Sword Art Online, written by Reki Kawahara and originally published in 2009, has ranked in the top 10 every year from 2011-2019 and takes the number one spot on the list of top light novels of the decade.
In addition to reporting its list of top-voted bunkobon and tankobon-format novels for the year, the 2020 edition of Takarajimasha’s Kono Light Novel ga Sugoi! (This Light Novel Is Amazing!) guidebook revealed the list of series that rank as top light novels of the decade. Reki Kawahara’s Sword Art Online topped this list with 1,728.95 points.
Here is the complete list of top 50 light novels of the decade:
- Sword Art Online — 1728.95
- A Certain Magical Index — 1503.41
- The Ryuo’s Work is Never Done! — 1452.75
- Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? — 816.67
- Alderamin on the Sky — 718.67
- No Game No Life — 702.9
- Ascendance of a Bookworm — 690.14
- The Irregular at Magic High School — 682.83
- Bottom-tier Character Tomozaki — 674.01
- Monogatari Series — 660.69
- Haganai — 618.85
- Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend — 611.56
- Baka and Test — 589.44
- Ben-To — 574.9
- Kino’s Journey — 560.64
- 86 — 546.78
- Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai — 542.71
- Accel World — 541.38
- Overlord — 529.06
- Durarara!! — 523.61
- OreImo — 500.93
- Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World — 499.45
- Classroom of the Elite — 488.85
- So I’m a Spider, So What? — 488.7
- A Sister’s All You Need — 460.87
- Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers — 429.96
- Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World! — 429.95
- Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation — 416.28
- Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere — 389.74
- Gamers! — 388.76
- That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime — 387.31
- The Princess and the Pilot — 380.49
- Rust-Eater Bisco — 377.92
- Tokyo Ravens — 353.12
- Kokoro Connect — 352.4
- Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash — 349.14
- Kono Koi to, sono Mirai — 344.02
- Aria the Scarlett Ammo — 340.99
- Escape Speed — 323.59
- Moon & Laika — 318.4
- Remake our Life! — 308.59
- Circlet Girl — 300.98
- Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina — 297.23
- The Devil Is a Part-Timer! — 295.27
- Nanatsu no Maken ga Shihai suru — 289.53
- No-Rin — 287.56
- The Saga of Tanya the Evil — 287.4
- Student Council’s Discretion — 277.37
- Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor — 276.12
- Goblin Slayer — 275.67
The method used for calculating points varies from year to year, but the rankings take into account both online poll results (conducted in September every year) as well as votes from collaborators that include influencers, critics, and members that are a part of the light novel industry.
As of April 2017, Sword Art Online had printed more than 20 million copies of the novel series worldwide. Seven million of those copies are from oversees countries outside of Japan.
Notably, My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong, As I Expected, written by Wataru Watari, was inducted into the Hall of Fame back in 2015, at which point the publication no longer tracked votes for the series. Considering it had 1,150.20 at the time that would automatically place it in the top five, but it’s reasonable to assume that the series would have broken the top three, if not possibly taking the number one spot for itself.
The overall number of points that qualifying books receive has increased in recent years, which is why the newer series trend higher on this list. For example, while 183.61 points allowed Sword Art Online to top the rankings in the 2012 issue, The Ryuo’s Work is Never Done! has been given 399.33 and 392.95 points over the last two years, respectively.
What’s your favorite series on the list?