What are the best light novels to get started with? The world of light novels is rich and diverse, but can be quite intimidating to newcomers. Fear not, because we here at Honey’s Anime have heard your plea, and created a list of the best beginner-friendly light novels!
From fluffy rom-coms to VRMMOs, this list has a little for everyone, but most importantly, these are all easy-to-access and excellent entries into the world of light novels. Join us today as we discuss the Top 10 Starter Light Novels (Updated for 2022)!
10. Itai no wa Iya nanode Bogyo-Ryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu (Bofuri: I Don't Want to Get Hurt, So I'll Max Out My Defense)
- Authors: Yuumikan (Story), Koin (Art)
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
- Volumes: 5+
- Published: April 2021 — Present
Kicking off our list is a gentle introduction to the VRMMO genre of light novels. Popularized by the likes of Sword Art Online, this genre often sees characters diving into so-realistic-it-feels-real game worlds to tackle bosses, make friends, and maybe question the distinction between “virtual” and “real” life.
It’s all smiles and kawaii goodness in Itai no wa Iya nanode Bogyo-Ryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu (Bofuri: I Don't Want to Get Hurt, So I'll Max Out My Defense), so you won’t need to worry about getting in over your head. Main character Maple is an adorable cinnamon roll who stacks all her points into her Defense stat, giving her godly defensive abilities as she journeys with her friends in a fun and mostly-wholesome virtual world.
9. Watashi no Oshi wa Akuyaku Reijou (I’m In Love With the Villainess)
- Authors: Inori (Story), Hanagata (Art)
- Genres: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Romance, Shoujo Ai
- Volumes: 4+
- Published: September 2020 — present
Another common genre of light novels is the “otome isekai” genre, sometimes called “shoujo isekai” thanks to its predominantly female-led and female-oriented stories. When an ordinary office worker with an obsession for dating games (otome games) finds herself reincarnated inside the world of her favorite fantasy, she ditches the boys and goes straight for the evil villainess!
A fantasy yuri, Watashi no Oshi wa Akuyaku Reijou (I’m In Love With the Villainess) lovingly walks the road between drama and romance, with a healthy splash of political intrigue and some excellent magic battles. With a nicely fleshed-out cast of characters, this is definitely an easily accessible otome isekai light novel.
8. Shokei Shoujo no Ikirumichi (The Executioner and Her Way of Life)
- Authors: Satou Mato (Story), Nilitsu (Art)
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Shoujo Ai
- Volumes: 4+
- Published: March 2021 — present
Sometimes known as Virgin Road, you might have seen the recent anime of Shokei Shoujo no Ikirumichi (The Executioner and Her Way of Life) — so now read the excellent source material and go beyond the anime! It’s an isekai from a different perspective; Executioner Menou’s role is to exterminate “otherworlders” from the mysterious nation of Japan, preventing these super-powered summons from going berserk and wreaking havoc on the world.
Menou’s journey is complicated by growing too close to her target, the energetic and air-headed Akari, while diving deeper into the sordid secrets of the church and master she serves. Although the story might sound dark, the writing is thrilling and the magic is clearly laid out, making this an excellent starter light novel for fantasy fans!
7. Supai Kyoushitsu (Spy Classroom)
- Authors: Takemachi (Story), Tomari (Art)
- Genres: Action, Comedy, Harem, Mystery, Thriller
- Volumes: 2+
- Published: August 2021 — present
We’ve talked a bit recently about the genius behind Spy Classroom’s story, but don’t let our critical analysis put you off — this action-thriller is superbly translated and written, making it incredibly accessible. Follow along with teenage spy Lily as she and her six other classmates attempt an “impossible mission” to protect their nation from a bio-weapon.
Like a combination of Spy x Family and Assassination Classroom, this series shrouds itself in layers of mystery, with an engaging backdrop of a pseudo-post-World War 2 setting. The girls are all unique, with great personalities, and the beautiful illustrations really bring them to life. Definitely a big recommendation for anyone wanting to start on action light novels!
6. Dungeon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatte Iru Darou ka (Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?)
