Currently, those at the forefront of pop culture are not only turning to anime and manga but also to light novels. Light novels were originally written for a relatively young audience and anime enthusiasts, but the quality of their content has become incredibly high year by year. Many light novels have been adapted into anime or manga, becoming the source of such content. In other words, they can be considered a medium where you can encounter exciting content the earliest.
As we will show you some in the list of the best light novels to read in 2024, popular anime like Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation, Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World, and The Eminence in Shadow all originated as light novels. With countless new titles written every year, many people might wonder which light novels they should read now.
Here, we will introduce the best light novels to read right now, ranging from those that have been adapted into anime to those that are not yet globally renowned but possess assured quality. We have also considered the availability in English as one of our selection criteria, so feel free to try reading them. The selection of the following light novels also takes into account the latest rankings from the authoritative light novel guidebook Kono Light Novel ga Sugoi! published by Takarajimasha.
Let’s embark on an adventure into the world of the latest light novels!
1. Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation
Looking across all genres, Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation (無職転生 〜異世界行ったら本気だす〜) is undoubtedly the best light novel in recent times and should be included in the 2024 reading list. This masterpiece of isekai fantasy is not only perfect for those who have come to love it through its anime adaptation but also the most suitable light novel for beginners who have never read one before. It originally started serialization on the Shousetsuka ni Naro website in 2012 and concluded with its 26th volume in 2022. The anime adaptation, which began in 2021, gained popularity due to its high quality, and many viewers who were curious about the continuation have started reading the light novel.
This epic story focuses on the life of Rudeus Greyrat, a 34-year-old jobless man despairing of life who is reincarnated as a baby in an isekai world. Initially, it’s portrayed as a simple coming-of-age story of a boy protagonist, which is very interesting in itself. However, as he grows up and starts traveling the world, he encounters and parts with various races. The multiple attractive heroines each have a different kind of involvement with Rudeus, which is also fascinating. It’s also interesting to read as a battle story where he fights against simply strong enemies. In any case, the story unfolds so widely that the 26 volumes do not feel long.
From June 2023, a spin-off title Mushoku Tensei: Dasoku-hen (Redundancy) has been published, which is the story after the main series ends.
△Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation is now available on Audible, too!△
2. Chitose Is in the Ramune Bottle
In recent years, a popular light novel that has emerged is Chitose Is in the Ramune Bottle (千歳くんはラムネ瓶のなか), which achieved the number one ranking in the famous light novel guidebook Kono Light Novel ga Sugoi! in both 2021 and 2022, and is now receiving what can be described as a hall-of-fame treatment. Although it’s definitely on the verge of being adapted into an anime, there are still people around the world who may not know about it, so I’d like to introduce it here. The genre is a high school-focused everyday life romantic comedy, created by author Hiromu and illustrator Raemz since 2019. Chitose Is in the Ramune Bottle has already had 9 volumes published.
The main character of this light novel is a high school student named Saku Chitose, who is what you’d call a “Riaju.” To put it simply, “Riaju (real-life fulfilling)” refers to someone who leads a fulfilling life in the real world and has rich human relationships. Saku is handsome, intelligent, and has excellent athletic abilities. The story begins when he and his group of friends, who belong to the top of the school caste system, are asked by a teacher to help rehabilitate a shut-in student (depicted as the opposite of them). While many works feature protagonists who are underachievers with some kind of complex, Chitose Is in the Ramune Bottle boldly portrays a character who reigns at the top of the school caste system.
3. Alya Sometimes Hides Her Feelings in Russian
Alya Sometimes Hides Her Feelings in Russian (時々ボソッとロシア語でデレる隣のアーリャさん), featuring a silver-haired beauty of Russian-Japanese descent as its heroine, has been attracting a lot of attention in the light novel community in recent years and is expected to gain even more recognition with its anime adaptation in 2024. It was originally published as a short story on the user-generated novel publishing website Shousetsuka ni Naro starting from May 2020 and was later released as a physical light novel series in 2021. The author is SunSunSun, with illustrations by Momoco. As of February 2024, 8 volumes have been released.
The main attraction of this light novel is undoubtedly its heroine, Alya, who is one of the most popular female characters in light novels as a whole. She struggles to be honest with the protagonist, Masachika Kuze, often behaving coldly towards him, but her true feelings for him are expressed in Russian. Ironically, what she doesn’t know yet is that Masachika perfectly understands Russian.
