Light novels are incredibly popular in Japan and are usually aimed at teenage audiences in middle and high school.
As a result, similar to manga aimed at such audiences, some light novels have seen incredible success over the years!
Some light novels become so popular, in fact, that they are often later adapted into anime television series and feature-length films!
But of the millions of light novels available on the market in Japan, it can be difficult to find the absolute best of the best, and the ones that will best capture the imaginations of readers.
We’re willing to bet that you are reading this article right now because you want to discover some of the best light novels that are deserving of your attention, right?
Well, make sure that you keep reading down below because we have gone through and cataloged 10 of the very best light novels that you won’t be able to put down!
1. The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya
This is one of the most successful light novels ever produced and even spawned a whole franchise of sequel books that further explore the popular characters and the strange circumstances that they find themselves in.
The Haruhi Suzumiya series of novels follows the exploits of the SOS Brigade, a high-school club of friends that explore and inspect strange goings on in the world around them.
What helps the series to stand out is the fact that the titular character Haruhi Suzumiya is a powerful alien with the power to destroy the world if she becomes bored or upset.
This series proved popular enough to receive a two-season anime series and even a feature-length sequel film to said anime series!
Check it out to understand the hype for yourself!
This is one of the most popular romantic light novels on this list, and this is thanks to how well realized the central characters and their blooming romance are.
The characters in this series of 10 novels are so well fleshed out, and by the time the series wraps up in its tenth volume, you’ll find yourself totally in love with the characters, as if they were your own friends.
A word of warning, however, these slice-of-life novels are so entertaining and romantic, that you will definitely have a hard time putting them down as you read!
Again, Toradora proved so popular that it was even adapted into an acclaimed anime series, which is also worth checking out.
3. Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon?
This story takes place in fantasy in which people live in dungeons populated by powerful and frightening monsters, directly underneath the domain of uncaring and unfeeling gods.
This humorous premise easily gives way to some of the novel’s best moments, and helps to make its central romantic plot even more powerful!
The juxtaposition between romantic material and monster slaying in the depths of a dangerous dungeon really helps to create a light novel that is incredibly fun to read, and full of unique personality.
And this is to say nothing about its hilariously long and stretched-out title that has made it incredibly popular across the world.
Why not check it out for yourself?
4. That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime
With a title like that, how could you not want to dive right into this fantasy isekai series of light novels?
This totally hilarious series has gone on to become a cultural juggernaut in the world of light novels. It follows the adventures of Satoru Mikami, as he ventures through his new life as a slime!
But how did he end up as a slime? Upon dying after being attacked by a robber in his previous life, Satoru wakes up to find himself having been reincarnated as a slime, one of the least powerful creatures in the new fantasy world he has suddenly found himself inhabiting!
We loved how hilarious this series was, but also how tense it proved to be at points! What can Satoru possibly do to survive as an underpowered slime in this new world?
You’ll have to read it to find out!
5. Spice And Wolf
Spice And Wolf is another awesome light novel that also takes place in a new and imagined fantasy world, and is focused on the character of Kraft Lawrence, a trading merchant who travels from town to town selling his own goods.
Kraft, one day, finds himself meeting a strange wolf-human girl named Holo, who was once praised as the god of harvest.
Holo is desperate to return to her home world of Yoitsu, so she joins Kraft as he journeys from town to town, selling goods, as they slowly get closer to her home.
This series differs from other fantasy stories, because it is less focused on magical combat, and is instead focused on trade and commerce, which may sound boring on the surface, but is actually incredibly gripping!
6. No Game No Life
No Game No Life is another Isekai story that sees protagonists Sora and Shiro, a brother-and-sister pair who are both incredibly gifted gamers that suddenly find themselves transported to a world that is entirely governed by games.
War and conflict do not exist in this new world, and all potential conflicts are decided by games.
This creates an exciting opportunity for our protagonists to show off their skills, and also a great way to explore an exciting and vibrant new world of interesting characters and rules.
We know that you will have a great time reading this series, as it is so fun and vibrant.
7. Sword Art Online
No list of popular light novels could ever truly be complete without a mention of Sword Art Online. This series has been adapted into numerous anime adaptations, each of which has taken the world by storm.
The story is rather simple, but its simplicity is easily its main hook. The story takes place in a virtual reality game that allows players to experience all sensations that their characters experience in the game.
However, one day, the players find themselves unable to log out and deactivate the game without dying in the real world!
This creates a desperate game for survival within the virtual world that makes this novel incredibly tense to read!
8. Kino’s Journey
This is a long-beloved classic within the world of light novels. The story follows Kino, something of a loner within their fantasy world who is joined only by their trusty companion Hermes, who is a talking bike!
As Kino explores her world, she occasionally stops off at towns and cities and gets to know the locals and the politics that have taken hold in the area.
This creates a great sense of a lived-in world and makes every volume of the series so exciting.
Within each volume, readers are invited further into Kino’s life, and her mental state, as they form a bond with the protagonist of the book. Check them out for yourself now!
9. Classroom Of The Elite
The world-building in Classroom Of The Elite is totally second-to-none. It follows a speculative future school in which students must compete to become top students and enter the top class of the school: Class A.
However, getting into Class A is no easy feat, and this series explores as protagonists Kiyotaka Ayanokouji and Suzune Horikita fight their way up the ranks to enter Class A.
It’s surprisingly gripping and perfectly aimed at middle and high school students. You owe it to yourself to check it out!
10. 86 Eighty-Six
In a world that is divided into 85 distinct districts, being relegated to the mysterious 86th district is a certain death sentence.
Those that live in the 86th district are considered to be subhuman, but our protagonist Lena Milize, a member of the Colorata army decides to stand up for the rights of those in the 86th district, which ignites a series of books full of political intrigue and class-conflict.
If you are a fan of the Hunger Games franchise, then we can guarantee that you will have a great time with these books. They capture a very similar vibe, and are both action-packed, and incredibly politically biting!
To Wrap Up
Considering just how many light novels there are out there for you to read, we’re not surprised that you turned to this list to help you to narrow down your choices!
We hope that this list has proven useful and enlightening, and that you now feel equipped to dive right into the world of light novels to find your next favorite fictional world or group of characters.