- Authors: Oomori Fujino (Story), Yasuda Suzuhito (Art)
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Ecchi, Fantasy, Harem, Romance, Seinen
- Volumes: 16+
- Published: December 2014 — present
Perhaps better known by its shorthand DanMachi, this super-successful anime and manga got its start in the humble pages of a light novel. Dungeon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatte Iru Darou ka (Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?) follows Bell, a wannabe adventurer saddled with an energetic goddess.
In his adventures in the labyrinth beneath Orario, Bell gets tougher thanks to some unique abilities, and learns all about friendship and loyalty, with some ecchi moments along the way to add much-needed humor. If you loved the anime and wanted to see how Bell’s story began, we highly recommend picking up the light novels!
5. Seishun Buta Yarou (Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai)
- Authors: Kamoshida Hajime (Story), Mizoguchi Keiji (Art)
- Genres: Comedy, Drama, Mystery, Psychological, Romance, School Life, Slice of Life
- Volumes: 6+
- Published: April 2020 — present
Perhaps one of the denser light novels on our list, the Rascal Does Not Dream...series of novels have a sincere depth to them that’s lacking from some of the other entries on our list. Focused around the “puberty syndrome” affecting main character Azusagawa Sakuta’s friends and sister, Seishun Buta Yarou is an introspective look at high school, adolescence, and the importance of childhood.
While that might sound intimidating if you’re new to light novels, it’s certainly more accessible than something like Yahari Ore no Seishun Rabukome wa Machigatte Iru. (My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong as I Expected). If you watched the anime of Rascal Does Dream, then please note that the English light novel releases have only just reached the final part of the anime — however, there’s much more depth that the anime skipped over, so they’re definitely worth a read to get better characterization.
4. Yujinchara no Ore ga Motemakuru Wakenaidaro (There’s No Way a Side Character Like Me Can Be Popular, Right?)
- Authors: Sekaiichi (Story), Harumare (Art)
- Genres: Ecchi, Comedy, Harem, Romance, School Life
- Volumes: 3+
- Published: March 2020 — present
Who doesn’t love a good fake-romance-turned-real-romance? In a modern-spin on a classic like Toradora!, Yujinchara no Ore ga Motemakuru Wakenaidaro (There’s No Way a Side Character Like Me Can Be Popular, Right?) sets up grumpy-faced Tomoki Yuuki with this adorable and energetic first-year high schooler, Touka. Yuuki agrees to become Touka’s fake boyfriend as a favor to her brother, and to keep her out of the clutches of the rest of the school’s boys.
Of course, this leads exactly where you’re imagining — super-annoying but super-cute Touka is actually in love with Yuuki, but of course, he’s too dense to figure that out. Throw in a long-lost childhood friend, a few love triangles, and more school life drama than you can poke a stick at, and you’ll see that this is a really accessible series that’s perfect for light novel beginners!
3. Otome Game no Hametsu Flag shika nai Akuyaku Reijou ni Tensei shite shimatta (My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!)
- Authors: Yamaguchi Satoru (Story), Hidaka Nami (Art)
- Genres: Comedy, Fantasy, Harem, Romance, Shoujo, Slice of Life
- Volumes: 10+
- Published: November 2018 — present
Remember our earlier recommendation for otome isekai novels? Well, My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! is probably one of the best-known and best-executed otome isekai stories! Whether you’ve watched the stellar anime or read the manga (drawn and written by the novels’ own illustrator, no less), you’ll love seeing “Bakarina” and her air-headed attempts to avoid her demise in novel format.
Awakened to her “past life” at a young age, Katarina Claes realizes she’s not actually a noble’s daughter, but has reincarnated as the villainess of her favorite fantasy otome game, “Fortune Lover”. When she turns 17, she’ll meet a horrible demise as the game’s villain, so she sets out to make sure that never happens! This brilliant comedic fantasy is truly a fantastic entry point to light novels, and definitely one of our top picks!
2. Mamahaha no Tsurego ga Motokano datta (My Stepmom’s Daughter is My Ex)
- Authors: Kamashiro Kyousuke (Story), TakayaKi (Art)
- Genres: Comedy, Drama, Ecchi, Romance, School Life, Shounen
- Volumes: 2+
- Published: February 2022 — present
Don’t let the title or premise turn you off of a truly fantastic rom-com in the form of Mamahaha no Tsurego ga Motokano datta (My Stepmom’s Daughter is My Ex). Irido Mizuto and Ayai Yume never wanted to see each other again after their middle-school romance ended in crushed hearts, but when their single parents remarry, they find themselves sharing a roof and a surname!
With lingering emotions still bubbling under the surface, Mizuto and Yume’s rivalry as step-siblings and former partners leads to all sorts of hilarious drama and steamy tension! The anime adaptation of this new series just got announced, so check it out before you watch the new trailer!
1. Otonari no Tenshi-sama ni Itsunomanika Dame Ningen ni Sareteita Ken (The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten)
- Authors: Saeki-san (Story), Kazutake Hazano (Art)
- Genres: Romance, Comedy, School Life, Slice of Life
- Volumes: 3+
- Published: December 2020 — present
There’s nothing easier on the eyes (or mind!) than a soft romantic-comedy. With an anime adaptation coming in 2023, you can get ahead by reading Otonari no Tenshi-sama ni Itsunomanika Dame Ningen ni Sareteita Ken (The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten) early. This beautiful rom-com stars Amane and Mahiru, two first-year-high school neighbors who enter each other’s lives through a chance meeting.
The relationship between these two young lovebirds is stunningly cute, even though they both refuse to accept their feelings for each other for quite a few novels! This slice-of-life is almost saccharinely sweet, but if you’ve wanted to get started on romance light novels, this is our number 1 choice!
Light novels are one of our favorite forms of media from Japan, offering more depth than anime or manga, and allowing your own imagination to take the reins. With more dialogue and more intricate descriptions, even some of our favorite shows come to life better on the page thanks to the original creator’s vision.
If you’re new to reading light novels and want to know what novels to get started with in 2022, we hope this list has given you some series to check out! If you have your own recommendations, drop a comment below, and as always, thanks for reading!
Light novels—which are usually where anime are adapted from—come in a slew of varieties to choose from. It can be overwhelming to walk into a book store or shop online to find a light novel series to begin with. Honestly, even those who are avid light novel readers—like us here at Honey’s Anime—sometimes debate what series to start next. If you’re new to light novels or just need a good starting point, then you’re going to want to read this article. Today, we will end your frustrations at finding a good starting point for your first foray into light novels.
Our team here at Honey’s Anime went to work on picking out some of the simplest and yet still enjoyable, light novels to read for a beginner. After some debates on which would be the best, we settled with ten light novel series perfect for a newbie in the light novel world. Our goal is to make the frustration of finding a good starter light novel go away with today’s article and we know many of you will appreciate support. Welcome, everyone, to our Top 10 Starter Light Novels recommendation list!
10. Toaru Majutsu no Index (A Certain Magical Index)
- Authors: Kamachi, Kazuma- Haimura, Kiyotaka
- Genres: Action, Comedy, Fantasy, Magic, Sci-Fi, Super Power, Supernatural
- Volumes: 22
- Published: Apr, 2004- Oct, 2010
Toaru Majutsu no Index follows a down on his luck student named Kamijyo Touma. In a world filled with magic, psychic forces and various other powers, Touma doesn’t have any of these skills but instead, has a unique power called Imagine Breaker. With his right hand, Touma can negate anything thrown at him in terms of powers but equally, this power has a side effect that cripples Touma’s life. Touma’s right hand also removes all of his luck and thus, he literally always walking around worried about where bad luck will strike next. Touma’s luck doesn’t improve when he meets a young girl on the run from The Church of England for containing powerful tomes all within her head! What will Touma do to keep this girl named Index safe from a powerful organization!?
Beginning our Top 10 Start Light Novels list, we look at Toaru Majutsu no Index from author Kamachi Kazuma. If Toaru Majutsu no Index sounds familiar to you, there’s a reason for that. Originally before being a hit anime series Toaru Majutsu no Index was a light novel series! While we here at Honey’s Anime loved Toaru Majutsu no Index’s anime, the light novel series is easily way more in depth and enjoyable for someone who loves light novels. We can’t recommend Toaru Majutsu no Index any more for those beginning their adventure into light novels for the first time!
