Learning Spanish? Here Are 5 Books I Highly Recommend You Own
- Written byJada Lòpez
- Read time6 mins
Looking for the best books to learn Spanish?
The real challenge with finding the best Spanish books is not that there aren’t enough resources, but there are too many!
Some great ones, some mediocre and some that just aren’t really worth the money.
So, today I’m going to share with you 5 of the best books to learn Spanish, in my opinion.
I’ve also added some alternative Spanish resource suggestions on to the end of the post in case you’re looking for more!
Let me know in the comment section if there’s a book you’d recommend me adding to this list.
UPDATE: A lot of people ask for our best online Spanish course recommendation. Here it is for those interested:
1. Practice Makes Perfect collection for Spanish
The Spanish Practice Makes Perfect collection is a full series of different books for Spanish that cover pretty much everything you can think of related to Spanish.
In fact, you could probably buy the full series of their Spanish books and just call it a day!
Each book has its own individual focus. The top titles include:
- Complete Spanish Grammar
- Basic Spanish
- Spanish Verb Tenses
- Spanish Conversation (highly recommended)
- Complete Spanish All-In-One
- Spanish Pronouns and Prepositions
- Advanced Spanish Grammar
See? I wasn’t kidding when I said the series covers just about everything. 🙂
The books are amazingly comprehensive and cover their respective topic very well. Each one is written by a different author.
In particular, I highly recommend the Spanish Conversation edition which uses authentic dialogue examples to get you speaking better Spanish. Each of the twelve sections begins with a natural dialogue and then goes into some really helpful (and challenging) exercises.
This series is really popular with Spanish learners and it’s not hard to see why.
2. Spanish Short Stories For Beginners – Olly Richards
Okay, so this book doesn’t exactly teach Spanish.
It’s a graded reader aimed at beginner learners of the language and is part of an enormously popular series in the polyglot community (the author also runs a brilliant Spanish course called Spanish Uncovered - see review).
The whole point is to get you reading material that’s at your level as a new learner – stuff that’s challenging but not too much.
It doesn’t give you the option to look up the English translation either.
You just get vocab lists and exercises. The audio is also available online.
There’s a follow-on edition to this (admittedly I haven’t seen this one but have heard it’s just as good).
I highly recommend the Spanish Short Stories book to you if you’re looking for reading material at a low level.
3. Accelerated Spanish
Timothy Moser’s Accelerated Spanish is quite unique compared to other books in this niche.
His book focuses on using his own personally developed mnemonic technique for remembering Spanish words and grammar.
It’s quite a unique take but his approach works wonders for people.
He gets you recognizing grammar patterns and high-frequency terms in the beginning and gradually you’ll be able to plug in other terms with ease.
You’ll find yourself being able to store images in ‘memory palaces’ with quick recall by using the book’s method.
4. Spanish All-In-One For Dummies
For Dummies? Seriously? 🙂
Yes, this series is very hit-and-miss.
Some books in the ‘Dummies’ series are frankly terrible but the Spanish one is actually very good and one I highly recommend.
While it’s a really comprehensive primer to Spanish, my only gripe with it is a purely aesthetic one – I really don’t like the font and clustered text of the book.
It makes all ‘Dummies’ books unnecessarily hard to read.
Other than that, it’s a brilliant one to add to your bookshelf.
Make sure to get the accompanying audio to get full value out of it.
5. Easy Spanish Step-By-Step
At the time of this writing, Easy Spanish Step-By-Step is an Amazon bestseller.
That’s no surprise to me!
Barbara Bregstein does a wonderful job at covering Spanish grammar comprehensively but in a simple and totally non-intimidating way.
She covers a lot but manages to write very casually so it’s easy to digest.
The book will introduce a topic – let’s say, the subjunctive for example – and give a really short spiel (not too overwhelming on the details) introducing the the topic with a few bullet points, and then get straight into practical examples.
The vocab lists could be better organized but other than that, it’s a terrific resource that you can reference long into your Spanish study.
