1. The Book of Heroes by Miyuki Miyabi
Yuriko visits the Nameless Land to save her older brother with the help of a magical book, who takes the shape of a mouse. It’s a place where it’s a sin to what to become a hero of a book, because the hero and the villain are just two sides of the same coin.
2. Brave Story by Miyuki Miyabi
Brave Story follows Wataru though his terrible home life and into the mystical world of Vision. In Vision he can reach the Tower of Destiny and choose to alter his fate. It’s very The Neverending Story-ish.
3. Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse by Otsuichi
The main story follows the body of a dead girl. She’s the narrator. The reader follows her as the killer hides her body repeatedly to keep the cops from finding her. The secondary story included was just as good as the main story!
4. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
Battle Royale is The Hunger Games on steroids, NOT for young readers. A class of students are sent into the ring to kill each other, given a bag containing water, food, a map, and a weapon that can be anything from an AK47 to a pot lid. Good luck.
5. Confessions by Kanae Minato
Confessions is about a teacher who recently lost her four year old daughter, but her daughter’s death wasn’t what it seemed. Through alternating voices the full story becomes clear, but not before shocking the reader. Fantastic.
6. Kieli, Volume 1: The Dead Sleep in the Wilderness by Yukako Kabei
Kieli is a YA series. She lives in a world torn by an old war, and she can see ghosts. Harvey is an undying solider left over from the war, hunted down because of what he is. Corporal is a ghost that possess an old radio that Harvey carries around. It’s worth reading just for the fantastic characters!
7. Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime by Mizuki Nomura
This is the first book in a YA series. Tohko is a book goblin- she eats books and savors the flavors. Konoha is the only other student in her book club and she forces him to write “snacks” for her. It’s a cute, fun series, but gets really dark toward the end.
8. No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai
No longer human is a hard read. A boy grows up never feeling human; never able to connect to people. He learns to pretend to fit in, but constantly worries that people will see through his mask and realize he really doesn’t belong.
9. Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa
This book follows Miyamoto Musashi from boyhood up to to death. It’s a pretty thick book, but it great for history of the Tokugawa Era of Japan and learning about how the class system worked at the time.
10. Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai by Tsunetomo Yamamoto
Hagakure (The way of the leaf) is the way of the Samurai. It’s a collected work of over seven years of samurai knowledge on everything from how to dress properly to how to die an honorable death. Great read if you like philosophy.