9. Death Note Another Note: Los Angeles BB Renzoku Satsujin Jiken (Death Note Another Note: Los Angeles BB Murder Cases)
- Authors: Nisioisin- Obata, Takeshi
- Genres: Mystery
- Volumes: 1
- Published: Aug, 2006
Death Note Another Note: Los Angeles BB Renzoku Satsujin Jiken takes place as a prequel to the Death Note series. Following L when he was solving a case in America, we learn of his involvement in chasing a clever killer that has evaded police for some time. Even with L’s skills, he finds he needs assistance and gets it in the form of a FBI agent called Naomi Misora. Can the two stop this killer before he strikes again? Enter the world of L from a story untold in Death Note Another Note: Los Angeles BB Renzoku Satsujin Jiken.
Death Note Another Note: Los Angeles BB Renzoku Satsujin Jiken is one of those light novels we recommend to fans of the series and L, especially. With only one volume, author Nisioisin does an absolutely stunning job at depicting L’s story that was never really explained in the anime or manga series. Death Note Another Note: Los Angeles BB Renzoku Satsujin Jiken is also a short book—176 pages to be exact—meaning any mystery light novel fan or mystery fan in general can binge read Death Note Another Note: Los Angeles BB Renzoku Satsujin Jiken in one sitting. Do you love Death Note and need more? Then you can’t pass up Death Note Another Note: Los Angeles BB Renzoku Satsujin Jiken!
8. Gakusen Toshi Asterisk (The Asterisk War)
- Authors: Miyazaki, Yuu- okiura
- Genres: Action, Comedy, Ecchi, Fantasy, Romance, School, Sci-Fi, Harem, Supernatural
- Volumes: 12
- Published: Sept, 2012- Present
Amagari Ayato has just arrived at The Academy City Rikka and is beginning his search for his sister who disappeared here. This academy is known for producing some of the strongest warriors known as Genestella and Ayato knows his sister was once here as well. Harnessing his powers, Ayato plans on using the Ser-Veresta—powerful weapons who only some can wield—to win the Phoenix Festa tournament and unearth what happened to his sister. However, Ayato has a bigger problem first to deal with. Somehow Ayato must deal with the scary girl named Julis who he just angered his first day on campus…
If you’re someone who loves ecchi and harem anime, then you have most likely seen Gakusen Toshi Asterisk. However, like many of these starter light novels on our list, Gakusen Toshi Asterisk was first and foremost a light novel series. Filled with action, narrative, and tons of fanservice from the various ecchi images within the volumes, Gakusen Toshi Asterisk is a lot of fun and pretty easy to pick up and read. If you don’t believe an ecchi harem anime can be well represented by its original light novel then check out Gakusen Toshi Asterisk. Trust us, Gakusen Toshi Asterisk will make you a believer.
7. No Game No Life
- Authors: Kamiya, Yuu
- Genres: Comedy, Ecchi, Fantasy, Supernatural
- Volumes: 10
- Published: Apr, 2012- Present
Brother and sister Sora and Shiro might seem like just ordinary NEETs, but that’s because the duo isn’t known for their secret skills. Together online, Sora and Shiro go by the username Blank and are known as the best gamers ever. One day when they are challenged to a simple game of chess by an unknown source, the siblings find themselves transported to a new world. Here in this fantasy world, if someone wants something then they play a game for it and bet equal terms for the winnings. Sora and Shiro are literally now in heaven as they challenge this new world’s God by showing their gaming prowess.
No Game No Life by author Kamiya Yuu is short, sweet and perfect for beginners. While No Game No Life’s story might seem weird and outlandish—though most isekai works sound like this—it’s actually just a simple narrative that is fun and comedic. No Game No Life was a sure entry in our Top 10 Starter Light Novels recommendation list as we know it’s just right for those unsure where to begin with a light novel series. Just be forewarned, folks. No Game No Life might not be good for younger readers as it does have some sexual content here and there.
