What's your favorite book at ~N2 level 🧑‍🎨

Hello! I recently finished my first book during the summer reading challenge :D. I currently don’t have any to-be-read list (only doing the ongoing コンビニ人間 book club… p.s. we go at a beginner/intermediate-friendly pace so it’s not too late to join!! :man_dancing:). I’ve looked on Natively/book clubs here and still really wanted to hear from you guys’ recommendations.

And I’d love to know what YOUR favorite book that you’ve read in Japanese is. ~N2 ish level preferred :), roughly L20-35 on Natively? (not a hard limit).

No any other limit (or genre) since I’d love for this post to be helpful to others looking for books at this level as well. Thank you all! :artist:


The 2.43 清陰高校男子バレー部 LN series. It’s been my special interest for the past two years since the anime was airing. I’m obsessed with it. The characters live rent-free inside my head. It’s rated L28 rn, though I’m the only one who’s graded it thus far.

It’s a sports drama, and the characters are so good. The anime really does not do it justice. (I’m in one of those periods where I can’t be coherent abt it so I can’t say much rn, sorry, but it’s. really good. I honestly feel like it would be on the same level as Haikyuu if people gave it a fair chance [well, not popularity-wise bc different media and also the HQ anime is objectively better, but, like, liking-wise]. I actually like it better but also I’m biased bc I prefer sports dramas over sports shounens anyway. I love a good character-driven story, and this certainly is that. The characters and their dynamics are so good.)

(There is a reason my blog title on tumblr has remained unchanged from “no thoughts head empty only 2.43”)

Edit: Can’t believe I forgot to mention this, but almost all of the characters speak Fukuiben, though it’s pretty similar to Kansaiben on paper. (Seems the biggest difference is in intonation, though that’s not necessary for reading.)


My real favourites tend to be above that level, but here’s a few in that range, in increasing difficulty order:

  • あなたも殺人犯になれる! (Natively L27). This is to some extent a stand-in for “most books by 赤川 次郎”. His books are easy to read from a language learner’s perspective, but still written-for-adults (he does also do books for younger readers), and he’s a very prolific author. They’re usually mystery or thriller, light with a vein of humour. This particular book is “collection of oddballs sign up for a writing retreat for aspiring manga authors at a remote mountain lodge; murder ensues”.

  • 東京バンドワゴン (Natively L30). The author’s homage to Japanese TV family drama/soap opera. This series comes out at the rate of one book every year and I always buy it. (I wrote a longer review on Natively.)

  • ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖 (Natively L30, but I think it has been a bit undergraded – it’s definitely harder than Tokyo Bandwagon). Possibly my favourite light novel series – book flavoured mysteries solved by the super-shy owner of a Kamakura bookshop and her constitutionally-unable-to-read-books assistant. The series is 7 books long and it always feels like it knows where it’s going and isn’t just padding out volumes til the sales figures drop off, both in plot arc and in character development. I love books about books and bookshops, so if you’re into the genre this is a good one. (There is also a second follow-on series with very similar titles and a volume numbering that restarts at 1, so don’t get them mixed up…)


Thanks for the recap everyone :). All looks interesting!!

Personally a big mystery snob and the manga camp one seems so intriguing plus the simple language. Already bought and will post review on natively after i’m done :pray: