Best light novels

Best light novels DEFAULT

30 Best Light Novels of All Time

Light Novels are begin more well-known as a part of Japanese pop culture as well as anime and manga. Many popular anime and manga are created, being adapted from the successful selling light novels these days.

Japanese literature including classic novels written by Soseki Natsume, Osamu Dazai, etc. and modern books by Haruki Murakami, Banana Yoshimoto, etc. has been loved by international readers. Light novels are also translated into multiple languages and read worldwide now.

It is difficult to define what is exactly a light novel, but almost all light novels have anime characters illustrated on their front covers and on some pages in the books. The pioneers of light novels were published from around the 1970s.

A legendary light novel title Slayers, which started its publication in 1989, familiarized a wide range of people in Japan. The new novel category got much more popular for Haruhi Suzumiya Series that has been published since 2003.

Some new genres are derived from general light novels, which consist of Noro-kei, Isekai and so on. A list of recommended light novels will be too long, and you may wonder which one to read first.

Today, I’d like to introduce 30 best light novels of all time for both beginners and experienced readers. Check the must-read classic titles and the hottest recent trends!

30. Slayers


Slayers (スレイヤーズ) is a pioneer of the light novel industry, which has ignited many manga and anime fans’ interests in the new novel category since the first volume was released in 1989. In addition to the current 17 volumes of the main story, there are also 30 volumes of the spin-off Slayers Special and 5 volumes of Slayers Smash. The fantasy story focuses on a young talented sorceress named Lina Inverse who travels around the world with her partner Gourry Gabriev.

Author: Hajime Kanzaka
Illustrator: Rui Araizumi
Volumes: 17 (As of 2021)

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>>Read Slayers on Kindle right now!

29. Oreimo


Oreimo (俺の妹がこんなに可愛いわけがない) is a comedy and slice-of-life light novel published since 2008, which was adapted into two seasons of an anime series in 2010 and 2013. The story begins when a protagonist and narrator Kyosuke finds out his 14-year-old younger sister Kirino is an Otaku (a geek) who like an eroge (erotic computer games).

Author: Tsukasa Fushimi
Illustrator: Hiro Kanzaki
Volumes: 15 (As of 2021)

28. Haganai

Haganai: I Don't Have Many Friends

Haganai (僕は友達が少ない), categorized as slice of life, comedy and romance, is a popular light novel which consists of 14 volumes published between 2009 and 2015. Two seasons of its anime adaptation were aired in 2011 and 2013. Haganai revolves around a blond high schooler Kodaka Hasegawa and two heroines Yozora Mikazuki and Sena Kashiwazaki.

Author: Yomi Hirasaka
Illustrator: Buriki
Volumes: 14

>>Check Haganai: I Don’t Have Many Friends on!

27. Goblin Slayer

Goblin Slayer

As one of the most popular light novel series in the recent years, Goblin Slayer (ゴブリンスレイヤー) has been published since 2016. The dark fantasy light novel, which was released as an online novel at first, has been also made into anime and manga adaptations. A main character is a venturer Goblin Slayer, who clings to hunting the weakest monster goblins.

Author: Kumo Kagyu
Illustrator: Noboru Kannatsuki
Volumes: 13 (As of 2021)

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>>Read Goblin Slayer on Kindle right now!

26. The Twelve Kingdoms

The Twelve Kingdoms

The Twelve Kingdoms (十二国記) is a fantasy historical novel series written by Fuyumi Ono, which has been published since the first title Shadow of the Moon, Sea of Shadow was released in 1992 (which also followed the previous entry The Demonic Child in 1991).

It is set in the twelve kingdoms in a parallel fantasy world, which is inspired by an ancient China. Main characters differ from one part to another but are related to each other.

Author: Fuyumi Ono
Illustrator: Akihiro Yamada
Volumes: 10 (As of 2021)

>>Check The Twelve Kingdoms on!

25. Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere

Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere

Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere (境界線上のホライゾン) is a fantasy light novel series mixed with multiple genres such as historical, comedy, Isekai, etc. There are 29 volumes and 3 spin-offs published from 2008 to 2018 in the series, adapted into two seasons of an anime series in 2011 and 2012.

The setting is an apocalyptic world, where humans live in the only habitable area in the East Asia. They try to find a way to get out of the earth reenacting human history.

Author: Minoru Kawakami
Illustrator: Satoyasu
Volumes: 32

24. Spice and Wolf

Spice and Wolf

Spice and Wolf (狼と香辛料) is a well-known fantasy adventure light novel franchise published since 2006. It has been made into various adaptations such as TV anime series, video games and manga series. The story was completed with the vol.17 and started the following adventure in Wolf and Parchment: New Theory Spice & Wolf (新説 狼と香辛料 狼と羊皮紙) in 2019.

Spice and Wolf focuses on economic activities in the medieval Europe where a twenty-something merchant travels with a girl who has wolf ears and tail.

Author: Isuna Hasekura
Illustrator: Ju Ayakura
Volumes: 22 (As of 2021)

>>Check Spice and Wolf on!
>>Read Spice and Wolf on Kindle right now!

23. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime

In the recent years, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime (転生したらスライムだった件) is what gets the most attention from light novel fans including adults and children. It is an Isekai adventure light novel series that was first released on the online novel publishing site Shosetsuka ni Naro in 2013.

There are also manga and anime adaptations that are as popular as the original novels. The story begins when a protagonist Satoru dies from stab wounds inflicted by a phantom killer and is reincarnated as a Slime in another world.

Author: Fuse
Illustrator: Mitz Vah
Volumes: 17 (As of 2021)

>>Check That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime on!
>>Read That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime on Kindle right now!

22. The Rising of the Shield Hero

The Rising of the Shield Hero

In one of the most popular light novel genres Isekai, The Rising of the Shield Hero (盾の勇者の成り上がり) is highly recommended to read now. The fantasy adventure series started its publication on the user-generated light novel website Shosetsuka ni Naro from 2012.

It has been also adapted into a manga and TV anime series. A university student Naofumi Iwatani is summoned into another world as the Shield Hero with other weapons equipped heroes.

Author: Aneko Yusagi
Illustrator: Minami Seira
Volumes: 22 (As f 2021)

>>Check The Rising of the Shield Hero on!
>>Read The Rising of the Shield Hero on Kindle right now!

21. Boogiepop Series

Boogiepop And Others

Boogiepop Series (ブギーポップシリーズ), which is also known as the first title Boogiepop and Others (ブギーポップは笑わない), is a classic dark-fantasy light novel series written by Kouhei Kadono. It has been published since 1998, adapted into two versions of anime series in 2000 and 2019.

Boogiepop Series depicts the life of high schoolers who have negative personal problems, and Boogiepop shows up as the other side of a character’s personality when the world faces an imminent threat.

Author: Kouhei Kadono
Illustrator: Kouji Ogata
Volumes: 23 (As of 2021)

>>Check Boogiepop And Others on!

20. Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody

Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody

Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody (デスマーチからはじまる異世界狂想曲) is a popular Isekai light novel series starting its publication on the online light novel website Shosetsuka ni Naro in 2013. Its manga adaptation has been made since 2014 and an anime adaptation was released in 2018.

The story follows a gaming programmer who finds he is sent to the world inside an MMORPG awakening from his nap.

Author: Hiro Ainana
Illustrator: shri
Volumes: 22 (As of 2021)

>>Check Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody on!
>>Read Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody on Kindle right now!

19. Katanagatari


The famous author Nisio Isin’s action historical novel Katanagatari (刀語) consists of 12 volumed that were published for the twelfth month straight in 2007. It was also adapted into an anime series in 2010.

Katanagatari is set in a Japanese period of warring states (around the Edo period) and centers on a swordsman named Yasuri Shichika, who sets out on a journey to collect the twelve legendary swords.

Author: Nisio Isin
Illustrator: Take
Volumes: 12

>>Check Katanagatari on!

18. Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend

Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend

Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend (冴えない彼女の育てかた) is one of the most popular modern light novel categorized as romance and comedy. The light novels including 13 volumes with 5 collections of short stories were published from 2012 to 2017. The first season of an anime adaptation was broadcasted in 2015 and the second season in 2017, which were followed by an anime movie Saekano the Movie: Finale in 2019.

The main character is a high school boy Tomoya Aki, who creates a visual novel computer game with his classmate Megumi Kato, an illustrator Eriri Spencer Sawamura and a novelist Utaha Kasumigaoka.

Author: Fumiaki Maruto
Illustrator: Kurehito Misaki
Volumes: 18

▽You can get the manga adaptation right now!▽

>>Check Saekano Manga Adaptation on!

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

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

Is It Wrong to 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) is a quite popular fantasy light novel series written by Fujino Omori. It was first released on a online novel website Arcadia and has been published as physical books since 2013. There are three seasons of an anime adaptation aired in 2015, 2019 and 2020, and the fourth season will follow them in 2022.

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? focuses on a young boy named Bell Cranel, who fights against evil monsters in Dungeons with the goddess Hestia Familia members and other gods.

Author: Fujino Omori
Illustrator: Suzuhito Yasuda
Volumes: 16 (As of 2021)

>>Check Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? on!
>>Read Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? on Kindle right now!

16. No Game No Life

No Game No Life

No Game No Life (ノーゲーム・ノーライフ) is an Isekai comedy light novel with the theme of games, both written and illustrated by Yu Kamiya. It has been published since 2012 and was made into an anime adaptation in 2014.

No Game No Life focuses on two gaming geniuses: a 18-year-old boy Sora and his 11-year-old stepsister Shiro. They are summoned to another world and battle with other species characters in a variety of games.

Author: Yu Kamiya
Illustrator: Yu Kamiya
Volumes: 11 (As of 2021)

15. Overlord


A popular modern Isekai and antihero light novel Overlord (オーバーロード) has been published since it was first released as an online novel on Arcadia in 2010. Its manga adaptation started in 2015, and there are three seasons of an anime adaptation broadcasted in 2015 and 2018.

Overlord is set in the 22nd century when a DMMORPG called Yggdrasil is developed. A protagonist, who comes to be called Ainz Ooal Gown, is sent to a gaming world and is to attain the world domination with the strongest power.

Author: Kugane Maruyama
Illustrator: so-bin
Volumes: 14 (As of 2021)

>>Check Overlord on!
>>Read Overlord on Kindle right now!

14. The Saga of Tanya the Evil

The Saga of Tanya the Evil

The Saga of Tanya the Evil (幼女戦記) is an Isekai light novel franchise with the theme of military. Its serialization started on the novel publishing website Arcadia in 2011 and the light novel has been published since 2013. It has been adapted into over 20 volumes of manga series and 12-episode anime series.

The setting of The Saga of Tanya the Evil is Europe during the world wars. A 30-something business person is reincarnated as a 9-year-old blond girl into the parallel world, who is named Tanya von Degurechaff. She fights in the war at the rank of major using magical powers.

Author: Carlo Zen
Illustrator: Shinobu Shinotsuki
Volumes: 12 (As of 2021)

>>Check The Saga of Tanya the Evil on!
>>Read The Saga of Tanya the Evil on Kindle right now!

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

Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!

Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World! (この素晴らしい世界に祝福を!) is one of the most popular light novel series in modern days. The Isekai comedy light novel was serialized between 2013 and 2020, adapted into two seasons of anime series released in 2016 and 2017.

The story begins when a high school boy Kazuma dies in an accident and is reincarnated into another world as an ordinary venturer with a goddess named Aqua. They are get involved in various problems with a magician Megumin and a crusader Darkness in the role playing game world.

Author: Natsume Akatsuki
Illustrator: Kurone Mishima
Volumes: 17

>>Check Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World! on!
>>Read Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World! on Kindle right now!

12. Kino’s Journey -the Beautiful World-

Kino’s Journey -the Beautiful World-

The long-run fantasy adventure light novel Kino’s Journey -the Beautiful World- (キノの旅 -the Beautiful World-), written by Keiichi Sigsawa, has been published with an episodic structure since 2000. One of the most famous light novels in Dengeki Bunko was adapted into two versions of anime series broadcasted in 2003 and 2017.

Kino’s Journey -the Beautiful World- focuses on a teen girl named Kino, who travels around the fantasy world with her partner motorcycle Hermes that can speak. It depicts the fables in a variety of countries she visits, and each of them has a unique system, culture and concept.

Author: Keiichi Sigsawa
Illustrator: Kouhaku Kuroboshi
Volumes: 23 (As of 2021)

>>Check Kino’s Journey on!

11. Toradora!


As one of the best romantic comedy light novels, Toradora! (とらドラ!) should be picked out by classic light novel fans. The slice-of-life novel was published from 2006 to 2009 consisting 10 volumes and 3 spin-offs. Its manga adaptation started in 2007 and an anime series was aired in 2008-2009.

Toradora! presents everyday of a high schooler named Ryuji Takasu and a heroine Taiga Aisaka. The relationships between them and their classmates Minori Kushieda and Yusaku Kitamura is changing though seasonal events and various activities.

Author: Yuyuko Takemiya
Illustrator: Yasu
Volumes: 13

>>Check Toradora! on!

10. A Certain Magical Index

A Certain Magical Index

A Certain Magical Index (とある魔術の禁書目録), one of the most famous and popular light novels of all time, has been published with over 50 volumes since 2004. The first part was completed with the 22nd volume, and its sequel series New Testament: A Certain Magical Index (新約 とある魔術の禁書目録) started in 2011. The third part with the title Genesis Testament: A Certain Magical Index (創約 とある魔術の禁書目録) followed it from 2020. In addition, there are some popular spin-offs like A Certain Scientific Railgun (とある科学の超電磁砲).

The setting of A Certain Magical Index is a futuristic world, where psychic abilities are revealed by science. There are espers with science powers and sorcerers with magic powers in the Academy City. The story centers on a high schooler Toma Kamijo, who meets a little mysterious girl called Index.

Author: Kazuma Kamachi
Illustrator: Kiyotaka Haimura
Volumes: 53 (As of 2021)

>>Check A Certain Magical Index on!
>>Read A Certain Magical Index on Kindle right now!

9. Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions

Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions

Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions (中二病でも恋がしたい!) is a renowned slice of life light novel series published from 2011 to 2017, also categorized as comedy and romance. It won an encouragement prize in the 1st Kyoto Animation Award in 2010 and was adapted into an anime series by Kyoto Animation in 2012 and 2014.

The symbol of Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions is Chunibyo, which is a modern Japanese term used to describe teenagers who have grandiose delusions that they are a much more special person than others. A first-grade high schooler Yuta Togashi, who used to be a Chunibyo in the middle school, meets a currently Chunibyo girl Rikka Takanashi.

Author: Torako
Illustrator: Nozomi Osaka
Volumes: 4

8. Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

The popular recent light novel series 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) in the genre mixed with slice of life and fantasy started its publication from 2014. The first anime adaptation was made from the original light novel in 2018, followed by an anime movie Rascal Does Not Dream of a Dreaming Girl (青春ブタ野郎はゆめみる少女の夢を見ない) in 2019.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai is a seaside city Fujisawa and follows a high school boy Sakuta Azusagawa. The story begins when he meets a one-year-older Senpai heroine Mai Sakurajima who wears a bunny girl outfit in the library. Strange supernatural events occur to them and other heroines, caused by their psychological problems.

Author: Hajime Kamoshida
Illustrator: Keiji Mizoguchi
Volumes: 11 (As of 2021)

>>Check Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai on!
>>Read Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai on Kindle right now!

7. Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online (ソードアート・オンライン), written by Reki Kawahara, is one of the most famous and popular light novel series all over the world. The action adventure light novel has been published since 2009 while Reki Kawahara has written the other popular title Accel World (アクセル・ワールド) simultaneously.

The sequel Sword Art Online: Progressive (ソードアート・オンライン プログレッシブ) has been also serialized since 2012. There are three seasons of the anime series aired from 2012 to 2020, which will be followed by the anime adaptations of the rest of the original novels.

Sword Art Online is set in Japan in 2022, when the world’s first VRMMORPG (virtual reality massively multiplayer online role-playing game) called Sword Art Online (SAO) is invented. Kirito, a protagonist of the story and a player of SAO, is trapped in the game world with other players. Kirito and a heroine Asuna head to the 100th floor of a castle Aincrad to log out of SAO.

Author: Reki Kawahara
Illustrator: abec
Volumes: 25 as of 2021 (Sword Art Online)/6 as of 2021(Sword Art Online: Progressive)

>>Check Sword Art Online on!
>>Read Sword Art Online on Kindle right now!

6. Zaregoto Series

Decapitation Kubikiri Cycle- The Blue Savant and the Nonsense User

Zaregoto Series (戯言シリーズ), which is known for the first volume’s title Decapitation Kubikiri Cycle: The Blue Savant and the Nonsense User (クビキリサイクル 青色サヴァンと戯言遣い), is one of top-rated light novel series written by Nisio Isin. Total 9 volumes were published between 2002 and 2005. Spin-off series such as Ningen Series and Saikyo Series are derived from Zaregoto Serie.

Zaregoto Series’s first part was adapted into an OVA (original video animation) with 8 episodes released in 2016-2017.

The action and mystery light novel is narrated by the first-person narrator, who visits a deserted island with a heroine Tomo Kunagisa in Decapitation Kubikiri Cycle: The Blue Savant and the Nonsense User. He encounters mysterious cases around other characters he newly meets.

Author: Nisio Isin
Illustrator: Take
Volumes: 9

>>Check Decapitation Kubikiri Cycle on!

5. My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected

My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected

My Youth Romantic 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。), abbreviated to OreGairu and also known as My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, is categorized as comedy, romance and slice of life, which is a symbolic genre of the modern light novels.

14 volumes and 3 spin-offs were published from 2011 to 2019, adapted into there seasons of an anime series broadcasted in 2013, 2015 and 2020.

A high school boy named Hachiman Hikigaya is featured in the romantic comedy light novel. He is inspired to form a service club in the high school with heroines Yukino Yukinoshita and Yui Yuigahama by their teacher. They solve a variety of personal problems held by other students in the school.

Author: Wataru Watari
Illustrator: Ponkan8
Volumes: 17

>>Check My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected on!

4. Classroom of the Elite

Classroom of the Elite

Classroom of the Elite(ようこそ実力至上主義の教室へ), which is abbreviated to You-Jitsu, is one of the hottest light novel these days. The slice-of-life and psychological thriller light novel started its serialization in 2015 and the 1st Year Arc was completed with the 14th volume in 2019. And then, the 2nd Year Arc has been published since 2020.

They has been adapted into a manga series since 2016 and was adapted into an anime series in 2017.

Classroom of the Elite is set in the Advanced Nurturing High School in Tokyo, centering on a first-grade boy named Kiyotaka Ayanokoji. There are four classes (A to D) in each grade. He belongs to the lowest class D and all students aim for reaching the top class until graduation competing in academic skills and special extra tests.

Author: Shogo Kinugasa
Illustrator: Shunsaku Tomose
Volumes: 14 (1st Year Arc)/4 as of 2021 (2nd Year Arc)

>>Check Classroom of the Elite on!

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

Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-

Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- (Re:ゼロから始める異世界生活) is the best Isekai light novel of all time, written by Tappei Nagatsuki and illustrated by Shinichirou Otsuka. The Isekai dark-fantasy light novel has been published on the user-generated novel website Shosetsuka ni Naro since 2012 and released as physical books since 2014.

There are 25 volumes in the main story so far in addition to 6 collections of short stories and 4 spin-offs. They are also adapted into popular anime series with two seasons in 2016 and 2020-2021.

Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- is set in an Isekai world (a parallel world), where a 17-year-old boy Subaru Natsuki is sent. He meets a heroine Emilia with her cat-shaped pet spirit Puck and helps her to sit upon the throne of the Kingdom of Lugunica.

Unlike many other light novels, the protagonist is not gifted with any special power like magic skills or martial arts techniques except a strange ability: Shinimodori (return by death). He goes back into the past to give his life another try when he dies. His journey with Emilia and his fellow characters is depicted with comedy and drama in the whole story.

Author: Tappei Nagatsuki
Illustrator: Shinichirou Otsuka
Volumes: 35 including 6 short-story collections and 4 spin-offs (As of 2021)

>>Check Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- on!
>>Read Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- on Kindle right now!

2. Haruhi Suzumiya Series

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

Haruhi Suzumiya Series (涼宮ハルヒシリーズ), also known as the first volume title The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱), is one of the legendary and best light novel series, which most light novel fans agree with.

The first volume of the fantasy and comedy series was written by Nagaru Tanigawa in 2003, and the latest 12th title The Intuition of Haruhi Suzumiya (涼宮ハルヒの直観) was released in 2020. It is also famous for the two seasons of its anime adaptation aired in 2006 and 2009.

Haruhi Suzumiya Series revolves around an eccentric high school girl named Haruhi Suzumiya, narrated by a protagonist Kyon. To bread away from her boring school life, she founds a school club called SOS Brigade that consists of an alien Yuki Nagato, a time traveler Mikuru Asahina and an esper Itsuki Koizumi in addition to Haruhi and Kyon.

The light novel mixed with science fiction and slice of life depicts the fusion of peaceful daily life in the high school with supernatural phenomena occurred by the unique characters. They get involved in the exciting problems caused by Haruhi.

Author: Nagaru Tanigawa
Illustrator: Noizi Ito
Volumes: 12 (As of 2021)

>>Check The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya on!

1. Monogatari Series


Monogatari Series (物語シリーズ), which starts with the first title Bakemonogatari (化物語), is perfect for the best light novel of all time. Monogatari Series has been written by a famous author Nisio Isin since 2006, categorized as fantasy, mystery, comedy, slice of life and even action.

There are three seasons of an anime adaptations and three anime movies which were adapted until the 18th volume Zoku Owarimonogatari. Its manga adaptation began in 2018.

Monogatari Series is set in a Japanese high school life of a protagonist named Koyomi Araragi. The symbol of the light novel is an apparition (Kaii in Japanese) that causes supernatural phenomena around him and several heroines including his girlfriend Hitagi Senjogahara and his classmate Tsubasa Hanekawa.

He is transformed into a half-vampire half-human by the most powerful apparition vampire Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade. Other main characters also meet apparitions which have a negative influence on them due to their personal problems.

Each character has a unique personality that is totally different from the others, and their conversations are humorous, which is the highlight of Monogatari Series.

Author: Nisio Isin
Illustrator: Vofan
Volumes: 27 (As of 2021)

>>Check Bakemonogatari on!
>>Read Bakemonogatari on Audible right now!

▽Which is the best Monogatari Series reading order?▽

How was the best light novel list of all time? Those well-selected books are really recommended to both beginners and Japanese pop culture freaks. Enjoy reading the greatest light novels!

Check more recommendations of popular light novels!

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Great Light Novels to Read Even if You've Already Seen the Anime

With so much of the world and our daily lives being changed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many people are looking for new ways to fill that time they usually spend going out with friends, watching live sports or attending social events. Reading has quickly become one of the most effective means of escape and enjoyment these days, so what better time for anime and manga fans to dive into the world of light novels?

