12 Best Books to Learn Spanish in 2023
One of the best resources for learning a language is books.
Old-fashioned, I know, but books are some of the most valuable tools you can use while learning Spanish—they don’t expire, you don’t need a monthly subscription, they’re in-depth and they’ve been trusted for decades.
Our team here at FluentU is full of avid Spanish learners that have realized the value of books on our own learning journeys. This list compiles our personal recommendations for the 12 best books to learn Spanish in 2023 that you can pick up right now.
Let’s get into it.
- Best Books on Spanish Grammar
- Best Books for Spanish Vocabulary
- Best Books for Learning Conversational Spanish
- Best Books for Spanish Reading Skills
If you’re the visual sort and like getting your information from videos, you might want to check out this round up of excellent books to learn Spanish. You’ll find even more resources, allowing you to top off your Spanish textbook library!
Best Books on Spanish Grammar
Did you know that there are over 10 different tenses in Spanish?
Don’t be scared.
All it means is that you need patience and excellent books to help you learn what you need to improve your grammar-related skills over time.
Let’s look at the best books on the market that’ll assist you in achieving just that.
Most In-depth: “Practice Makes Perfect Complete Spanish Grammar”
This edition of the “Practice Makes Perfect” series is a 350-page workbook covering the most important Spanish grammar rules.
There are clear explanations, many realistic examples and free online audio recordings to practice your listening skills.
The good thing about this book is that it offers various exercises for different learning styles, like multiple-choice questions, fill-in-the-blank games and creative writing exercises.
Plus, the structure is easy to follow.
Best Intermediate to Advanced: “Advanced Spanish Step-by-Step”
This book covers intermediate to advanced Spanish grammar in an easy, progressive manner.
You’ll start with a review of the basics before diving into the grammar rules needed for confident communication.
Lessons cover important Spanish grammar topics like complex verb tenses, parts of speech, sentence structure and more.
And along the way, you’ll learn plenty of vocabulary you’ll use in real conversation.
Before choosing this book, make sure you’ve reached an intermediate Spanish level. Otherwise, you may get a bit overwhelmed by the content and exercises, as they’re quite detailed and extensive.
Best Advanced Grammar Book: “Practice Makes Perfect: Advanced Spanish Grammar”
This is kind of the 2.0 version of the previous “Practice Makes Perfect” book. It goes into the intricate details of Spanish and is aimed at intermediate to advanced students.
It features many practical exercises to help you communicate more naturally.
This breaks free from the ready-to-use sentences found in other books and encourages you to create more sophisticated phrases as you go along.
If you already have a good grasp of Spanish and want to go beyond the fundamental principles, this edition of the “Practice Makes Perfect” series is a great option!
Best Books for Spanish Vocabulary
How can you increase your vocabulary as quickly as possible without spending endless hours reciting words from a dictionary?
Reading in Spanish regularly is a fantastic way to learn new words. Here are my top recommendations for books specifically for learning vocab.
Most Visual: “Oxford Picture Dictionary English-Spanish”
This book is a bilingual picture dictionary. Every term in this dictionary is illustrated with contextual drawings (it’s pretty handy, believe me!).
It’s organized into 12 themed units that cover various aspects of life like people, housing, food, recreation and more.
The dictionary features stories, role plays, clear visual descriptions of words and dialogues to help you learn new vocabulary quickly.
It’s not a classic dictionary—you can easily read a page per day and get a lot out of it.
Plus, it’s all visual, so it’ll take you three to five minutes to do so!
Best for Absolute Beginners: “See It and Say It in Spanish”
This book teaches level-one Spanish vocabulary through pictures using two specific techniques.
First, it uses the word and picture method. Each new word or sentence is accompanied by a line drawing that instantly explains its meaning.
Second, the ready-made vocabulary presents you with everyday Spanish words and phrases that look and sound like their English equivalents to ease you into conversational Spanish faster.
These two methods pack a powerful punch, and the book gives you the vocabulary to express yourself quickly and meaningfully in Spanish.
Most Efficient: “2000 Most Common Spanish Words in Context”
This book teaches you the most frequently-used 2,000 Spanish words, allowing you to understand the majority of words used in everyday conversations fast.
Every word comes with example sentences showing how to use it in conversation—a feature that will likely be the most useful.
The format of this book is very simple, making it easy to read and understand.
Finally, it’ll set a foundation for your Spanish vocabulary before you move on to more advanced terms and phrases.
Best Books for Learning Conversational Spanish
It can be tricky to improve your speaking skills if you don’t have anybody to speak Spanish with daily, but with the right tools, you can still gain the knowledge and confidence you need to hold conversations.