Alya Sometimes Hides Her Feelings in Russian is also one of the most anticipated new anime of 2024, scheduled to air in the spring season.
4. 86 -Eighty Six-
The title that continues to be one of the best light novels to read this year is 86 -Eighty Six- (86-エイティシックス-). This military sci-fi light novel series has been highly regarded since its publication in 2017, and its popularity skyrocketed with the anime adaptation in 2021 and 2022. Written by Asato Asato and illustrated by Shirabii, the series has already published up to 12 volumes, with the spin-off short story collection Alter.1: Occasionally Youthful Reaper being first published in 2023. The work has been gaining depth year by year.
The story is set in the fictional Republic of San Magnolia, which maintains peace within its borders while at war with the neighboring Giadian Empire. This peace is secretly supported by the lowest class of people called the Eighty Six, who are relegated to the corners of the nation. They are forced to fight on the front lines in combat machines called Juggernauts. It’s only a matter of time before they lose their lives in the intense battles, yet they live their limited everyday lives and head to the battlefield. The leader of this group, Shinei Nouzen, and the other Eighty Six people try to live their lives with dignity despite having no hope in sight. While there are not many light novels with such serious themes, 86 -Eighty Six- is an unfinished masterpiece that can be called a must-read now.
5. Ascendance of a Bookworm
Ascendance of a Bookworm (本好きの下剋上 ～司書になるためには手段を選んでいられません～) is a highly popular isekai fantasy light novel series. It began as a web novel on the novel posting site Shosetsuka ni Naro in 2013, authored by Miya Kazuki. The physical light novel series started publication with illustrations by You Shiina in 2015 and spectacularly concluded in 2023. Including one spin-off and two collections of short stories, the series comprises a total of 36 volumes.
The narrative of Ascendance of a Bookworm is divided into five parts: Daughter of a Soldier, Apprentice Shrine Maiden, Adopted Daughter of an Archduke, Founder of the Royal Academy’s So-Called Library Committee, and Avatar of a Goddess. The series has been well-received in its various adaptations, including a manga adaptation that started in 2015 and an anime adaptation that began in 2019, both of which have significantly contributed to the series’ acclaim.
The story’s overarching plot is simple: a woman named Urano Motosu, who loved books dearly, is reincarnated as a young girl named Myne in a primitive world where even books do not exist. It’s a tale of her efforts to create books in this world. However, in this world where even paper, a crucial material for books, is a luxury, she must overcome the feudal system and other harsh medieval conditions using her knowledge from her previous life in the modern world.
△Ascendance of a Bookworm is now available on Audible, too!△
6. The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten
In the past year, the most successful anime adaptation from a light novel has been The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten (お隣の天使様にいつの間にか駄目人間にされていた件). The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten has been chosen as the best light novel for 2024 by the Kono Light Novel ga Sugoi! ranking. This series, which sometimes makes viewers feel embarrassed just by watching due to its very sweet romantic comedy, has captivated fans worldwide with its adorable heroine Mahiru Shiina. Originally, this light novel series began serialization in 2018 on the Shosetsuka ni Naro website by the author Saekisan. From 2019, it was published as a physical light novel series with illustrations by Hazano Kazutake (and Hanekoto from volume 2 onwards) and has already exceeded 10 volumes. The anime adaptation, which started in early 2023, has further boosted the sales of the original light novel.
It’s a quintessential modern romantic comedy story, focusing on the relationship between high school students Amane Fujimiya and Mahiru Shiina. Amane, who started living alone in his first year of high school, is not good at household chores. Mahiru, a classmate who lives next door, turns out to be adept at cooking and cleaning, and begins to support him in these areas. The development of their relationship, initially devoid of romantic feelings, is a highlight of the story. For those who want to see a light novel depicting the daily life of an incredibly cute heroine, I highly recommend reading this series.
7. The Eminence in Shadow
The Eminence in Shadow (陰の実力者になりたくて!) has remained a major hit into the 2020s. It’s a light novel serialized by Daisuke Aizawa on the Shousetsuka ni Naro platform since 2018, categorized as isekai and dark fantasy. The illustrations are done by Tozai. It’s packed with elements that stir the imagination of Chunibyo (those with a taste for dramatic, teenage fantasy), such as the protagonist being simply powerful, operating in the shadows, and the appearance of various heroines. This genre has a huge fanbase. It has also been successfully adapted into an anime, with sequels being produced at an incredibly fast pace. Two seasons aired in 2022 and 2023, and an animated movie has also been confirmed.
