What are Light Novels? — Your Quick Guide

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Welcome to my post on what are light novels.

What are light novels? Are they actual novels that the ones y’all are used to? Are they like short stories complied into a single physical copy? Do they come in volumes? or chapters? How are they related to manga?

Hold on, hold on, one at a time folks! All will be explained in due time (゚⊿゚)

Light novels are not something new in the world of Japanese media. They have actually been around since the late 70s but only made a splash in the world in the early 2000s. These are books aimed at the teenage demographic but it is not uncommon to see adults in their 30s or even 40s to purchase a light novel from the various Animate stores in Japan.

Besides anime and manga, light novels are also a dominating force in the world of Japanese media and culture. Most fans (internationally, at least) are not introduced to the world of light novels until they have been invested in this culture for a couple of years but when they do hear of their existence, they become pretty much hooked.

Like mangaka, there are also authors that specialise in light novels. And just like manga, if their work becomes popular, it might be commissioned for a manga or anime adaptation. Most international fans find out about the light novel through the anime adaptation most of the time while others are solely committed to the original work.

Light novels these days are gaining massive popularity with many popular anime based off light novels with the most famous examples being The Rising of the Shield Hero, Violet Evergarden, and That Time I Got Reincarnated Into a Slime. Unsurprisingly, the presence of the light novels has influenced anime and manga trends over recent years with the rise of the isekai (another world) genre solely attributing to most light novels containing the said genre in their content.

So why mention light novels today? And on my site?

Well, allow me to explain everything one at a time, beginning with what comprises a light novel.

Related post: What is the Difference Between Light Novels and Manga?

What Does a Light Novel Look Like?

Light novels are your basic books like the ones you normally read. Manga also comes in this form when the various chapters are compiled into volumes.

The outside is nothing special — just a manga illustration on the cover like a normal manga. It’s the inside that is unique — it has manga illustrations spliced in with the many words and paragraphs.

I believe the light novel is light this in order to give more context to the story and also to gain the target audience’s attention. As such, this is why the light novel is specifically aimed at the teenaged demographic.

What Kind of Stories do Light Novels Tell?

Well, anything under the sun. Just like manga, the light novel has a far-reaching fanbase so authors have creative license to write anything at all.

I got nothing much to say about this…writing books can yield all kinds of stories. This is why I love reading ( ◞・౪・)

Ah but just like manga, light novels are subject to the trends of their readers. Like I mentioned above, the isekai genre is popular and most well-known light novels are of this genre.

Are there romantic, horror, or action-based light novels?

Yes, there are but you have to look a little since those genres are not trending. Violet Evergarden is not an isekai novel so you can start with that. I personally love the series very much.

Can Children Read Light Novels?

Light novels are aimed at the teenaged demographic so it is expected that the content will be full of intermediate-level Japanese vocabulary and various kanji. In English, this is equivalent to middle-school or high-school level vocabulary meaning that young children may struggle with understanding the context of the novel.

If you want to introduce a light novel to your child, ensure that their reading level is enough that they can at least grasp the gist of the content. If not, perhaps you should read the light novel to your children before bed or just stick with manga until their vocabulary becomes advanced enough that they can read and understand.

As for violent/mature content, there is definitely some but I think you don’t have to worry too much about your children being exposed to it since the novel will use flowery language to disguise the crudeness of the acts. Oh, but the manga illustrations spliced inside the various pages of the novel may show some scenes so I suggest you be vigilant.

However, I will reiterate once again that it depends on the maturity of the child so do not take my advice as something set in stone.

How do I Find a Light Novel?

You can find most English-translated light novels on sites like amazon.com or from anime/manga-specific sites like rightstufanime.com.

However, it is to be said that a lot of light novels are not translated into English yet as the medium itself is not as popular as anime or manga.

To combat that, I used free-translating sites which translate the novel for free. That’s how I read Violet Evergarden. However, I have always said on this site that I don’t recommend using such sites and to support the original work. This is because we readers have no idea if the distribution was done legally or not. In addition, sometimes these sites are riddled with viruses so please take up my suggestion and support the original work if possible.

If you want to use a free-distributing site, do so at your own risk. I’m guilty of using those sites as well but we are all human after all.

Final Thoughts

To answer the question I posed at the beginning of this post — light novels are worth mentioning because they are important to the popularity of manga.

Manga adaptations of light novels are becoming more widespread and will only become more common hence mentioning where the stories originally came from is essential.

I believe that light novels will be just as popular as anime and manga in a couple of years and I can’t wait for that because as I mentioned thousands of times before, I love a good story and I hope that more fans of light novels will emerge.

As always, if you have anything to say about my post, feel free to comment down below, I’d love to hear it 🙂


  1. For fans of anime I think light novels are a good fast read with a ton of action found within the pages. I think this why they are so popular with the teenagers,short but action packed. My hope is that more light novels can be found in othe genres I would love to see more horror based novels put out.

  2. Hi Violet,

    Thank you for your lovely post about light novels. I have learn many unknown things about light novels by reading your post. You have nicely described what light novels are, what does a light novel look like, what kind of stories light novel tell, can children read light novels and so on. You have also mentioned the sites from which one can get light novels.

    I also hope that one day light novels will be as popular as anime and manga. Thank you so much for sharing this informative post. I will definitely share it to others.

  3. Light novels seem pretty interesting since one of its characteristics is that its designed for teens. I think it’s getting popularity because preference of people also changes that’s why even adults would like to read it. I also have heard popular light novels such as Konosuba and Overlord. I have yet to check out Violet Evergarden. I think my daughter’s gonna like it. Thanks for explaining what this is all about. As long as kids would be encouraged to read any substantial literary materials, then it’s fine. They should be supported, and even adults as well!

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