The Naruto light novels have gotten attention recently due to the anime adaptations of Itachi Shinden and Sasuke Retsuden. There are a grand total of, as of the time of writing, 31 Naruto light novels. Some of them are in different series and all have different authors.
This can be a little confusing for people who want to explore Naruto outside of the events of the anime or manga. To aid with this, here is a handy guide chronicling the Naruto light novels reading order in timeline order. Whether a casual or hardcore Naruto fan, this list ought to help slot these Naruto light novels in order.
Disclaimer: As this list concerns the Naruto light novel series, this may contain spoilers for those novels. Likewise, any opinions belong solely to the author.
The Naruto light novels reading order, explored and explained
The Naruto light novels follow the series, even into Boruto. This part will give the actual reading order and the next part will explain the same in more depth. Any of them which aren't required will be denoted with an asterisk, and explanations will be given.
As an extra note, the list will likewise denote the manga and where this event takes place. Without further ado, here are the Naruto light novels reading order list in chronological order:
- Itachi Shinden: Book of Light and Itachi Shinden Book of Darkness (Pre-Naruto, Uchiha Clan massacre)
- Naruto: Innocent Heart, Demonic Blood* (collects the Land of Waves Arc)
- Naruto manga: Chapter 1 through Chapter 699
- Naruto Mission: Protect the Waterfall village* (non-canon OVA)
- The Tale of the Utterly Gutsy Shinobi* (fiction within fiction by Jiraiya)
- The Tale of the Utterly Pure hearted Shinobi* (How Jiraiya came up with Make Out Paradise)
- Naruto Jinroiden: The Day the Wolf Howled* (Post chapter 394: Sasuke's victory)
- Naruto The Movie: Blood Prison* (Novel adaptation of a non-canon movie)
- Kakashi Hiden: Lightning in the Icy Sky (Post chapter 699: The Seal of Reconciliation)
- Shikamaru Hiden: A Cloud Drifting in Silent Darkness
- The Last: Naruto the Movie* (novel adaptation of the film)
- Sakura Hiden: Thoughts of Love, Riding Upon a Spring Breeze
- Konoha Hiden: The Perfect Day for a Wedding
- Gaara Hiden: A Sandstorm Mirage
- Akatsuki Hiden: Evil Flowers in Full Bloom
- Sasuke Shinden Book of Sunrise
- Naruto Manga Chapter #700 (Naruto Uzumaki!!!)
- Konoha Shiden: Steam Ninja Scrolls
- Boruto: The New Leaves Soaring Through the Blue Sky!* (collects Boruto episodes 1 to 6)
- Boruto: A Call from the Shadows!* (Collects Boruto episodes 7 to 11)
- Boruto: Those Who Illuminate the Night of Shinobi!& (Collects Boruto episodes 12 to 15)
- Naruto Gaiden: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring
- Boruto: School Trip Bloodwind Records* (Collects Boruto episodes 25 to 32)
- Boruto: The Last Day at the Ninja Academy!* (Collects Boruto episodes 34 to 37)
- Boruto: Naruto the Movie* (Novel Adaptation of Boruto: The Movie)
- Naruto Shinden: Parent and Child Day
- Sasuke Shinden: The Teacher's Star Pupil
- Shikamaru Shinden: A Cloud Dancing in Forlorn Falling Petals
- Kakashi Retsuden: The Sixth Hokage and the Failure Boy
- Sasuke Retsuden: The Uchiha Descendants and the Heavenly Stardust
- Naruto Retsuden: Naruto Uzumaki and the Spiral Destiny
That's all 31 Naruto light novels in chronological order. For readers wondering why these should or shouldn't be read, each Naruto light novel will now be given a very brief summation in the next section.
The Naruto Light Novel reading order, in-depth
This section is going to cover the Naruto light novels, only more in-depth than listing them off. It will contain where and how these fit into the Naruto timeline. Their readability is up to the reader, the non-canon ones are included for the enjoyability and completionists out there.
1) Itachi Shinden: Book of Bright Light and Book of Dark Night
For any Naruto fan who loves Itachi Uchiha, or wanted his perspective on the Uchiha Clan Massacre, the Naruto light novels cover those events and Itachi's life up to that point.
Most fans say the book handles certain elements (Izumi, for example) better than the anime. The books are about Itachi's life during his own childhood, leading up to and including the Uchiha Clan Massacre.