Like manga, light novels also represent the source material for a lot of anime, but the latter has only started catching on in the West over the last five-10 years. So, what is the difference between the two mediums? Whereas manga is developed in the classic comic book or graphic novel format, light novels are more like a standard book: all words with just a few full-page images scattered throughout. Classic anime adapted from light novels include Full Metal Panic! and Boogiepop, along with current popular series like Ascendance of a BookwormSword Art Online and Konosuba. As you'll see, many LN series run past the stories of their anime adaptations and provide more detail and character development that can't always be fully captured in 20-30 minute episodes.

RELATED: Tower of God: What Is the Legendary Weapon, Black March?

Without further ado, let's look at a few light novel series readers everywhere can enjoy -- even if you've already seen their respective anime.


A supernatural classic. The novel series spans a whopping 25 volumes and remains ongoing; as of this writing, the first 18 volumes have been officially published in English by Vertical Press. Whether it's the highly acclaimed anime, manga, light novels or audiobooks, each version of Monogatari is like experiencing it for the first time all over again.

Author Nisio Isin's novels present the full adventures of Koyomi Araragi after he is attacked by a vampire and subsequently ends up helping many female friends in their own encounters with aberrations, ghosts, beasts and many other forms of Yōkai. Acid-tongued Hitagi Senjougahara, class president Tsubasa Hanekawa and the rest of the cast are at their wittiest and most deeply self-reflective as they deal with supernatural phenomena and its meaning in their daily lives.

Spice & Wolf

Another widely acclaimed anime series, Spice & Wolf follows the adventures and witty banter of traveling merchant Kraft Lawrence and pagan wolf goddess Holo. He dreams of one day settling down and opening his own shop while she dreams of returning to her hometown of Yoitsu, which she hasn't seen in hundreds of years.

RELATED: My Hero Academia: Endeavor Has Not Yet Redeemed Himself (But He Can)

The Spice & Wolf anime ended after only two seasons, covering Volumes 1-5 of the light novels. However, that's far from the full story as Isuna Hasekura's novels span 22 volumes as well as a four-book spinoff series called Wolf & Parchment. By reading the novels, you can finally see in full how Lawrence and Holo's traveling story ends and enjoy so much more of their scheming -- towards others and each other -- along the way.

Sword Art Online: Progressive

Reki Kawahara's famous action/adventure series is known by anime and manga fans across the world. Expert gamer Kazuto "Kirito" Kirigaya is one of 10,000 online players who are trapped in a virtual reality game called Sword Art Online, where all 100 levels of the game must be cleared in order to escape. If they die in the game, they also die in real life.

The Progressive novels represent a near-complete rewrite of the original Aincrad story arc as Kirito and Asuna's adventures proceed across each individual floor of the game. With a wide-ranging cast of new characters -- both friends and enemies -- and each floor bringing its own unique set of challenges, Progressive provides much smoother character development and fascinating new subplots as Kirito and Asuna slowly but surely make their way through the world of SAO.

Classroom of the Elite

Psychological thriller Classroom of the Elite is set at the government-established Tokyo Advanced Metropolitan Nurturing School, where a group of handpicked students is selected with the hope that they'll become the best and brightest members of the working world. The story follows the quiet but mysterious Kiyotaka Ayanokouji as the classes battle against each other in various creative tests that stretch the limits of their thinking and deduction abilities.

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The anime, despite being well-received, only ran for one season in summer 2017 with no signs of a second season on the horizon. Luckily, Syougo Kinugasa's light novels are up to Volume 15 in Japan -- the anime covered Volumes 1-3 -- with the English translation by Seven Seas Entertainment currently up to Volume 4 and still going strong.

The Irregular at Magic High School

With the recent news that The Irregular at Magic High School anime is finally getting a second season, there's no better time to dig into the 30 -- yes, 30 -- volumes that make up the light novel series. Set in the year 2095, where magic has been accepted as a technological-based practice, protagonist Tatsuya Shiba and his sister, Miyuki, are enrolled in a top academy. However, thanks to the school's stringent rules, Miyuki is placed in the prestigious Course 1 while Tatsuya, despite being an expert in many forms of magic, is placed in the undesirable Course 2.

Magic High School puts the "light" in light novels to shame with its sheer density of world-building and science-based descriptions of magic and technology. Its exceptionally formal tone also gives it a more authentic-feeling experience of the Japanese setting.

Attack on Titan: Lost Girls

One of the best-loved, most widely acclaimed anime and manga series of the last decade. Attack on Titan is one of the rare shows that has even broken into mainstream popularity and brought in brand new fans to the realm of anime. With sadistic thrill-a-minute action scenes and shocking reveals about the characters and the world they inhabit, fans can only wait with bated breath for the fourth and final season coming in fall 2020.

RELATED: D&D Moral Alignments Of Attack on Titan Characters

The Lost Girls light novelis a set of three side stories providing more depth and background to two of the series' strongest female characters: Mikasa Ackerman and Annie Leonhart. The stories are short but fascinating reads, making this novel a solid choice to pass the time while waiting for Season 4.

Arifureta: From Commonplace to World's Strongest

While opinions on Season 1 of Arifureta were divided to say the least, the reason the show was highly anticipated in the first place was Ryo Shirakome's widely enjoyed light novel series. It starts out as a typical isekai: average, underachieving Hajime Nagumo is often bullied in class and wishes he could live in another world. Suddenly, the wish is granted as Hajime and his classmates are transported to a medieval fantasy realm where they are asked to become warriors and save the human race from extinction.

The light novels stand out due to Shirakome's excellent world-building, laugh-out-loud humor and genuinely moving moments as Hajime endures grueling struggles to survive. After becoming the world's strongest fighter, he faces increasingly difficult moral dilemmas as the mysteries surrounding the world are unraveled. Without question, the novels are the prime Arifureta experience.

I Want to Eat Your Pancreas

Don't let the title scare you away. I Want to Eat Your Pancreas is a heart-wrenching story of an unnamed protagonist who accidentally finds the secret diary of his classmate, Sakura Yamauchi, who is dying of a pancreatic disease. No one outside of her family knows, and she makes him promise not to tell anyone. Through their subsequent adventures, an unlikely friendship blossoms as Sakura's boundless positivity and zest for life start to influence the quiet, aloof protagonist.

RELATED: Dragon Ball's Strongest Saiyan Is Actually... a Human?!

After the novel was published in Japan in 2015, Pancreas later received both manga and film adaptations, all of which have received official English translations. This is a wonderful story to share even with friends who don't know what anime is. Just give them fair warning: tissues will be needed.


Widely viewed as the harbinger of the light novel in Japan, the supernatural tales of Boogiepop have inspired authors worldwide since their original publication in the 1990s. Written in an intentionally vague manner that asks the reader to solve parts of the story alongside the characters, the focus is on an urban legend about an angelic shinigami named Boogiepop who supposedly puts people on the brink of death out of their misery. As with most urban legends, rumors and reality purport to be very different things.

The novels have received multiple publications and anime adaptations, most recently the Boogiepop & Others anime which aired in early 2019. The first six novels were combined into two omnibus editions and translated into English by Seven Seas, making it an ideal way to experience this hugely influential series.


The series' full title is WorldEnd: What Do You Do At the End of the World? Are You Busy? Will You Save Us? 500 years after the human race was driven to near-extinction by a group of human-created beasts called The Seventeen, the surviving races -- most of them anthropomorphic -- now live together in a group of islands floating in the sky. Their best hope for defeating the beasts is a small group of young girls with special abilities and weapons but also tragic backstories.

RELATED: From Akira Toriyama to Tite Kubo: 10 Obscure Manga Made by Industry Legends

This underrated gem initially did not do well in Japan, with author Akira Kareno's afterward pleading with fans to help sales increase so he could continue writing past the first two volumes. Not only was the story completed -- only five volumes, mercifully short by light novel standards -- but it also received an anime adaptation and the novels were fully translated into English. If you have tissues leftover from Pancreas, you were smart to plan ahead.


