The best LitRPG books, graphic novels, and light novels

Kevin Murphy Author Of First Login
By Kevin Murphy

Who am I?

LitRPG is special. It really is. LitRPG provides authors with some of the most powerful tools in storytelling. Computer-simulated worlds make magic fully believable. They enable giant mysteries, actual monsters, forbidden treasures, and incredibly diverse adversaries. LitRPG can be a love story or a tale of revenge. It can bring hope, despair, or just desserts. It’s a perfect vehicle for modern fantasy—a setting where the apocalypse can be at hand, where humans can fight gods, and where the world itself might be sentient. My love for LitRPG drove me to write an epic containing a series of huge, underlying mysteries that would reveal themselves over the course of the story.

I wrote...

First Login

By Kevin Murphy,

Book cover of First Login

What is my book about?

First Login is a love letter to the LitRPG genre that embraces and subverts tropes in equal measure.

Eager for adventure, Corbin jumps into Chronicle, a simulated world where magic, monsters, and mysteries abound. For the first time in his life, he’s free to go anywhere and do anything, but not everyone who plays Chronicle has Corbin’s best intentions in mind. Even the system-generated NPCs seem to have it out for him. After stumbling upon a secret so incredible that it threatens to change everything, Corbin has to figure out how to keep it for his sake and for the sake of his friends.

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The books I picked & why

Ready Player One

By Ernest Cline,

Book cover of Ready Player One

Why this book?

Ready Player One is one of two books that changed my path in life.

The book and movie couldn’t be any more different. They’re almost like parodies of one another.

The book leans much harder into nerdy subculture and really embraces life in a VR space. It exalts retro videogames, tabletop RPGs, anime, music, and cinema all while establishing a vast and incredible world to escape to.

The story’s physical world is a dystopian, classist nightmare. The main character is fully aware. All he really wants to do is save what he loves and live freely.

LitRPG would not be what it is today without Ready Player One, and you can blame the book for my desire to hide easter eggs in works of my own.

Ready Player One

By Ernest Cline,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Ready Player One as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


It's the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We're out of oil. We've wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty, and disease are widespread.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that…

Book cover of The Dragon’s Wrath: A Virtual Dream

Why this book?

A Virtual Dream is a LitRPG that’s achieved legendary status. The story does so many things right. It establishes a compelling base-building story, gives meaning to NPCs, and pulls us to root for the oddball protagonist, whether or not we agree with him.

Mysteriously, books one and two of The Dragon’s Wrath haven’t been for sale online in years. Nonetheless, the demand for this series continues today and copies of each book still circulate the web, prized like treasures.

This book helped me realize how much more can be done with the LitRPG genre, and even though its story remains unfinished, the third book gives a considerable amount of resolution while leaving you hungry for more.

The Dragon’s Wrath: A Virtual Dream

By Brent Roth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dragon’s Wrath as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

Book cover of The Moonlight Sculptor: The Birth of A Dark Gamer (Book 1)

Why this book?

Did you know that LitRPG was originally forged in the east? The Moonlight Sculptor (or Legendary Moonlight Sculptor, LMS, as most know it) was so popular that its ravenous fans spread it to the rest of the world. The series sets up a number of important tropes for the genre going forward. Many consider LMS to be required reading, but you should know going in that it has a very spotty translation. It’s a massive body of work, too, spanning 57 published volumes.

In it, a hardworking miser pseudonymously known as Weed overprepares and over-delivers time and time again. Watching Weed grow and affect his world is exciting and addictive. LMS is really engaging. It’s an excellent, albeit silly read. If you only read one Korean LitRPG, read this one.

The Moonlight Sculptor: The Birth of A Dark Gamer (Book 1)

By Heesung Nam,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Moonlight Sculptor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

Book cover of Solo Leveling, Vol. 1

Why this book?

Solo Leveling (or Only I Level Up), in its webtoon form, is one of the peaks of LitRPG storytelling. The scenes are beautifully drawn, elevating the story beyond its original text-only format. You will be hard-pressed to find a more engaging read than this. The webtoon maintains tension incredibly well, and knows how to constantly supply its readers with little dopamine bombs along the way.

Solo Leveling plays with the formula of LitRPG, taking it off the rails by containing the game system inside the main character for much of the story, allowing him to grow stronger. Reading Solo Leveling is an absolute treat—perhaps doubly so for me as several of the niche ideas used in the story are also used in my books.

Solo Leveling, Vol. 1

By Chugong,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Solo Leveling, Vol. 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The official English print publication of the popular Korean webcomic! E-class hunter Jinwoo Sung is the weakest of them all. Looked down on by everyone, he has no money, no abilities to speak of, and no other job prospects. So when his party finds a hidden dungeon, he's determined to use this chance to change his life for the better...but the opportunity he finds is a bit different from what he had in mind!

Book cover of AlterWorld: Play to Live

Why this book?

A Russian novel with a top-notch translation, Alterworld is a controversial series, but one that is etched into LitRPG history and is legitimately worth reading.

The story’s terminally ill protagonist cheats death by uploading his consciousness to a game world, trapping himself in-game, and unlocking a whole slew of issues to overcome. Be forewarned: the series is mired in controversy for several reasons, not least of which being the author’s mercurial political stance. Initially hyper-critical of government, the author becomes famous and suddenly changes his tune. If you binge read the series, this jump to pro-national propaganda will stick out like a sore thumb, but it’s a bit like a trainwreck that’s difficult to look away from. It’s odd and serves to make the series that much more interesting.

AlterWorld: Play to Live

By D. Rus,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked AlterWorld as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A page-turning LitRPG debut in the tradition of Nam Heesung, Legendary Moonlight Sculptor, and Ernest Cline, Ready Player One. Bestseller #1 for years 2013, 2014 and 2015. Bestseller #1 at Audible in 2016. Translated to Korean, German, Polish and Czech languages. A new pandemic - the perma effect - has taken over Earth of the near future. Whenever you play your favorite online game, beware: your mind might merge with the virtual world and dump its comatose host. Woe be to those stuck forever in Tetris! And still they're the lucky ones compared to those burning alive eternally within the…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in virtual reality, legends, and Korea?

8,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about virtual reality, legends, and Korea.

Virtual Reality Explore 33 books about virtual reality
Legends Explore 23 books about legends
Korea Explore 32 books about Korea

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