6. Utsuro no Hako to Zero no Maria (The Empty Box and Zeroth Maria)
- Authors: Mikage, Eiji- Tetsuo
- Genres: Action, Mystery, Drama, Horror, Romance, School, Supernatural, Psychological, Thriller
- Volumes: 7
- Published: Jan, 2009- Jun, 2015
While some might lament a boring and ordinary life style, not all see this as an ultimatum. For Kazuki Hoshino, his normal life has been something he cherishes and loves greatly. Known to just hang out with friends and go to school, Kazuki prays his days stay like this forever. Unfortunately, those peaceful days come to an abrupt halt when a new transfer student comes to his class. Named Maria Otonashi, this girl will lead Kazuki’s life into a spiral of chaos from henceforth…
Now we already know some of you readers out there who don’t like ecchi or comedy would argue with some of the light novels chosen for our list. We heard your cries ahead of time, folks, and thus, respond with a light novel far off from comedy despite how it might come across. Known as Utsuro no Hako to Zero no Maria, this series delves into psychological horror and drama with a tinge of romance for good measure. Kazuki’s life becomes extraordinary when he begins to learn about the realities he once thought were normal are far from it, and it’s intriguing to witness his dilemma as Utsuro no Hako to Zero no Maria unfolds. If you want a dark but still pleasant mystery/horror light novel series—that isn’t too long—then we recommend Utsuro no Hako to Zero no Maria.
- Authors: Mizushiro, Mizuki- Namanie
- Genres: Comedy, Ecchi, Romance, School, Harem, Psychological
- Volumes: 6
- Published: Feb, 2013- Aug, 2014
Kyousuke Kamiya might be a tough guy and isn’t afraid to let his fist do the talking, but he isn’t a killer. More so, Kamiya just fights to protect others like his precious sister. Kamiya’s world does a 360 one day when he’s accused of killing 12 delinquents. Instead of being sent to jail, Kamiya is sent to a new school called the Purgatorium School of Rehabilitation. While this might seem like an ideal place in lieu of jail or prison, Kamiya is about to learn this school is filled with others who have actually killed people…
The beauty of light novels is that often these series continue on for quite some time. It’s not uncommon to see a light novel series end up with easily over 10 or 20 volumes before its completion. The problem with this though is that for some, this might be a daunting task to complete a lot of volumes. That’s why if you need a short 6 volume read filled with comedy, romance, ecchi and just a bit of drama then you’ll enjoy Psycome. Then you get to question whether you are envious of Kamiya being in a school filled with hot/cute girls or feel bad seeing these girls are violet and most likely killers.
4. Zettai naru Isolator (The Isolator)
- Authors: Kawahara, Reki- Shimeji
- Genres: Sci-Fi, Super Power
- Volumes: 4
- Published: Jun, 2014- Present
Unknown to the general public in the summer of 2019, aliens hit the planet but didn’t come in the way most predicted. Instead, these alien beings—called Third Eyes—took root in chosen people across the world and gave them supernatural powers and abilities. One of these chosen was Utsugi Minoru, a 17-year-old student who has lived a rather isolated life by choice. With his new powers, Minoru will join forces with others like him to stop beings who wish to abuse their powers and hurt others. All Minoru wants in return for his assistance is to have his dark memories of a past incident erased forever.
Here at Honey’s Anime, we’ve heard complaints that people don’t like starting into light novel series that have been going on for too long. As odd as that might sound, we completely understand. That’s why if you’re new to light novels but want a series that is only at its 4th volume, you’ll enjoy Zettai naru Isolator. This sci-fi themed story penned by Kawahara Reki—of Sword Art Online fame—is simple to read and each volume is short so you can catch up quickly. Zettai naru Isolator is currently only at 3 volumes in the west so far. However, the 4th volume is coming and all we can say is we’re thoroughly excited! Catch up to Zettai naru Isolator now while the series is relatively new and not too long.
3. Hataraku Maou-sama! (The Devil Is a Part-Timer!)
- Authors: Wagahara, Satoshi
- Genres: Comedy, Demons, Fantasy, Romance, Supernatural
- Volumes: 12
- Published: Feb, 2011- Present
It all began in the world known as Ente Isla where the powerful Demon Lord, Satan ruled. Usually, nothing could defeat the Demon Lord Satan but one day a hero named Emilia rose up and forced Satan to retreat. Entering a portal, Satan alongside his servant—Alsiel—were successful in their retreat but found themselves in a very unfamiliar location. Soon the two learned they were in modern-day Tokyo and now in dire need of money, shelter and power. Thus, the once powerful demon lord removes his name and changes it to Maou Sadao with the proclamation of ruling over this new world. First step, to rule as a fast food chain worker!
