Level Up. Beat the grind and submerse yourself in these addictive LitRPGs. Game on.

I’m going to guess you’re here for one of two reasons. 1.) You liked the pretty picture and wanted to know what LitRPG means. 2.) You know what a LitRPG is and are here to be dazzled. Good news: you clicked for the right reason! Let me answer a few of your potential questions below before we get started. – Melissa, Audible Editor

What is this thing you call “LitRPG”?
Spelled out, LitRPG means Literary Role Playing Game. That means it’s the book version of watching someone play a video game, usually one that’s set up like an MMO (massive multi-player) RPG. It’s a blend of sci-fi and fantasy, depending on how it comes to be that our main character ends up living inside a virtual reality. Sometimes we are far into the future. Sometimes it turns out that all humans have been abducted by an alien race. However you cut it, the point of LitRPG is not how we get there, but that we get to be in this virtual reality period, living life as a badass videogame character. Most LitRPGs even include game stats as the main character progresses through the game.

How do I know if a LitRPG is right for me?
First off, have you ever liked a video game before? If yes, then this genre is meant for you! Do you find satisfaction in watching and/or reading about training montages? Then yes, it’s for you! Do you like when the underdog wins? Yep? Here you go! LitRPG is immensely satisfying to those of us who like watching our character level up—without having to do the grinding work ourselves.

Where do I start?
Good question. May I present to you this very fine list of options below? If you’re a noob to the genre I’d suggest starting with the most popular titles and the entry-level listens in the beginner level, and then moving on from there.

Help! I think I’ve listened to all the LitRPGs in existence!
Wow! Good for you! I can 100% prove that you are wrong though, not least of which because new titles are coming out all the time. Scroll to the advanced level and check out some old classics that became the first LitRPGs as well as a few hidden gems and new releases.

Level: Beginner

    • By: Ernest Cline
    • Narrated by: Wil Wheaton
    • Length: 15 hrs and 40 mins
    • Release date: 08-16-11
    • 5 out of 5 stars 219,971 ratings
    • You’ve probably seen this around
    • Though not exactly "the one that started it all," Ready Player One launched LitRPG into the mainstream American market like no other book before it. It’s a fairly new genre, you see—it didn’t even get its name until 2013 when a Russian publisher coined the phrase for its new imprint. If you were alive in the 80s, or if you like Stranger Things, then this book will serve nicely to introduce you to the genres of gamer lit and LitRPG.
    • By: Scott Meyer
    • Narrated by: Luke Daniels
    • Series: Magic 2.0, Book 1
    • Length: 10 hrs and 45 mins
    • Release date: 03-18-14
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 27,746 ratings
    • For the philosophicals
    • This is a soft entry with LitRPG-like elements. Not every LitRPG concerns itself with the outside world. In fact, many only give it a passing acknowledgement as they speed up to the good bits, aka the gaming. But this series really grapples with the philosophical question: what if we found out our world was a virtual reality? Okay, so maybe it doesn’t grapple with the deeper questions, but they’re there. And they make the story just that much more fun, trust me.
    • Ascend Online, Book 1
    • By: Luke Chmilenko
    • Narrated by: Luke Daniels
    • Series: Ascend Online, Book 1
    • Length: 17 hrs and 56 mins
    • Release date: 07-18-17
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 9,921 ratings
    • Let’s build some villages!
    • Set far into the future where immersive gaming is the main form of entertainment, Marcus is gaming with his friends online when the unexpected happens—always the dreaded goblins!—and he needs to help rebuild a village. Watching it grow from the ground up is so satisfying, along with getting to know Marcus’ friends, who are the coolest MMORPG friends ever.
    • Chaos Seeds, Book 1
    • By: Aleron Kong
    • Narrated by: Nick Podehl
    • Series: Chaos Seeds, Book 1
    • Length: 9 hrs and 49 mins
    • Release date: 04-21-17
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 22,388 ratings
    • Welcome to the gamer’s paradise
    • With the series being named Audible's customer favorite pick for 2018, The Land by Aleron Kong is, unsurprisingly, an adventure fit for the enthusiastic beginner, intermediate, or advanced listener. This is the one I was referring to where an alien race abducts humans and inserts them into a game. My favorite part is the sound effects that go along with every status update. With seven books and counting in this series, there’s quite a lot of leveling-up in store for Richter and his friends.
    • Arcane Ascension, Book 1
    • By: Andrew Rowe
    • Narrated by: Nick Podehl
    • Series: Arcane Ascension, Book 1
    • Length: 21 hrs and 58 mins
    • Release date: 07-04-17
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 22,250 ratings
    • Solve the puzzles (or just let the MC do it)
    • Another genre-bending entry point for those curious about the RPG, Sufficiently Advanced Magic has some of the most fun elements of gamer’s fiction: puzzles, rewards, and level-ups. It’s not quite a LitRPG because it’s set in a fantasy world, and the trials the main character Corin goes through are not virtual. But he is awarded magic powers upon completion and undergoes rigorous training, which makes it a pretty addictive listen.