Which Pokémon Would Be the Most Dangerous in Real Life?

About The Author
Joe Ballard (159 Articles Published)

Joe Ballard is an Illinois-based Editor for CBR and incurable anime lover. Anime was first injected into his veins as a teenager thanks to Dragon Ball and Yu Yu Hakusho airing on Toonami's Midnight Run. Since graduating from Illinois State with a BA in English, his journey has taken him from the music business to public relations to writing about anime and pop culture. He dreams of one day trying every single dish shown in Food Wars. You can find him on Instagram @JoeBallard88 or reach out via email at [email protected]!

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You might’ve been familiar with the words anime novels or LN or web novels. All of these words refer to one source, and that is a light novel in which you immerse yourself in a world while reading it.

Light Novels acted as a source for anime since the 1990s. Due to their popularity, many of the light novels have been translated into different languages to make it convenient for the readers.

Probably you haven’t heard about many famous light novels and read some, but couldn’t get into it. Well, you don’t have to worry about that since we have prepared a list of the best web novels/ light novels you can read.

Best Light Novels to Read! 

15. Martial World

Martial World- best light novels
  • Year: 2012
  • Volumes: 2255 Chapters
  • Author: Cocooned Cow

Martial World is a Chinese fantasy light novel with an amazing world-building. Most of the readers praised this novel as ‘Once in a Lifetime Read.’

The plot seems entirely new for regular novel readers, but if you’re already into fantasy light novels, then you’ll get a treat for your eyes.

In the Realm of the Gods, numerous legends fought over a mystical cube. But after the battle, it disappeared into a place called void. Ling Ming finds the cube accidentally, and as you can expect, the journey of a legend is on its way.

Even though we’ve shown a little summary of the plot, there are a lot of turns in the story that’ll mesmerize you. So, if you’re looking for a light fantasy novel, then this one is for you. After all, it is one of the best light novels out there.

14. Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash- best light novels
  • Year: 2013
  • Volumes: 15 (+2 Side-story Volumes)
  • Author: Jyumonji Ao

Probably most people like to read Japanese Isekai light novels because wherever you search, you find an amazing isekai novel. And here is Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash with its perfect storyline and decent pacing.

The story starts with Haruhiro waking up in a new world with some other people who were barely able to remember their names. Soon they find out that they entered into a world that is exactly like a game.

To survive, Haruhiro forms a party with them and learns new skills in the world of Grimgar. Without knowing what awaits him, his tale began as he gets into an adventure born from the ashes.

The translation quality of this light novel is top-notch. With a character-driven story, it immerses you completely in the Grimgar world and takes you along the adventures. After all, it is one of the best adventurous light novels.

13. Tales of Demons and Gods

Tales of Demons and Gods- best light novels
  • Year: 2015
  • Volumes: 491 Chapters (Ongoing)
  • Author: Mad Snail

When it comes to fantasy, Chinese light novels are top-notch, and Tales of Gods and Demons is no exception. The most influential aspect of this novel is its intense plot.

Along with its unique world-building, readers would think as if they were summoned in a different world. You might find a few cliches in the novel, but you’ll enjoy it as much as you discover its flaws. It is, without a doubt, one of the best light novels to exist.

Nie Li was killed by a Sage Emperor and reborn as his 13-year-old self. With this second chance in his life, he can finally take revenge against the Sage Emperor and protect his beloved ones.

If only it would be that easy to defeat a Sage Emperor who is as powerful as a God. With the vast knowledge of his previous life, he wields the most potent demon spirits and starts his journey to reach the pinnacle of the Martial Arts.

12. Warlock of the Magus World

Warlock of the Magus World- best light novels
  • Year: 2015
  • Volumes:1200 Chapters
  • Author: The Plagiarist, Wen Chao Gong

You might’ve encountered a few novels where MC is a badass, but this novel stands on the pinnacle of all those. As you can expect, the MC is quite cold-hearted. Due to this fact, you might even abandon the novel in the middle.

But let us restrain you from doing it. The plot moves at a great pace so that you won’t get bored, and even the characters are entertaining. In the end, you’ll feel satisfied with it.

When a futuristic scientist gets transported into Leylin’s body in a fantasy world, his desire for power leads him to pursue magic. In this world, there is no mercy, and Leylin feels as if only he’ll do something if it benefits him.

He is ruthless who will do anything to reach his goal. Can he live his life like this once he started pursuing his goal? I guess you’ll find out once you finish this incredible novel. We wouldn’t have brought it to the list if it isn’t worthy of being one of the best Chinese light novels.

11. Seoul Station’s Necromancer

Seoul Station's Necromancer- best light novels
  • Year: 2016
  • Volumes: 208 Chapters
  • Author: Jinwoo Seol

Do you like light novels that include levelling up concept and some epic battles with a badass MC? Then you have got the right one here. In the beginning, I thought the novel would end up as the normal ones where the concept won’t differ.

However, when I got halfway through the novel, it was terrific, and it is perfectly set to the title. If you start reading it, I’m sure you’ll go through numerous chapters without any break. That’s how good this novel is.

Kahng Woojin finds himself returned to Earth after 20 years of hellish life on Planet Alphen. He finds that the Earth is not the same, and it is filled with Dungeons, where monsters pop out.

He became a Necromancer after being summoned to the other planet, and now when he is finally back, his strength and age are set back to zero.

Now could he be the one who would save the earth from the upcoming disasters as he gets stronger? It is one of the most well-written Korean light novels out there.

10. Danmachi

Danmachi- best light novels
  • Year: 2013
  • Volumes: 15
  • Author: Yasuda Suzuhito

Suppose one had to describe Danmachi in one word, probably Masterpiece! would be suited for it. If you haven’t read Danmachi yet, you are missing a lot. Unlike some light novels, everything will be on point, and the translation is flawless.

You won’t even find any plot holes in the whole novel, and there isn’t any room for filler words either. What more aspects do you need to call it a Masterpiece? At the very least, it is one of the best light novels I have read.

An Orphan form boy goes to a dungeon city in a fantasy world to become an adventurer. As you can expect, in this fantasy world, adventurers can receive game-like levels and stats.

Patron gods who ascended from another dimension look after these abilities, and one would become strong as he encounters various enemies. Our MC starts as a sole member of a goddess guild and dreams of becoming a harem hero. That is one amazing fantasy he has.

09. Everyone Else is a Returnee

Everyone Else is a Returnee- best light novels
  • Year: 2016
  • Volumes: 348 Chapters (+4 Extra Chapters and 1 Afterword)
  • Authors: Toika, Toy Car

Just by looking at the title, you could get into this fantastic light level, and believe me, you should read it. The concept of this light novel is unique from the novels you read regularly.

Everything sticks together soon even it goes in a different direction in the middle, and you’ll be amazed by the writer’s imagination. We just hope that this novel will be on par with the ones with your taste.

The MC, in this light novel, is a person who left out in his elementary school, middle school, and high school. When he finally becomes a college student, he is left out of humanity. Ignored by God, he spends over a millennium of his skills for the upcoming Cataclysm.

Watching over the earth every day, he waits for the day where he can find the answer behind all this. Aren’t you amazed by the concept? Get ready to witness one of the most thrilling Korean light novels out there.

08. Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World

Konosuba: God's Blessing on This Wonderful World- best light novels
  • Year: 2013
  • Volumes: 17
  • Author: Akatsuki Natsume

Unlike any other light novel in our list, the world-building of Konosuba isn’t massive, but in the minimal concept, it gives plenty of satisfaction to the reader. More importantly, the story isn’t something that you should consider, and that’s where its charm lies.