The story’s protagonist Minoru Kageno is a young man who lived an ordinary life in modern-day Japan, but one day, he is suddenly reincarnated as Cid Kagenou in another world. Aiming to become an eminence in the shadows in this new world, he acquires the necessary knowledge and skills. In this world, magic and swordsmanship are crucial, and the protagonist not only masters these but also gains influence in politics and economics. His goal is to manipulate events from behind the scenes, building his ideal life in this other world without ever stepping into the limelight.
8. Days with My Stepsister
Days with My Stepsister (義妹生活) can certainly be described as the cutting edge of the light novel trend in 2024. It is a slice-of-life romantic comedy light novel by the author Ghost Mikawa and the illustrator Hiten. Days with My Stepsister ranked in the top 10 hottest light novels of 2023 and is set to be adapted into an anime in 2024. The series has a unique background; it originally started as a series of manga videos like in the style of visual novels on YouTube, which then led to its novel and comic adaptations. The light novel series, licensed by Yen Press, finally saw its eagerly awaited first volume published in English in October 2023.
Days with My Stepsister is neither a story about strangers nor a tale of blood-related family. Yuta Asamura, a second-year high school student, has lived a life of mistrust towards women due to his mother’s infidelity, which caused his parents’ divorce. The remarriage of his father introduces Saki Ayase, a girl in the same grade, as his stepsister. The two, polar opposites in personality and appearance, feel a sense of discomfort living under one roof, yet they share the commonality of having divorced parents. They agree to maintain a certain distance from each other, but let’s pay attention to how their relationship gradually changes over time.
9. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime (転生したらスライムだった件) might be more familiar as an anime, and it might seem unnecessary to mention it now, but it’s definitely a work that solidified the popularity of the isekai adventure genre. It has become a driving force in popularizing light novels, including among younger generations. The series began serialization on the Shosetsuka ni Naro website in 2013 by the author Fuse, and from 2014, it welcomed Mitz Vah as the illustrator for the light novel series. It has already become a major series with over 20 volumes, and an anime adaptation is set to have its third season realized in the spring of 2024.
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is the story of Satoru Mikami, a 37-year-old ordinary salaryman who loses his life in a random attack and is reincarnated as a slime in another world. As a slime, he acquires the name Rimuru Tempest and embarks on various adventures in this new world, armed with the skill to copy the special abilities of anything he consumes. Rimuru, capable of transforming into a human form as well, navigates his new life with the goal of creating a society where all creatures can live in harmony.
10. Haibara’s Teenage New Game+
An early-translated and globally expanding light novel is Haibara’s Teenage New Game+ (灰原くんの強くて青春ニューゲーム). It began publication in 2021 and just a year later, an English version was released by J-Novel Club. Written by Kazuki Amamiya and illustrated by Gin, it’s a genre mix of sci-fi elements and everyday romantic comedy. As of the end of 2023, six volumes have been published, and an anime adaptation is anticipated.
The protagonist, Natsuki Haibara, had high hopes for a brilliant high school life but ended up living a disappointing life contrary to his expectations and is now a 22-year-old university senior. One day, he suddenly time travels back to just before starting high school, seven years ago, getting a chance to redo his failed teenage days. Utilizing his past experiences, Natsuki successfully becomes a part of the top class caste, a group of six beautiful and handsome students. The story explores what kind of “new game” Natsuki will play with his friends.
Other current hottest light novels include Classroom of the Elite (ようこそ実力至上主義の教室へ), Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World (Re:ゼロから始める異世界生活), and Rascal Does Not Dream Series (青春ブタ野郎シリーズ). These are extremely famous worldwide, so I have omitted their introduction here. If you want to know more great works like these, please check the list of all-time best light novels, including hall of famers.
Additionally, titles like Bus Tab De Kurasu (バスタブで暮らす lit. Living in the Bathtub) and Shibo Yugi De Meshi Wo Ku (死亡遊戯で飯を食う。 lit. Surviving on Death Games), which haven’t been translated into English yet, have seen a tremendous rise in popularity recently and are likely to become well-known in the future. They were not included in the list due to the lack of an English version.
For more good light novels picked up in the recent years, check these lists, too!
You can also check information on 2024’s anime series, anime movies, and manga below!
▶︎▷▶︎▷10 Best Anime of 2024
▶︎▷▶︎▷10 Best Manga 2024
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