Hey there, I want to practice reading more in context so I’m looking for light novel recs! Recently, I finished the light novel series 妖怪アパートの幽雅な日常, and while I couldn’t read everything, I could read enough for a picture to form in my head as I went, which I’d say is my ideal challenge level.
I love fantasy, friendship, and/or adventure stories! (I also have the attention span of a pebble, hence the light novel instead of regular novel…) If you have any recs, please let me know!
（also I should mention I don’t like sad stories, so nothing with like, Bridge to Terabithia or Where the Red Fern Grows vibes, please…)
I recommend 本好きの下克上, 本好きの下克上, and uhh… 本好きの下克上. I love this series. Just about done volume 7, and definitely going to keep reading after a short break. The series is fairly long, but it’s broken into arcs, so you can feel like you’re making progress even if you don’t read super fast. The writing is relatively straightforward, but still good quality, which results in a pleasant but relatively easy read.
I haven’t read many other light novels, so I’ll just give my opinion of each of them.
キノの旅 - I read the first volume with a book club here on the forums, and it was the first light novel I read. I found it kind of boring. Each chapter is independent from the rest, so if you like that kind of episodic storytelling you might enjoy it, but I only liked 1 to 1.5 of the stories in the book. I can’t comment on the writing quality, since I read it so long ago and I don’t think I would have been capable of judging quality back then.
空ろの箱と零のマリア - Also only read the first volume, even though I bought all 7 volumes on sale. I found the story convoluted and the writing was pretty bad. For some reason this book is among the highest rating LN on sites like MAL, but the ratings on Amazon Japan were fairly low, and I think rightly so.
魔法少女育成計画 - Also only read the first volume, but unlike the other two I stopped reading this one because I found it difficult, not because I didn’t like it. I actually liked the story quite a bit. It was just so difficult that I had to read each chapter in English after reading it in Japanese. But this was a year and a half ago, and I actually plan to read the second volume relatively soon. Hopefully I’ll be able to read it more easily this time.
If you ever do want branch out to “regular” novels, my favorites were 獣の奏者 (read books 1 and 2 which tell a complete story) and コンビニ人間 (a standalone story).
Other than that, for people around the intermediate level or even lower, I would recommend 乙女ゲームの破滅フラグしかない悪役令嬢に転生してしまった…
The author tend to tell the same events multiple times from the point of view of different characters, which definitely helps getting a clearer picture of what is going on. I also find it quite fun but I guess that’s down to individual tastes. There’s definitely a fantasy element, so it might match yours?
Other than that, things I have read might be too hard or do not match the requirements, so I’m not sure. Maybe くま クマ 熊 ベアー? But I did not like it that much, so it’s not a strong recommendation.
If you’re interested in one-off books instead of full series, I have two books that I have read that I really liked.
The first is 君の膵臓を食べたい. If you’re familiar with it, it doesn’t need an introduction, but it won a bunch of awards when it came out and even had a movie. It’s about a high school age kid who finds out about a classmate from his class who has a terminal illness. The book centers around their friendship and coming to terms with death. It’s very good, and has a lot more twists and turns than you would expect.
The second is ラノベ作家になりたくて震える. It’s a book I picked up on a whim that ended up being quite heartwarming and well written. The premise is about a high school student who writes light novels amateurly, and is attempting to win an annual light novel writing contest in order to make a break into the professional world of writing light novels. This was one that I was worried might be a little dull given the premise, but actually turned out to be quite interesting. I highly recommend it.
The only light novel I’ve ever read so far is GOSICK, so I don’t have much to recommend except for that one
90% of the first volume takes place in a ship so there’s a ton of recurring vocabulary (related and unrelated to ships) and it makes so that you really start to pick up speed the more you get into the book and get that vocab down. It felt pretty good not having to rely so much on a dictionary by the end of the book, not gonna lie.