the forbidden depths of the dungeon.
Barely surviving the fall, Hajime uses his alchemy skills to live another day. However, the ‘dungeon is dark and full of terrors.’ Therefore, Hajime must choose to die or lose a part of his humanity to return from his supposed grave.
18. Ascendance of a Bookworm by Miya Kazuki & You Shiina
An 18-year-old bookworm, Urano Motosu, dies after being crushed by the weight of her books. But her last wish was to be reincarnated so she could do what she loved the most, which is read more books.
Her wish is fulfilled when she is reborn, but she finds herself in a world where books are exclusive to nobility. So, as a 5-year-old meek child, Urano must find a way to read more books.
But instead of waiting for the nobility to share their books generously, Urano decides to create books herself. However, her journey is difficult as she must first find the means to publish books, as the printing press doesn’t even exist in this new world.
With its creative plot, the story is like a breath of fresh air among the typical isekai narratives. It gracefully outlines the relationship between the impoverished and the affluent.
And so, even with its fictitious accounts, the protagonist goes through real-life struggles.
19. Goblin Slayer by Kumo Kagyu
The plot seems deceptively straightforward as it revolves around a man whose only goal in life is to eradicate goblins. His brutality in butchering goblins has earned him the infamous yet befitting title – the “Goblin Slayer.”
Sounds dull? Well, that’s the last word for this series.
You see, the Goblins are cunning creatures with the highest fertility rates. But, despite their ever-increasing numbers, they have always been considered the weakest of monsters, causing everyone to ignore their presence. Things go awry when Goblins start kidnapping human females to breed further.
Amid all this, a 15-year-old priestess sets on her first-ever expedition. But she witnesses her peers getting raped, with her barely surviving because Goblin Slayer intervened in the deed.
But despite her trauma, she decides to join the Goblin Slayer in his quest to eradicate Goblins.
Though its anime adaptation contains crude sexual violence, the novel describes much more cruelty and heinous crimes that may be too triggering for certain readers.
20. The Saga of Tanya the Evil by Carlo Zen
When a disbelieving salaryman gets murdered, he is confronted by a self-proclaimed god who condemns him for lacking ‘Faith.’ However, the atheist still denies the presence of God, calling the deity before him an insignificant “Being X.”
The insult infuriates Being X, who decides to punish the skeptic.
And so, Being X reincarnates the heretic as a little blonde girl named Tanya into a chaotic world that appears to be a mixture of WW1 and WW2. He warns Tanya that if she dies an unnatural death while disbelieving, she will suffer an endless cycle of punishment in Hell.
The idea was to make Tanya suffer so much that she would be forced to call upon Being X for help. However, the atheist won’t have any of the supposed fate.
Instead, Tanya uses all her capacity to climb the military ranks so that she can live without ever getting to fight at the front lines. In doing so, she becomes an efficient military strategist with no regard for life.
Her ruthlessness on the battlefield and evil deeds earn her the title “The Devil of Rhine.” However, there is a limit to Being X’s patience, and he is more cunning than he appears.
21. Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average In The Next Life?! by FUNA & Itsuki Akata
With her exceptional intelligence, Misato Kurihara experienced immense academic pressure to the point that she couldn’t even make a single friend. But her life ended abruptly when she died while saving a young girl.
Later, she is offered a chance to be reborn in another reality which she accepts only after declaring her wish to reincarnate as an ‘average’ person. Unbeknownst to her, the average in this world takes into account the strengths of the strongest and the weakest magical creatures.
And so, she ends up being reincarnated as Adele von Ascham, a noblewoman who is about 6800 times more powerful than an average human.
Furthermore, her new life is anything but ordinary as her father assassinates her grandfather and mother, only to marry another woman. But when she enrolls in the prestigious Eckland Academy, she makes her first-ever friends.
However, her newly made bonds lead her to use her unusual abilities against the royal princess. And now, Adele must live as a fugitive on the run. Only this time, she doesn’t feel as much alone.
22. The Devil Is a Part-Timer by Satoshi Wagahara
Demon Lord Satan wishes to rule the land of Ente Isla and has commanded his Generals to attack its four continents. But at the height of their military campaign, Emilia, the Hero, and her companions intervene and kill off demon generals Malacoda and Adramelech.
Eventually, Satan flees the scene with Alciel, only to land in modern-day Japan through a magical portal. However, this devours them of magic, turning them into almost humans.
Now they must find some livelihood to sustain themselves until they can return. And so, the Devil becomes a part-timer at a fast-food restaurant – Magronald.