FluentU is one example of a tool that can boost your Spanish-speaking ability.
The language learning program exposes you to the language as it’s used by native Spanish speakers through movie clips, inspirational talks, music videos and more. These clips are accompanied by tools to enhance your learning, like interactive subtitles and personalized quizzes.
But believe it or not, you can also get better at speaking by reading specific books designed to help Spanish learners with their conversational skills. Let’s take a look at how these books work.
Best for Everyday Conversations: “Practice Makes Perfect: Spanish Conversation”
This book helps you develop a confident and spontaneous speaking style by training you with real-world examples and engaging exercises.
It’s organized into 12 units that present realistic conversational situations like making introductions, giving opinions, going on a date or telling a story.
Each chapter starts with a dialogue, followed by various exercises to put what you learned into practice.
And even better, it contains clear instructions on correct pronunciation, syntax, word usage and how to employ conversation-ready phrases.
An English-to-Spanish and Spanish-to-English glossary is also included to help you along.
It’s important to note that this book is intended for intermediate learners. However, you might benefit from it if you’re just a beginner up for a challenge—or an advanced learner with lagging speaking skills (which is quite common).
Best Audio: “Living Language Spanish, Complete Edition”
Living Language is a huge multimedia Spanish program that contains three books (beginner, intermediate and advanced) and nine CDs (three for each level).
It’s well organized with topic-based chapters (instead of lesson-based chapters like in most courses), and the goal is to teach you conversational Spanish more than anything else.
The CDs work together with the books—they’re the main feature of the course, rather than just a gimmick (as is the case with some products).
They’re high-quality, clear and well-modulated recordings with the speaking rate set at a learner-appropriate speed.
As you progress through the chapters and CDs, things start to pick up. You’ll learn new words, sentence structures and conjugations in each chapter.
And here’s the icing on the cake: It’s pretty darn barato (cheap) for the amount of material you’ll be getting.
Best for Conversation Practice: “Collins Easy Learning: Spanish Conversation”
The book consists of 12 units, each focusing on a specific situation (formal or informal).
They include themes such as school, home, social media and business. Each unit’s key phrases are compiled at the end, forming an accessible, quick-access glossary.
Of course, when learning conversation, you’ll need to do more than memorize sentences. The book also provides quick grammar and verb lessons to help you break down the phrases.
Plus, plenty of example sentences are provided to illustrate points.
This book can make a great resource that gets you comfortable with the essentials and expectations of Spanish conversation. It can work well as a stand-alone reference or a supplement to any other learning books you use.
Best Books for Spanish Reading Skills
Getting your hands on a Spanish reader or two is an absolute must if you want to improve your reading skills.
They’re books specifically written for Spanish learners, making it easier to get acclimated to the language. They also usually include a glossary, grammar footnotes and even vocabulary lists.
Now, which Spanish reader should you get?
Most Time-efficient: “Spanish Short Stories for Beginners: Easy Spanish Stories”
Short stories are an incredibly fun way to get reading practice, and this book features 20 bite-sized ones that make Spanish studies less like a chore.
Every story in the book is formatted to teach you specific Spanish language concepts.
Summaries are provided in Spanish and English to give the basic plots, and a glossary and questionnaires come at the end to help you review and practice what you’ve learned.
Although the title states that the book is for beginners, it may be more suitable for intermediate learners. The Spanish used in some stories can be a bit challenging, so the book may not be the best first choice for true novices.
Most Beginner-friendly: “Spanish Novels: Muerte en Buenos Aires”
This reader tells a detective story taking place in Buenos Aires.
It features many short chapters written with simple grammar, vocabulary and sentences so that everything stays easy to read.
You’ll learn lots of useful vocabulary about different topics (like greetings, talking to friends and strangers, etc.).
Read one chapter per day and you should improve ¡muy rápido! (very quickly!)
If you’re bored studying isolated sentences in Spanish, this book is calling you. Put all your known Spanish vocabulary into a natural context, and pick up new words through the surrounding context.
Most Advanced: “Spanish Novels: El Día Del Juicio”
This mystery story contains more advanced Spanish that requires you to be able to read longer passages and comprehend more complex sentence structures.
It’ll challenge the more advanced reader but still be simple enough to understand the story.
While more difficult, this book still has shorter chapters that make it easy to fit reading Spanish into your daily routine without being too time-consuming.
So, there you have them!
Pick some Spanish learning books from my list or find your own picks, and use the advice in this article to get the most out of each title.
Don’t be afraid to branch out and read books written in Spanish that aren’t specifically for learners to broaden your horizons, either.