As ridiculous as Hataraku Maou-sama! sounds—and we do agree it sounds outrageous—this light novel series penned by author Wagahara Satoshi is downright hilarious and extremely simple to read. Following Maou’s journey to become the leader of a fast food franchise is just so silly but that is the appeal of Hataraku Maou-sama! as a whole. Hataraku Maou-sama! also has a nice number of other genres in it besides just pure comedy which keeps the series from becoming stale. While Hataraku Maou-sama! is still ongoing—as of this article—there are quite a few volumes released in the US meaning you can catch up slowly and at your own pace. Are you a fan of the anime for Hataraku Maou-sama!? Then we also recommend the light novel series for you as well!
2. Kimi no Na wa. (Your Name.)
- Authors: Shinkai, Makoto
- Genres: Drama, Romance, Supernatural
- Volumes: 1
- Published: Jun, 2016
Kimi no Na wa. follows the story of two souls that are about to get very personal with one another. Taki Tachibana, a young boy from Tokyo, one day awakens inside the body of a girl named Mitsuha Miyamizu, who hails from the country. While Taki is in her body, Mitsuha is in Taki’s body and the two find themselves randomly living each other’s lives on random days. Despite the difficulties at first, both Taki and Mitsuha begin to acclimate to this bizarre situation and even learn more about each other in the process. However, unknown to the two of them, this strange power is happening for a reason and it might even save the life of not only one of them but a whole populous as well.
Kimi no Na wa.—or Your Name. in English—is a movie that swept the world and truly boomed in popularity back in 2017. Ironically enough, Makoto Shinkai’s work was also adapted into a short 1 volume light novel around the same time for readers to enjoy. What’s even better about Kimi no Na wa. is that the story gets a different spin than the movie—in some respects—all within a short read. We personally were able to finish Kimi no Na wa. in several hours and that makes it a perfect read for those starting off with light novels. While the light novel of Kimi no Na wa. might not be a perfect version compared to the movie, we still think it was a solid light novel from start to finish.
1. Sword Art Online
- Authors: Kawahara, Reki- abec
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Game, Romance, Sci-Fi
- Volumes: 20
- Published: Apr, 2009- Present
Imagine playing your favorite video game without a controller and experiencing it all first hand. Wouldn’t that experience be amazing? For many, a new game called Sword Art Online sounded amazing as it was the first fully immersive VRMMORPG ever to be released. Just like thousands of other players, Kazuto Kirigaya put on his NerveGear—the headset that allowed the player to enter the world of Sword Art Online—and was happy to see the world of Aincrad in a way no other game world had ever been seen before. Unfortunately, this video game would become a survival game when Kazuto—online name Kirito—would soon learn that all players within Sword Art Online are trapped and if they die in game…they die in the real world…
Whether you love or hate the Sword Art Online anime series—which people have very different opinions on it—the light novel series is the best place for a beginner hands down. With most volumes of Sword Art Online being no more than 200+ pages and filled with various images sewn in, Sword Art Online is a fun light novel series that adheres to any age group. We are still reading the English releases of Sword Art Online and have yet to dislike any one volume as they are just that enjoyable. If you consider yourself a starter to the wonderful world of light novels, your best bet is to start reading Sword Art Online. You can also read the Sword Art Online Progressive series—which is more about the first floors of Kirito’s journey—if you need even more Sword Art Online in your life.
Light novels are books perfect for almost any skill level out there. Even if you’re a slow or fast reader, light novels are usually less than 200 pages meaning you can invest some time into one and be ready to move onto the next within a fraction of the time spent with other novels out there. We hope our list of the Top 10 Starter Light Novels helped you find a good starting point for your adventure into the light novel world. If you think it did, comment to let us know down below and also share which series you’re planning to read first. Remember to get stuck to our hive for even more recommendation lists—just like this one—courtesy of us here at Honey’s Anime.