But he isn’t the only one here as Emilia followed him to stop him from scheming any more evil schemes. And she isn’t wrong as the Devil has decided to conquer this world too. Only he seeks to do so by becoming the best part-timer so he can climb the corporate ladder.
As hilarious as it sounds, the Devil seems concerned with how well the chips are being cooked and how fresh the burger is rather than how to regain his superpowers.
The novel has the characteristic of making the most common scenarios into silly moments. So if you seek comedic relief, this light novel is just for you.
23. Boogiepop Series by Kouhei Kadono & Kouji Ogata
The urban legend says that a supernatural creature, Boogiepop, can free people of their pain, but it does so by killing them at the peak of their youthful beauty.
And so, when several female students at Shinyo Academy suddenly disappear, the remaining students whisper of Boogiepop’s presence. However, the police officers dismiss this notion by considering it a case of runaway kids.
Meanwhile, Nagi Kirima knows better than to speak of any rumors.
She knows that Boogiebop is very much real and very much present. However, only a select few know that Boogiebop rises only to fight for justice, and he couldn’t be behind such disappearances.
But if Boogiebop is not the cause, who or what is kidnapping those girls?
The novel unravels a series of mysteries happening simultaneously. However, it also shows how a single story may differ depending on its narrator. The words and storylines are crafted with intricate details that it remains a top thriller novel despite two decades of its inception.
24. The Rising of the Shield Hero by Aneko Yusagi
As catastrophic monsters, aka “Waves,” keep disturbing the peace, Melromarc summons its four Cardinal Heroes, who will defend the kingdom in their stead as prophesied. But, these heroes are just ordinary Japanese men who need much training for their missions.
Following the tradition, each Hero was granted one weapon of his identity, i.e., the Spear, the Sword, the Shield, and the Bow. While all heroes were honored legends, people paid little heed to the Shield Hero, Naofumi Iwatani, as his shield was hardly a weapon. His laid-back clumsy personality worsened his situation.
Consequently, none was ready to help him through his training or journey. And so, Naofumi blindly trusted Princess Malty Melromarc, who stood by his side as his only follower.
However, he realizes this one grave mistake only too late.
As schemed, a bewildered and humiliated Naofumi gets wrongfully exiled for sexual assault and theft. While he journeys to seek salvation, he wonders why Malty betrayed him for no apparent reason.
The novel explores how unfounded prejudice can lead one to commit disturbing crimes. It also explores an innocent man’s bitter struggle after being accused of sexual assault.
In his final moments, the world’s greatest assassin suffered from regret because his demise had come from the very organization he had trusted his entire life. However, he ends up gaining the attention of an afterlife deity.
The Goddess offers him another chance at life as Lugh Tuatha De – the heir to a noble assassin family. But in return, Lugh must kill the Hero of his new world right after the man kills off the Demon Lord as prophesied.
Though her reasons are not unfounded, the Hero will turn rogue and bring havoc to their respective world. But that also implies that Lugh must punish the Hero for crimes he would never get to commit. Eventually, the assassin accepts her offer but decides to live this life to the fullest.
The story follows how Lugh settles into his new role and must learn new skills and magic. It also shows domains of Lugh’s life that he couldn’t explore before, including experiencing romantic affection and genuine companionship.
26. So I’m a Spider, So What? by Okina Baba
Though the light novel is written in a first-person narrative, it still gives meticulous details of the ordinary that skillfully paint a realistic image of landscapes, relationships, politics, mythical creatures, and even scenarios.
However, its most remarkable feature is its ability to not deviate from the plotline, with POV changing every chapter.
The story begins when Kumoko and her classmates die in a supernatural explosion. But, miraculously, all of them get reborn into a different world, with a few fortunate ones being born as either royalty or nobility. However, Kumoko ended up having the worst of fates.
And so, her struggle in the new world began the very moment she got reincarnated as a spider hatchling of the weakest kind that lives in the bleak darkness of the most dangerous dungeons, teeming with hostile beasts.
But the only things keeping her alive are her uncanny optimism and human intellect.
27. The Haruhi Suzumiya Series by Nagaru Tanigawa & Noizi Itou
On her first day at North High School, Haruhi Suzumiya – a captivating beauty, declares her weariness with regular life and her obsession with the supernatural phenomenon.
This incites Kyon, a ‘regular high schooler,’ to wonder what she would want instead. It turns out that Haruhi just wishes to have some clubs that actively look for paranormal activity.
Eventually, Kyon suggests she build a club of her own. However, things go awry when Haruhi drags him along and forms a club named “Spreading excitement all Over the World with Haruhi Suzumiya Brigade,” or simply “SOS.”