It is more like a gag-adventure with tons of hilarious and cute moments. But it doesn’t mean you should imagine the show has no character development. You’ll see once you get into the story.

Kazuma Satou is a shut-in who used to play games all the time. But when he dies, he gets summoned to another world and meets a goddess. He wants to live a good life in this world, but unfortunately, he faces enormous problems due to a single decision.

That is, he chooses the goddess to accompany him when he got a choice to choose a wish. Even the demon king’s army targets him. Thus, we brought it into the list of best Japanese light novels.

07. You’ve Got the Wrong House, Villain

 You've Got the Wrong House, Villain- best light novels
  • Year: 2019
  • Volumes:18 Chapters (+1 Extra)
  • Author: Margot

How should I start this? A small notice for the new readers that this is a slow burn romance light novel. Just because it took some time to get into it, don’t give up on it. You might miss a fantastic light novel. It takes around a couple of chapters before the romance gets heated up.

However, throughout your read, the character development and the pacing of the plot shows the real deal. In the end, it leaves a scar in your heart as one of the best romantic light novels ever.

As if it wasn’t enough suffering for the female lead in this light novel to be reincarnated as a child in the slums, she was taken to a city of crime as a test subject. But when a man appeared and destroyed the institute, she escaped and trying to live a normal life.

When she meets a certain man named Lakis Avalon collapsing in front of her house, she realizes he is the king of the underworld and the same person she saw at the institute before. But ‘You’ve got the wrong house, Villain.’

06. Reverend Insanity

Reverend Insanity- best light novels
  • Year: 2012
  • Volumes: 2335 Chapters
  • Author: Gu Zhen Ren

Revered Insanity is a God-Tier wuxia light novel when it comes to action and concept. In this novel, the main character gets reincarnated 500 years back after pursuing immortality his whole life.

Now he is reincarnated, but what is his true motive because he even gave up his entire life chasing power? The action scenes in the novel aren’t normal ones like flashy fires or god-like movements.

Gu worms are the essence of one’s capabilities, and the way MC makes use of these is genuinely astonishing. With a lot of twists and turns, you’ll get to learn the truths and secrets of the characters. In other words, it is a complete anticipation builder.

Make sure you read it so that you won’t have to miss once such a fantastic light novel. Try it, and you’ll totally get hooked since it is one of the best light novels to exist.

05. The Legend of Sun Knight

The Legend of Sun Knight- best light novels
  • Year: 2007
  • Volumes: 08
  • Authors: J.u. and Ya Sha

The Legend of Sun Knight” sets in a world where God of Light is worshipped by the Church containing Twelve Holy Knights. While everything changes around them, these Holy Knights always remain the same; so is the law and justice.

The main character is one of the Twelve Knights, and his greatest wish is to stand before the entire continent and roar like a true knight who prevails justice over trash humans. Unfortunately, the God of Light still forgives everyone, and so the main character.

I tried to describe the story as funny as possible, considering this light novel is ridiculously hilarious. The Twelve Knights are awesome amidst different personalities. The main character is the best “hero” I’ve ever seen in any light novel.

With an amazing fantasy setting, it takes you on a wonderful journey with some funniest scenarios. So, if you haven’t read it yet, make sure you do. After all, it is one of the best light novels out there.

04. Monogatari

Monogatari- best light novels
  • Year: 2006
  • Volumes: 27
  • Author: Nisio Isin

If you have heard this name already, then it must be a popular anime series. Well, the Monogatari anime series has quite a reputation over the fandom, but it is adapted from this light novel series. So, you should already know how this novel will be and why you should read it.

With a touch of Japanese myths and the Supernatural concept, it will take you on a ride of amusing adventure. After all, it is one of the best light novels you can find.

The story centers on Koyomi Araragi, a high school student who is still a human; instead, she is actually a Vampire. One day, her classmate Hitagi falls on the stairs and finds himself in Koyomi’s hands. She finds something strange about him, and despite threatening him, she offers him help.

She introduces him to Meme Oshino, who helped her from becoming a vampire. The story turns quite epic when you get into various volumes. We recommend you not to miss such amazing light novels at any cost.

03. Spice & Wolf

Spice & Wolf best light novels
  • Year: 2006
  • Volumes: 22 (+3 Spinoff)
  • Author:Ayakura Juu

If you’re a fan of slice of life light novels, then you should’ve already read this one, or you might as well do it right now. Spice and Wolf is one of the gold-standard light novels if one puts it in terms of rank.

The world-building is too original, and the characters are compelling. Mostly, people like it for the characters and the storyline, but if you think of other aspects such as the romance between the characters and humor, then you’ll love it over time.

The story follows a traveling merchant known as “Lawrence” who used to travel in the usual way and make his living. One day he accidentally finds ‘Holo‘ in his cart, and she resembles the form of a wolf goddess.

Holo makes a deal with Lawrence to take her on his travels, and in return, she would increase his profits with her power. No business person with common sense won’t ignore such an offer. Lawrence decides to travel to many other places he had never been, and so their journey begins.

02. The Empty Box & Zeroth Maria

The Empty Box & Zeroth Maria- best light novels
  • Year: 2009
  • Volumes: 7
  • Authors: Tetsuo, 415

The Empty Box and Zeroth Maria‘ starts with quite a confusion and every loose end that leaves us dumbfounded will tie down at the end of the story. Besides, it’s a novel with school life as its base, and it is more than just a mystery novel.

The story follows Kazuki Hoshino, who desires to live a normal life without any conflicts. But when a transfer student Aya Otonashi who Kazuki believes that he didn’t meet accuses him of committing a crime.

But Kazuki has no memory at all. Just because the plot summary involves a couple, don’t think it as an ordinary romance novel. When the mysteries get revealed and the concepts go beyond one’s imagination, you only get to scream in surprise.

With well-developed characters and fictional concepts, it will take you on a grand adventure of suspense and thrill. After all, it is one of the best light novels out there.

01. Oregairu

Oregairu- best light novels
  • Year:2011
  • Volumes:14 (+3 Side-story Volumes)
  • Author:Watari Wataru

Perhaps if you’re looking for the best slice of life light novel, then you won’t get a better recommendation than this. The story follows the life of Hachiman Hikigaya, who leads a tough life without friends and a girlfriend.

When he sees his classmates discussing the good events that occurred in their life, he just imagined them as liars. And he has no dream or aim in his life. That’s how bored his life has become until now, but everything changes one day.

To help him, his teacher forces him to join the ‘service club‘ where only members of the club are Hachiman and a beautiful girl Yukino Yukinoshita. Just because its genre is a slice of life, don’t assume it as a slow-paced story.

Even though it takes a bit of time to build up the story, it includes a lot of hilarious and beautiful moments. Once you get into reading it, there is no stopping you from it. Well, we wouldn’t brag over anything unless it is one of the best light novels out there.

Final Thoughts

Well, it seems we have reached the conclusion of our list. Since the recommendations are picky, you wouldn’t find a single one with the worst experience; instead, you’ll love each one with a different sense. If you’re a beginner, make sure to pick up one that suits your taste.

If you’re a novel lover, probably, you’ll love every one of the light novels here. So, what are your thoughts on Light Novels or Anime Novels? What is your favorite novel so far? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Light novels best

25 Best Light Novels of All Time

A light novel is one of the coolest modern Japanese cultures while anime and 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.

Speaking of Japanese novels, Haruki Murakami, Soseki Natsume and 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. To 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 Japan 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 Japan and the light novel is one of the most popular book genres as well as manga and 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 and other languages so that you can enjoy reading them in your native languages.

25. Goblin Slayer

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 and anime adaptions have been made for its popularity.

Author: Kumo Kagyu
Illustrator: Noboru Kannatsuki
Published: from 2016
Genre: Dark fantasy, Adventure

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

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

Didn’t I Say To 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 and is born again in the parallel world as a teenage girl named Adele. She finds out that she has a much more powerful abilities than average while she asks to make her abilities just average.