Level: Intermediate

    • Completionist Chronicles, Book 1
    • By: Dakota Krout
    • Narrated by: Vikas Adam
    • Series: The Completionist Chronicles, Book 1
    • Length: 12 hrs and 6 mins
    • Release date: 05-15-18
    • 5 out of 5 stars 6,590 ratings
    • And here you thought healers were uncool
    • LitRPG should also be known for its colorful and character-filled narration. Did you see the stacked list of narrators in the beginner level?? It takes a badass narrator to masterfully voice the entirety of a game world and all the fantasy characters within it, and then on top of that, to read us game stats in a compelling way. Vikas Adam tangos with the best of narrators, and he pulls you into the world of the Ritualist as Joe (best fantasy character name ever) learns the delicate balance between having immense powers as well as immense handicaps.
    • The Viridian Gate Archives, Book 1
    • By: J. A. Hunter
    • Narrated by: Armen Taylor
    • Series: The Viridian Gate Archives, Book 1
    • Length: 8 hrs and 44 mins
    • Release date: 04-20-17
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 2,430 ratings
    • Talk about the need to escape
    • In Jack’s real world, there’s an unavoidable asteroid hurtling toward Earth, about to destroy the population. What better place to be, then, than in the game universe of Viridian Gate Online? Turns out though that loading your consciousness into a game system doesn’t solve all your problems. Money is power in all the lands, and Jack's new main goal is to get by without being tied to "eternal serfdom" as one reviewer called it.
    • A LitRPG Adventure, Book 1
    • By: Edward Brody
    • Narrated by: Pavi Proczko
    • Series: Eden's Gate, Book 1
    • Length: 10 hrs and 17 mins
    • Release date: 03-30-17
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 3,300 ratings
    • True love’s quest
    • At first, Gunnar’s goal in the world of Eden’s Gate is just to find his girlfriend—and to find a way to stop playing the game, as there appears to be no exit… soon though, he’s caught up in the quests and the adventures like the other players. His progression through the levels doesn’t happen mind-bogglingly fast though, which is a refreshing take compared to many RPGs. Plus, he’s got a cool head and thinks before he acts: A+.
    • Play to Live, Book 1
    • By: D. Rus
    • Narrated by: Michael Goldstrom
    • Series: Play to Live, Book 1
    • Length: 12 hrs and 13 mins
    • Release date: 10-12-15
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 3,608 ratings
    • Let your inner geek reign
    • In a world where your mind can get sucked into any game you’re playing by chance, you’d think people would maybe stop playing that online roulette. But, to those with debilitating injuries or sicknesses like Max, who has terminal cancer, it’s an out. He rolls that dice and melds into a fantasy MMORPG. Originally translated from Russian, this new LitRPG classic is just that: classic fun.

Level: Advanced

    • By: Phil Tucker
    • Narrated by: Vikas Adam
    • Series: Euphoria Online, Book 1
    • Length: 9 hrs and 21 mins
    • Release date: 08-07-18
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 538 ratings
    • "Game" would be a misleading term for this virtual reality
    • Prepare to be knocked off your feet by this doozey. The stakes are high here, as Chris has opted in for the Death March mode of Euphoria Online’s gameplay, which in this futuristic dystopia, means that Chris has only one life in the game, and if he loses it, then he dies in real life. Chris has to do it though in order to gain a pardon for his brother, who’s been sentenced to death (yikes!).
    • The Rogue Dungeon, Book 1
    • By: James Hunter, eden Hudson
    • Narrated by: Nick Podehl
    • Series: The Rogue Dungeon, Book 1
    • Length: 7 hrs and 41 mins
    • Release date: 09-18-18
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 1,838 ratings
    • Good for you, trying something new!
    • Queue this up and add it to your list because it’s a rager judging by the cover alone. Fellow Audible Editor Scott J. called it Ready Player One meets Lord of the Rings. Personally, I’m intrigued to hear a LitRPG story from the perspective of a troll character, which is usually quite detested in RPGs. Add the fact that it’s narrated by Nick Podehl, and this one is an easy decision for you if you’re still on the fence: yes.
    • By: Conor Kostick
    • Narrated by: Samuel E. Hoke
    • Length: 10 hrs and 47 mins
    • Release date: 02-14-18
    • 4 out of 5 stars 82 ratings
    • Gaming the system from inside the game system
    • Originally published in 2004, Epic is among the first in the LitRPG genre. It’s set in a place called New Earth (the planet humans migrated to after they destroyed Earth 1), where society is decidedly low-tech except for the fantasy MMORPG that connects everyone. Erik witnesses the injustice of the system to his parents and decides that he isn’t going to play by the rules anymore. Adventure ensues.
    • By: Charles Stross
    • Narrated by: Robert Ian MacKenzie
    • Series: Halting State, Book 1
    • Length: 13 hrs and 27 mins
    • Release date: 06-23-10
    • 4 out of 5 stars 338 ratings
    • Today's eerie similarities to yesteryear's near future world
    • Also an early progenitor to the category but not quite yet a LitRPG, this techno-crime thriller brought some serious tech into the realm of the police procedural. Jack Reed, a programmer, is tasked with solving an international crime that’s committed from inside the gamers’ universe. Turns out, what was initially thought to be just a virtual place for misfits and outcasts had the potential all along to cause ramifications much more real than anyone knew.