Kyon, who perceives this club as a mere stupidity, still joins her while renaming the club for the official papers, “Support the student body by Overworking to make the World a better place student Service brigade.”
While he expects nobody to sign up for the club, three members join on the first day. The plot twists as Kyon oversees the three new members while constantly watching Haruhi.
28. Full Metal Panic! by Shouji Gatou & Shikidouji
An anti-terrorist private military organization, Mithril, employs “Whispers,” who are highly qualified individuals with remarkable technical and intuitive knowledge. One such whispered teenager, Sousuke Sagara, is tasked to protect a lively high school girl named Kaname Chidori.
However, he had no previous experience of social life at a high school. So, he sees every trivia as either a threat or a military emergency. This behavior leads his classmates to nickname him “Military Maniac.”
Meanwhile, the only one who sees him struggling is Chidori, who acknowledges his care for her. However, she doesn’t understand why he is so into her safety. But the comedy of errors begins when everyone mistakes them as a couple.
Amid all this, even Sousuke questions why terrorists are after Chidori. But the series take plot twists as Chidori’s dark secret comes to light.
29. Welcome to Japan, Ms. Elf! by Makishima Suzuki & Yappen
Despite being classified as an isekai, nobody dies in this light novel and gets reincarnated in another world. In fact, there seems to be no permanent shift.
Furthermore, the male protagonist is neither too brilliant nor too rash, making him a light novel anomaly as ‘the Moderate Hero.’ Even the female lead is neither too aggressive nor passive, making her a ‘Regular Girl,’ well, to be fair, as regular as a female elf can get.
The story revolves around Kazuhiro Kitase, a guy with a hobby of sleeping and dreaming. Kazuhiro was on a thrilling quest with his female elfish friend in one of his dreams. However, they both get scorched by the dragon’s breath.
He wakes up with tingling, burning sensations and finds a familiar figure lying beside him. It turns out that the female elf was not just a dream. But now, branded together by the dragon fire, she lives and breathes next to him.
30. How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom by Dojyomaru & Fuyuyuki
The story starts as a typical isekai with a random guy who gets transported to another kingdom. Also, he gets attention from several females and is supposed to save the entire kingdom.
However, that’s where the novel shatters all the cliches.
The protagonist, Kazuya Souma, is an aspiring civil servant. And so, he had been preparing to become an administrator. So, when Kazuya is forced to become a King, he knows how to rule. Therefore, it doesn’t appear like some miracle when Kazuya resolves the agricultural crisis within his first month as a ruler.
Also, Kazuya’s combat skills follow a human trajectory of progress as he doesn’t become a legendary swordsman without practice. While several women pay attention to him, they have solid reasons to find him attractive. Besides, Kazuya doesn’t play aloof or pervert but flirts consciously like an adult.
Though this novel is a classic isekai with a refreshed feel, if you are more into breaking stereotypes altogether, the next novel on this list is perfect!
31. Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? by Fujino Omori & Suzuhito Yasuda
To seek excitement in their eternal lives, several gods settled down as ‘mortals’ in the city of Orario. But each God keeps a Familia, a posse of adventurers whose primary duty is to explore the “Dungeon” – an underground labyrinth riddled with monsters and magical crystals.
But each Familia member’s skills are gained, like gaming points and updates. One such adventurer, Bell Cranel, joins Goddess Hestia’s Familia to become a Hero.
Bell’s goal is to become the greatest adventurer in the land, so meeting with the Goddess and joining her Familia was the most natural thing to do. But the Familia is not as big as other Gods’ Familias; it’s just Hestia and Bell.
Going by the title of the light novel, you’d expect the main character to be a pervert whose only goal is to pick up girls, but that can’t be far from the truth. In fact, he is an innocent character who treats everyone with respect, no matter what gender they are or what race they belong to.
Unbeknownst to him, though, several women have been doting on his beauty, even Hestia herself.
32. Toradora! by Yuyuko Takemiya & Yasu
Despite his gentle demeanor, Ryuji Takasu is often misunderstood as a high school delinquent because of his naturally stern features and ‘killer’ eyes.
But his already messy life turns upside down when he encounters Taiga Aisaka, aka “Palmtop Tiger,” a girl with endearing features yet a rough personality.
Though they are neither a couple nor interested in each other, their fates keep intertwining. It so happens that Taiga has a crush on Yusaku Kitamura, Ryuji’s best friend. Meanwhile, Ryuji has a deep affection for Minori Kushieda, Taiga’s best friend.