Author: FUNA
Illustrator: Itsuki Akata
Published: from 2016
Genre: Isekai, Naro, Comedy

23. Katanagatari (Sword Tale)

Katanagatari Light Novel

Katanagatari (刀語), which means Sword Tale in English, was written in 2007-2008 by Nisio 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 Isin
Illustrator: Take
Published: 2007-2008
Genre: Historical, Action

22. The Rising of the Shield Hero

The Rising of the Shield Hero Light Novel

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

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

Author: Aneko Yusagi
Illustrator: Minami Seira
Published: from 2012
Genre: Naro, Isekai, Adventure

21. Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest

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 to the fantasy world with his classmates. He is represented as an antihero or dark hero in the story. The first season of the anime adaption was released in 2019.

Author: Ryo Shirakome
Illustrator: Takayaki
Published: from 2013
Genre: Naro, Isekai

20. Spice and Wolf

Spice and Wolf Light Novel

Spice and 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. A traveling merchant Kraft Lawrence encounters various incidents on his trip with the wolf personified Holo who looks like a human-wolf hybrid.

Author: Isuna Hasekura
Illustrator: Ju Ayakura
Published: from 2006
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure

19. Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody

Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody Light Novel

Death March to 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 old gaming programmer named Ichiro Suzuki works too hard and has a nap in the office. He wakes up to 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 Ainana
Illustrator: shri
Published: 2013-2020
Genre: Naro, Isekai

18. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime

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 and Isekai light novel with the unique theme.

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

Author: Fuse
Illustrator: Mitz Vah
Published: from 2014
Genre: Naro, Isekai

17. Classroom of the Elite

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 and 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 after Kiyotaka and his classmates go to the second grade.

Author: Shogo Kinugasa
Illustrator: Shunsaku Tomose
Published: from 2015
Genre: School, Thriller

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

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

Is It Wrong to 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 live from day to day and get stronger, and then he falls in love with the powerful swordswoman Ais.

Author: Fujino Omori
Illustrator: Suzuhito Yasuda
Published: from 2013
Genre: Fantasy

15. The Irregular at Magic High School

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 website in 2008 and 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 Sato
Illustrator: Kana Ishida
Published: from 2008
Genre: Naro, Action, Science Fiction

14. My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected

My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected Light Novel

My Youth Romantic 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 as My Teen Romantic 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 and his school service club members including the heroine Yukino Yukinoshita. The final season of its anime adaption is being released in 2020.

Author: Wataru Watari
Illustrator: Ponkan8
Published: 2011-2019
Genre: Slice of life, Romance

13. Zaregoto Series

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 is Decapitation: Kubikiri Cycle (クビキリサイクル 青色サヴァンと戯言遣い) published in 2002 and all 9 volumes were released by 2005.

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

Author: Nisio Isin
Illustrator: Take
Published: 2002-2005
Genre: Mystery

12. Overlord

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 of VRMMORPG (Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) named YGGDRASIL, finds out he is transported to the different world from YGGDRASIL as the game character called Ainz Ooal Gown.

Author: Kugane Maruyama
Illustrator: so-bin
Published: from 2012
Genre: Naro, Isekai

11. The Saga of Tanya the Evil

The Saga of Tanya the Evil Light Novel

The Saga of Tanya the Evil (幼女戦記), a unique fantasy light novel, started its publication on the website Arcadia in 2011 and as a physical book in 2013. The setting of The Saga of Tanya the Evil is inspired by the World Wars in Europe. A salaried worker is sent to another world in the past as a little girl named Tanya von Degurechaff. The young, 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 Zen
Illustrator: Shinobu Shinotsuki
Published: from 2011
Genre: Fantasy

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

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 website Shosetsuka ni Naro, and the story just came to the end 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 and Megumin. Kazuma, who dies in an accident when he is a high schooler, is sent to the fantasy world with the goddess Aqua.

Author: Natsume Akatsuki
Illustrator: Kurone Mishima
Published: 2012-2020
Genre: Isekai, Comedy

9. Toradora!

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 and 3 spin-offs published between 2006 and 2009.

In the story, everyday and 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 Takemiya
Illustrator: Yasu
Published: 2006-2009
Genre: Slice of life, Romance

8. Kino’s Journey -the Beautiful World-

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 a teen girl named Kino who travels around the world with a talking motorcycle named Hermes. She visits a variety of fictional counties that have unique customs and social systems. Each episode stands alone, which has a kind of allegoricalness. Two seasons of the anime adaption have been released.

Author: Keiichi Sigsawa
Illustrator: Kohaku Kuroboshi
Published: from 2000
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy

7. No Game No Life

No Game No Life Light Novel

No Game 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 and illustrates the characters on the cover.

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

Author: Yu Kamiya
Illustrator: Yu Kamiya
Published: from 2012
Genre: Fantasy, Isekai

6. Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

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 as Seishun 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 character Sakuta and people around him including his family and classmates. Those things are often caused by their psychological problems.

If you enjoy this light novel or other Japanese pop culture, you need to know the word Senpai, which means a senior especially in schools and other communities. In this case, the main heroine Mai is the Senpai (one grade ahead) for Sakuta. A manga adaption has been published since 2016 and the first season of the anime adaption was released in 2018.

Author: Hajime Kamoshida
Illustrator: Keiji Mizoguchi
Published: from 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Slice of life

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

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 to 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 set in the parallel world where the main character Subaru Natsuki is sent for any reason. He is transported to 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 the past in the living state, which is triggered by his death. The story follows him and his meeting various unique characters such as the heroine Emilia and the twin maids Ram and Rem.

Author: Tappei Nagatsuki
Illustrator: Shinichiro Otsuka
Published: from 2012
Genre: Dark fantasy, Isekai, Naro

4. A Certain Magical Index

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 action and fantasy. It consists of three titles so far: the first A Certain Magical Index published between 2004 and 2010, the second New Testament: A Certain Magical Index published between 2011 and 2019 and the third Genesis 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 and magic are a reality. There are 2 main groups in the world: Espers based on science and Sorcerers based on magic. A Certain Magical Index focuses on the main character Toma Kamijo who belongs to the side of Espers and 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-offs A Certain Scientific Railgun (とある科学の超電磁砲) featuring Mikoto Misaka and A Certain Scientific Accelerator (とある科学の一方通行) featuring Accelerator are very popular among fans as well.

Author: Kazuma Kamachi
Illustrator: Kiyotaka Haimura
Published: from 2004
Genre: Fantasy, Action

3. Sword Art Online

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 and 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 and Unital Ring.

The story mainly proceeds in the virtual reality world. Sword Art Online is set in the fictional world 2022 where the advanced VR online game called Sword Art Online is invented. The FullDive technology enables players to immerse themselves in VRMMORPG (Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), which means they can feel all senses for fighting, eating, sleeping and so on there.

The story begins when the players of SAO are trapped in the game world as they are unable to log out including the main character Kirito and heroine Asuna. The current seasons of anime adaptions are highly rated among the fans of the light novel.

Author: Reki Kawahara
Illustrator: abec
Published: from 2009
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy

2. Monogatari Series

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 author Nisio Isin, has been top-rated as both a light novel and a normal novel. There are 20 titles with 26 volumes and 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 and his girl friends and his sisters. The theme of the novel is an aberration called Kaii in Japanese, which is a sort of an evil spirit. The characters are possessed by the aberrations for any reason, and Koyomi tries to 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 Zoku-owarimonogatari) have been adapted into an anime, and fans expects other parts to be made into anime adaptions in the future.

Author: Nisio Isin
Illustrator: Vofan
Published: from 2006
Genre: Fantasy

1. Haruhi Suzumiya Series

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 title The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱), started its publication from 2003. It’s a matter of course that Haruhi Suzumiya Series is ranked 1st in the best light novel list 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 and the other members of SOS 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 to the unconscious force of Haruhi.