Consider using Learning With Texts for Spanish (it ’s free)
So, Donovan’s written at length on a tool called Learning With Texts (LWT for short).
It’s a free and open source program that you can install on pretty much any computer (see installation instructions for LWT here) with some patience.
For languages like Spanish, it’s an amazing tool for helping you read texts.
It’s called an assisted reader.
If you’re not technically-minded, there is a paid alternative called LingQ which is very similar in function and has a large database of reading material on it.
The basic idea is that you take a Spanish story or article, copy the text into LWT (or LingQ), and then add the audio file if you want to.
Listening to Spanish while reading is definitely more beneficial!
You can then go along and click the words to highlight definitions, get translations, mark how well you know the term, and so on.
I recommend a site like The Fable Cottage for children’s Spanish texts with audio (free).
If you’re into reading and want to use reading material to help your Spanish, then I highly recommend installing LWT and using it as an assisted reader for Spanish content you find online.
Other Spanish resources, courses and alternatives to books
Of course, there are so many great alternative resources for learning Spanish.
You can head over to the Spanish resource page for starters, but if you’re looking for a few quick ideas, here are a couple of great ones:
Earworms Spanish: This is a really unique phrasebook alternative for Spanish.
It uses a scientifically-backed (and very unique) method to help you remember words and phrases by playing it over the top of catchy music. Donovan wrote a review of Earworms before.
It covers both European and Latin American varieties, and is only a couple of bucks.
SpanishPod101: For the podcast learner.
SpanishPod101 (part of the Innovative series) is one of the most popular platforms for learning Spanish these days.
It has a massive library of lesson content for Spanish learners.
Rocket Spanish: Probably the most comprehensive online course for Spanish covering multiple levels.
Rocket has a very structured, linear format taking you through each lesson from start to finish. For someone brand new to Spanish and an inexperienced language learner, it’s perfect.
More expensive definitely but a lot more overall value and long-term use.
italki: This should be part of every Spanish student’s toolkit.
It eliminates the need to travel to Europe or Latin America. You can book an inexpensive voice or video lesson through italki (many are less than $10 per hour).
Glossika Spanish: This is a very unique platform that teaches Spanish fluency through spaced-repetition of sentences.
Like Earworms, it’s available in both European Spanish and Latin American Spanish.
Any Spanish books or resources I should add here?
NO ADVERTISING. Links will be automatically flagged for moderation.
Great list! I am using a dictionary by the Cervantes Institute and “A Good Spanish Book!” I think it’s one of the best books to learn Spanish that I have found. Always happy to try new materials!
I tried a few different books since my wife and I decided to move to a Spanish-speaking country to be closer to her relatives. So far the best Spanish book I found is ‘A Good Spanish Book!’ by University Academic Editions. Written by a Spanish Professor. Clear explanations and all that, I combine it with online exercises from different websites to practice irregular tenses.
I have an almost complete collection of Practice Makes Perfect. Grammar and Pronouns and Prepositions are good basic books!
I am now using sources from this list (since you’re asking what else you can add). I found there a Tandem (a communication app - also not a resource for learning, but for practice), as well as many dictionaries (these are always useful).
Thank you for sharing, I will take a look at other books on your list - I really like printed formats with the ability to write and mark something right in the books.
Once you get to the intermediate level, “Breaking out of Beginner’s Spanish” by Joseph Keenan is an invaluable resource. This book covers a lot of the cultural context of the language (mostly in a Latin American setting), so you better understand when and when not to use certain phrases and words. It also goes into the deeper means of commonly used words that do not show up in a simple dictionary explanation. It is a great book to help you avoid embarrassing mistakes and to better understand the language in its culture.
Nice list Jada! I used to have Spanish step-by-step in high school, 15 years ago or so. Nowadays my best choice would have to be “A Good Spanish Book!”. It starts from the basics and goes into upper-intermediate levels. I think it’s the best book to learn Spanish right now. I also have the conversation guide by Lonely Planet and it’s also recommendable for a quick trip or so. It’s important to choose books that are written by natives of that language to make sure the contents and cultural approach is updated and relevant. Thanks for the article!