As the two decide to set each other up with their respective crushes, they spend more time together, eventually becoming close. Consequently, a rumor breaks about the two being a couple.
Despite all its cliches, this light novel series is light-hearted, amusing, and refreshing.
33. The Empty Box and Zeroth Maria by Eiji Mikage
A high school student, Kazuki Hoshino, takes pleasure in the mundane and uneventful daily life. However, his routine changes on March 2 when a gorgeous beauty named Aya Otonashi transfers to his class and solemnly declares war on him.
But her hatred is not as much of a concern as her odd words of choice because she claims that she has transferred schools 13118 times only to ‘break’ him.
That sounds fabricated, yet a promising start for a rom-com light novel. But that’s not it!
The show introduces a unique idea of certain “boxes” with the ability to grant one wish, depending upon a person’s personality and the extent of his beliefs.
And so, the series is a roller coaster ride that jumps from romance and action to slice of life, mystery, thriller, and finally, supernatural. The story shows how our deepest desires can be utterly illogical.
34. Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash by Ao Jyumonji & Eiri Shirai
Though numerous light novels explore a protagonist reincarnated inside a game-like universe, none raises the bar as high as Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash with its impeccable plotline and realistic character development.
It begins when a massive group of teenagers awakens in a fantasy world, barely remembering their names. They have no choice in the matter and segregate into teams that hunt monsters to earn their livelihood.
Haruhiro, a timid thief, becomes part of the weakest party made of only the left-over teenagers. However, they gradually grow into a reliable team under the leadership of Manato, a charismatic priest. However, their struggles take to a new level when Manato sacrifices himself to save the team and leaves Haruhiro as their new commander.
As the group learns to come to terms with Manato’s loss, they find Merry, a priestess with unknown intentions.
35. Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody by Hiro Ainana
A 29-year-old programmer, Suzuki Ichirou, is swamped with work. But his exhaustion leads him to take a nap amid debugging two different MMORPGs. But when Suzuki wakes up, he finds himself in some vaguely familiar landscape.
Somehow, Suzuki got transported inside the mesh of his two games, but as a 15-year-old boy named ‘Satou,’ Suzuki’s beta testing nickname. Before he even grasps the situation, Satou gets attacked by an army of Lizardmen.
This attack triggers him to use ‘Meteor Rain,’ his newly added game feature that destroys the entire army and a nearby deity. Consequently, Satou jumps from level 1 to 310, making him among the most powerful beings in his new world.
Now, he must travel the entire game to find some way to return. However, things are not easy, as his stats make him one of the most sought-after enemies of others playing the game.
36. Kino’s Journey by Keiichi Sigsawa
Kino, a teenage girl, has made the most unusual companion named Hermes, a talking motorcycle. The two adventurers are on a constant journey to explore the entire world.
As a principle, Kino does not stay in one place for more than 3 days and 2 nights in a row, as she believes that this much time is enough to know all the important things of any region. However, the principle comes from her deep fear that staying any longer may cause her to feel affection for that place, eventually making her settle down.
But as she travels, she learns traditions and customs otherwise shunned as morally gray. She sees brutality in its crude form and justice in all its magnificence.
She observes the moral regulations and prohibits commenting on any event or culture. All of it is because she and Hermes live by one code of radical beauty, “The World is not beautiful; therefore, it is.”
37. A Certain Magical Index by Kazuma Kamachi & Kiyotaka Haimura
The series is set in Academy City – a technologically advanced region where supernatural abilities and magic are real. Those who use science to gain powers are called Espers, while those who learn magic through practice are called sorcerers.
Since the two factions often collide based on their sense of superiority, the series presents a unique blend of science and magic, with distinct nuances of action and mystery.
The story revolves around Toma Kamijo – a high school student with a unique ability to negate the powers of other beings using his right hand. But this doesn’t improve his life, as his ability also nullifies his luck. Consequently, Toma lives a cursed life full of mishaps.
However, things change when he discovers a fugitive girl hiding on his balcony. As he rescues her, he doesn’t realize that she, too, maybe an unfortunate event dragging him amid a century-old conflict.
Light novels represent a significant part of Japanese culture and literature. Though these compilations offer little vocabulary or over-complicated characters, they provide a refreshing perception of simple ideas, neat storylines, and beautiful illustrations.
And so, these light novels are sure to entertain their readers.
If you have always wanted to read a light novel but never really figured out where to start, I hope this list helped you with your decision. I would recommend you pick the novel of your favorite manga or anime adaptations because sometimes the anime or manga leave out many significant things that are beautifully explained in light novels.
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