For what it’s worth, the author of SAO said in a recent interview that he was trying to move away from such things in his newer books. (He just mentioned it in passing though, he spent most of the interview trying to convince SAO fans reading the interview to also read yagakimi)
A mysterious city where ghosts sell various items, “Night market”. Here you can obtain any item you want. When he was an elementary school student, Yuuji got lost in the market, in exchange for his own little brother, he brought “Baseball Talent”. Yuuji grew as the baseball club’s hero, but he continued to feel guilty about selling his brother. So tonight in order to buy his brother back he visits Night market again.
A miraculously beautiful and moving ending. It shakes the soul, and won the prize for number one horror in Japan. (let me know if you can write a better translation, or actually find one.)
Short, interesting, and made by the same author who wrote autumn prison which we enjoyed very much. There’s also an audiobook that you can buy to read and listen along to. Might help increase your reading speed.
You know, I haven’t even watched the anime yet. I’m mostly put off by the multiple possible watch orders. For that reason I even book the first volume of the light novel in English (haven’t read it yet), and I wouldn’t mind reading it in Japanese too. I just think I need something to ease me into the more intermediate books (*cough* キノの旅 *cough*).
I’m a strict devotee of broadcast order, but grits teeth to each their own!
Edit: largely because if you watch in chronological order, the climax is like episode 5. Because light novels are like 5 episodes. So… they mix it up with stuff from the other books (I think) in the show, in a way that is intentionally confusing but kind of adds to the fun imo.