The fans were surprised by a unique method of light novels: “Time Loop” meaning characters go back in time to the same past point repeatedly. In the Endless Eight part, Haruhi with the SOS Brigade members experience the same two weeks (from 17th to 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 and anime lovers.

Author: Nagaru Tanigawa
Illustrator: Noizi Ito
Published: from 2003
Genre: 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 to 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!

You can buy and start reading those light novels right now with e-readers like Kindle. If you are interested in the digital books, check out which device is the best to buy in this article!

If you like light novels, it is strongly recommended to enjoy watching anime and reading manga! Here are the best selection lists of anime and manga!

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▼Editor’s Picks▼

The Beginner's Guide To Light Novels

A light novel, also known as Ranobe, is a Japanese novel style, usually no more than 50,000 words long, aimed at young adults and teenagers. These novels typically contain illustrations in anime or manga style and are published in Bunkobon size (A6-105 x 148mm). In terms of American publishing, this length is comparable to novellas.

If you plan to buy these Japanese light novels for yourself or for someone who likes reading them, this post lists some of the best light novels that make an exciting read.

20 Best Light Novels

1. Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest Vol.1

Arifureta is the story of a 17-year-old Hajime Nagumo. He and his classmates are summoned into a fantasy world where they are tasked with saving humankind from extinction. Hajime represents the dark hero in this story. He thinks this is heaven, and it quickly becomes his biggest nightmare. This is one of Japan’s best light novels published in paper books in 2015.

2. Konosuba: God’s Blessing On This Wonderful World! Vol. 1: Oh! My Useless Goddess!

Kazuma Sato is a young boy living in Japan. One day, when he opens his eyes, he witnesses a gorgeous goddess who gives him a chance to be reborn in another world. When he is reborn in a world full of violence and evil, his happy life comes to an end. This is one of the most famous light novels that illustrate Kazuma Sato’s travel in parallel worlds.

3. Overlord: The Men Of The Kingdom Part I, Vol. 5

This story takes place in the Kingdom of Re-Estize, where an evil organization named “Eight Fingers” controls the world of criminals. This dark novel is set in an ancient city and narrates how three men named Sebas, Climb, and Brian pose a threat to the corrupt “Eight Fingers” destroying the kingdom.

4. The Saga Of Tanya The Evil, Vol. 1: Deus lo Vult

Tanya Degurechaff is an orphan, the Devil of the Rhine. She is one of the most outstanding and powerful soldiers in the empire’s life. But she witnesses memories of her previous life, where she was a former salaried worker and lived peacefully in Japan before the war broke out. The story is about Tanya’s struggle to survive in this present world.

5. Goblin Slayer, Vol. 4

In an adventure story, Goblin Slayer and his companions take up a quest from Sword Maiden. Spearman, Goblin Slayer, and Heavy Warrior join hands to create their team, but only time will tell whether they are enough to fight the demons and win in their adventure.

6. So, I’m A Spider, So What? Vol. 10

So, I’m A Spider, So What?, is a Japanese light novel about a girl and her struggle to survive in this world. She has been reborn as a dungeon spider and is exploring her powers and learning new skills. It is one of the best light novels to read, with anime TV series and manga adaptations.

7. Rascal Does Not Dream Of Bunny Girl Senpai

The light novel is about Sakuta Azusagawa and how she experiences unexpected twists and turns when she meets Mai Sakurajima, an actress dressed as a bunny girl, who wanders in the library unnoticed. The story revolves around “Adolescence Syndrome,” a mystery that Sakuta decides to resolve.

8. So I’m a Spider, So What? Vol. 8

Shiraori and company continue their journey to the Demon Kingdom but get trapped in Renxandt Empire, south of the Mystic Mountains range, when an ogre causes destruction, forcing the Renxandt military to intervene. The light novel was released in 2018, and the English version of the novel was released in 2020.

9. Reincarnated As A Sword Vol. 7

When Teacher and Fran board the ship bound for Beatsman Nation, they carry the Beast King’s revelations. Little do they know that they would go through a series of adventures when they enter the sea. This is one of the most impressive light novels on Kindle that makes a worthy pick.

10. Death March To The Parallel World Rhapsody, Vol.8

There are celebrations in the elves of Bolenan Forest as Mia returns safe and sound. Satao and crew enjoy the best hospitality, including luxurious feasts and music, and enter into the world of advanced technology they don’t understand. But their joy is short-lived by the threat of an invading species.

11. Banished From The Hero’s Party, I Have Decided To Live A Quiet Life In The Countryside, Vol. 1

Red was a former member of the Hero Party, a powerful group that aims to save the world from the evil designs of Taraxon, the Raging Demon Lord. Red is banished from the Hero Party, and he decided to start a simple life by opening an apothecary. The story takes a new turn when Rit arrives.

12. Log Horizon: The Beginning OF Another World, Vol. 1

One day, 30,000 Japanese gamers wake up to discover the incredible fantasy world of Elder Tales. There is complete chaos when they experience a life where they witness food with flavors, monsters, and their inability to accept death. Then appear the heroes who take charge to change this world.

13. Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? Vol. 15

Bell and his companions Hestia, Lilly, Welf, Eina, and Lyu overcome the countless dangers of the Dungeon. After overcoming the risks, they grow wiser and stronger. Bell’s thoughts return to the day when everything started, while Hestia remembers the trials after leaving heaven.

14. 86—Eighty-Six, Vol. 1

It has been a long time since the Giadian Empire’s army attacked the Republic of Saint Magnolia. After years of research, the Republic finally proposed its unmanned drone, which turned a unilateral offensive into a proper war. It is claimed to be a war without casualties, but the truth is something else.

15. Re: Zero- Starting Life In Another World, Vol. 14

Emilia rechallenges her past and recalls her childhood events. She finds out that her struggles had just begun. She lives in a dream world full of memories, but now is the time for her to overcome her past life’s pain and regrets.

16. The Eminence In Shadow, Vol. 1

Even in his previous life, Cid’s dream was not to become a protagonist. He maintains a low profile until it is time to reveal to the world that he is a mastermind. Now that he has been reborn in another world, he is ready to set perfect conditions to realize his dream to the greatest extent. With an overly active imagination, he starts recruiting people to his organization and fabricates a story about an evil cult that might turn out to be real in the end.

17. High School DxD, Vol. 1

Issei begins to believe that all his fantasies become a reality when a lovely girl proposes to him, but this girl stabs him on the first date. He is saved by Rias Gremonry, the most beautiful girl in school. Issei becomes a demon and makes her his servant.

18. That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime, Vol. 10

After Tempest Founders Festival’s great success, Advanced Dungeon has become a popular tourist attraction in Tempest. Rimuru’s next goal is to join the Western Council, but an influential person works in the background and does not want someone as strong as Rimuru.

19. Failure Frame: I Became The Strongest And Annihilated Everything With Low-Level Spells: Vol. 1

The world’s resident goddess has summoned Mimori Touka and his classmates to serve as heroes. Except for Mimori, most of the students showcase some exciting skills as they arrive. The goddess then sends Mimori to a dungeon where there is no coming back if one goes. The rest of the story is about Mimori trying to survive.

20. Suppose A Kid From The Last Dungeon Boonies Moved To A Started Town, Vol. 1

Lloyd has always dreamt of serving the country by becoming a soldier in the royal capital, but everyone thinks of him as the weakest lad. To their surprise, everyone in their town is blessed with some powers, and so is Lloyd. The story talks about the incredible powers possessed by Lloyd that make him an exceptional person.

Light novels are a popular choice of fiction in Japan. Through the best light novels listed here, you can now explore a world full of magical characters with incredible powers. Pick one or more to get a taste of this genre of writing. If you like one, we’re sure you will like all of them.

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