2) Naruto: Innocent Heart, Demonic Blood
This novel collects the entirety of the Land of Waves and the prologue of Naruto, showing how Team 7 formed and their first mission It's easily skippable owing to just being a novelization of the events of the anime and manga. The events are a little more accessible in the visual and sound format anyway, though recommended for people that wanted those events in book form.
3) Naruto Mission: Protect the Waterfall Village
As the list stated, this is the original Naruto light novel with the same name as the non-canon OVA. The two generally have the same story: Takigakure is attacked, Sasuke and Sakura are quickly captured, and Naruto has to rescue his comrades by himself while protecting an entire village. The differences are here and there, like the amount of jutsu used, characters missing from the anime adaptation, etc.
4) The Tale of the Utterly Gutsy Shinobi
This Naruto light novel is a nested story/embedded narrative written by the Legendary Sannin Jiraiya. It depicts the novel that he wrote dedicated to his unborn son, Naruto, about the titular ninja having to save the world. It's been described as a very silly novel, and can probably be skipped, but is still a fun read regardless.
5)The Tale of the Utterly Pure hearted Shinobi
The book tells the story and origin of how Make-Out Paradise was spawned. Most fans know this is Kakashi's favorite novel, as it's a smaller affair for how it came about. It's the story within a story, Romeo and Juliet in Naruto style. Not exactly plot-critical or heavy, but a fun thing to add to a collection.
6) Naruto Jinroiden: The Day the Wolf Howled
A much more personal affair of Sasuke's following his battle with Itachi, this Naruto light novel details Sasuke wondering if Itachi was actually sick at all and heading to the village where he got his eye drop medicine. It's the equivalent of a filler arc, but a very action-heavy one as Sasuke is roped into saving the village while investigating.
7) Naruto The Movie: Blood Prison
As with the Waterfall Village OVA, this Naruto light novel adaptation can probably be skipped safely. Not only because the movie does a much better job of conveying the events, but likewise that the events of the movie are canonized via the next entry.
8) Kakashi Hiden: Lightning in the Icy Sky
The first of the officially post-Naruto light novels focus on Kakashi Hatake's first real job as Sixth Hokage: stopping an airship hijacking. This book is best described as a combination of Metal Gear Solid meeting Naruto, as it's primarily a stealth mission for Kakashi and Might Guy. It also canonizes the Blood Prison.
9) Shikamaru Hiden: A Cloud Drifting in Silent Darkness
A much more political affair awaits Shikamaru Nara in this Naruto light novel, as many people have gone missing and it threatens the safety of the Shinobi Union. It proceeds to be a mission to rescue Sai and his entire team from the Land of Silence.
The novel is best described as part political thriller, part daring rescue.
10) The Last: Naruto the Movie
Another Naruto light novel that's an adaptation of the movie. Although this one isn't a required reading per se, it's worth noting that this novel follows the path of being an extended cut of the movie.
Many scenes are extended, such as giving the other Kage scenes to protect themselves from the meteors and Shikamaru doubting Naruto and Hinata's rescue abilities at first.
11) Sakura Hiden: Thoughts of Love, Riding Upon a Spring Breeze
This entry into Naruto light novels starts with Sakura opening a clinic for traumatized children after the Fourth Great Ninja War. However, soon it turns into a hunt to find a Sasuke imposter wreaking havoc across several villages. Sakura, Ino, and Sai race against time to investigate. It's a book that explores the aftermath of the war, and stars three overshadowed characters.
12) Konoha Hiden: The Perfect Day for a Wedding
Wedding bells are in the air for Naruto and Hinata, and Kakashi is assigning their friends a vital mission: get them a gift. This Naruto light novel is about weddings, gift-giving, and how their friends have benefitted as much as Naruto and Hinata have. It's a feel-good romp of a novel depicting Naruto and Hinata's wedding.
13) Gaara Hiden: A Sandstorm Mirage
Funding issues and compensation for losses during the fourth great ninja war plague Gaara and the Hidden Sand village in this entry into Naruto light novels. However, there are other things as well that are a part of it including things like Gaara being suggested to marry soon and terrorist attacks. Gaara gets roped into all that plus a coup attempt. It's a Naruto light novel with twists, turns, and more Gaara for fans of his.
