One of the many sources of inspiration for anime are light novels. What's an anime light novel? It's a short book, often less than 50,000 words long, which is often paired with anime illustrations. If these books are successful, they might be adapted into an anime. Though this is the case for most light novels, including Baccano!, Monogatari, and more, there are a few that are spin-offs of pre-existing properties - for example, Naruto has a whole series of these that focus on side characters like Shikamaru and Kakashi. A few, like Your Name by Makoto Shinkai, are even written concurrently with their anime adaptation, by the director themselves.
Which are the best anime light novels? There's plenty of amazing contenders - but the real answer is up to you.
If you loved Makoto Shinkai's wildly popular movie, Your Name, you have to read the light novel version. It was actually written by the director during the movie's production, so you can be sure that it will stay true to the movie's original vision. Mitsuha and Taki suddenly begin waking up in each other's bodies, which leads them to get closer and closer until they've nearly fallen in love - but when the switching suddenly stops, they discover a terrible danger that is threatening the safety of everyone in Mitsuha's village. It's a race against time to save Mitsuha - but even saving her life doesn't guarantee that the two will ever see each other again.
Death Note: Another Note is a light novel spin-off of the aforementioned series, written by Nisio Isin. It follows world-famous detective L as he tries to solve a case involving a string of murders committed by none other than Beyond Birthday, a former resident at the orphanage where L grew up. Not only has B become a criminal, but he's also doing it while dressing up like L. If you're a fan of this beloved anime, you have to give Another Note a shot.
When an accident takes the lives of an entire high school class, they're all reincarnated into a fantasy world. For some, this means becoming members of the royal family or beings with exceptional magical prowess - but for one unlucky girl, it means becoming a spider. She'll have to figure out how to survive in a labyrinth of full of monsters and make her way in this new world despite her strange new form. If you're looking for a fantasy comedy with an unusual protagonist, So I'm A Spider, So What? is a great next read.
Legendary director Mamoru Hosoda not only directed his movies, but he also wrote light novel versions of them too. While all of them are worth reading, one of the most noteworthy is Wolf Children: Ame & Yuki, the tale of a single mother trying to raise children with wolflike attributes after the tragic passing of their father. The everyday challenges of parenting are amplified by issues like not knowing whether to take her kids to the vet or the pediatrician - but despite the problems, this family is full of love. This emotionally resonant story will stay with you long after you finish the final page.