14) Akatsuki Hiden: Evil Flowers in Full Bloom
This is one of the more unique Naruto light novels which focuses on the Akatsuki. It's all the Akatsuki in view, all of them being highlighted and humanized in ways that some people may not expect. It's likewise Sasuke reminiscing about the ways in which his life turned out but is mostly focused on the Akatsuki.
15) Sasuke Shinden Book of Sunrise
This Naruto light novel is probably known to those that saw the anime adaptation, it involves Sasuke investigating the Dark Thunder Group as Konoha comes under attack. This one may end differently, but the story is overall the same: Sasuke ends up having to fight people that remind him of his younger self and helps them off the path of vengeance.
16) Konoha Shinden: Steam Ninja Scrolls
Another one that got an anime adaptation, this Naruto light novel sees Kakashi and Might Guy on vacation. The vacation turns into an assignment involving human trafficking, the seeming return of Hidan, and the child of Asuma Sarutobi and Kurenai Yuhi investigating with them.
17) The Boruto episode novels
The Boruto episode novels are only noteworthy in that they are more like summations of what happened in those episodes rather than having anything that warrants their existence. It's safe to skip these Naruto light novels until the next original story, which too got adapted into the anime.
18) Naruto Gaiden: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring
This particular Naruto light novel was adapted into the Boruto anime, into the Sarada Uchiha arc. It shows the events of that arc in novel form, showing Shin Uchiha being fought, Sarada's identity crisis around Sasuke, and the reconciliation between Sasuke and Sarada. Otherwise, this Naruto light novel is easily skippable.
19) Boruto: Naruto the Movie
Boruto's first movie's novel is literally the same as The Last's adaption, considered an extended version of the movie. These types of Naruto light novels can be nice to read if a fan needs or wanted more from the movie or overall arc. Several extensions include observing more of Boruto's inner thoughts, and more than a few other details besides.
20) Naruto Shinden: Parent and Child Day
This one was, again, covered in the Boruto anime and covered episodes 93 to 95. It covers the formation of "Parent and Child Day", a holiday to give people a break from a long work week. This includes basically all of the mainstays (Naruto, Hinata, Sasuke) having to make time for their kids, as well as the struggles that come with kids and being parents.
21) Sasuke Shinden: The Teacher's Star Pupil
A violent attack on a train sees Sasuke and Boruto's Team 7 having to escort and protect an idol singer named Lily Himeno. While comedic in the sense of what they have to do, including Boruto having to disguise himself as Lily, having to save her from assassination attempts by a cult keeps things interesting.
22) Shikamaru Shinden: A Cloud Dancing in Forlorn Falling Petals
Shikamaru is again dragged into a political matter, this time involving stopping a brewing war between countries. This Naruto light novel is a political thriller and game of chess involving bandits kidnapping political leaders, Shikamaru having to placate leaders, and plenty of "How troublesome" quotes.
23) Kakashi Retsuden: The Sixth Hokage and the Failure Boy
The trio of Retsuden Naruto light novels is intertwined, a first for the series. Basically, the thread is that Naruto is sick and seemingly dying. Kakashi's part is trying to find a cure in the land of Redaku, and having to deal with its corrupt government at the same time.
24) Sasuke Retsuden: The Uchiha Descendants and the Heavenly Stardust
This second entry into the Naruto light novels trio recently got an anime adaptation. Sasuke infiltrates a prison to investigate disappearances and into the Sage of Six Paths. The prison was supposed to host the cure. This Naruto light novel is odd, but good in the sense of having twists and turns. It's Sakura and Sasuke against a corrupt prison.
25) Naruto Retsuden: Naruto Uzumaki and the Spiral Destiny
This Naruto light novel ties up the trilogy, starting with Naruto avoiding an assassination attempt while still suffering from the mysterious illness that's practically killing him. It's a journey to escape assassins and cure the Seventh Hokage. What more could a reader want?
This has been an exploration of the Naruto light novels and the Naruto light novel reading order. In conclusion, there's a question to be asked about why the Naruto light novels matter. The Naruto light novels contain a lot of character moments and interesting stories that otherwise cannot be told in the manga or anime.
Above all, the Naruto light novels are fun to read, particularly if a reader wanted more from the characters aside from what the show or manga portrayed. If any readers have any critiques of the Naruto light novels or just something to add, they can comment in the comments below.