Free Spanish e-books are coming your way.
And this resource is honestly too good to ignore.
No matter your level, you can easily find free Spanish e-books to suit your needs.
Even if you think you’re not yet at the right reading level, challenging yourself with something slightly more difficult than what you’re comfortable with can have exponential benefits.
I promise, you know more Spanish than you think you do!
To get you on board smoothly and quickly, here’s a short, quick guide to show how you can take advantage of this tool—including a list of my top 10 recommendations of free e-books en español.
Why Reading in Spanish Will Improve Your Language Skills
- Reading is considered more effective than watching television. Even reading at a slower pace than what you’re used to exposes you to more sentences per minute than the average telenovela.
Definitely don’t stop watching Spanish TV, but rather start balancing it out with reading time. Plus, sentences from these books are usually more developed and complex than just casual conversation you might hear.
- Reading also teaches you new vocabulary words via context clues. Think about it…when reading in your native tongue, and a new word comes up, you can somehow guess its meaning simply by the sentence’s syntax, or structure.
For example, take the sentences, “He had an acute sense of smell! He could identify a dozen flavors with one inhale.” The word, “acute” obviously means something positive and well-developed. This trick applies to Spanish as well, so use it to learn new words without relying on a dictionary all the time.
- Conversational learning is not enough to reach an upper level of competence. This includes mastering more complex verb tenses, as well as vocabulary acquisition.
Conversation is often very casual and topics are at the whim of all parties involved. Relying on others for your language instruction not only limits you, but can be a real gamble.
- Reading books is intellectually stimulating. Developed plot lines and diverse genres will keep you interested for an extended period of time.
Think about your favorite book in your native tongue. Didn’t you fly through it because you were so engulfed in the story? That’s what reading in a second language can be like!
- Experience genius literary works in their original language. Once you reach a middle- to upper-level competency, you can enjoy the works of lauded Hispanic authors—like Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende and Pablo Neruda—which deserve to be read in their original language.
Why Read E-books in Spanish?
So we know that reading is important, but what’s so special about e-books?
- E-books are affordable (and often free). If money’s no object, then by all means, pay for books and e-books—you’ll get a greater range of selection.
But for most of us, we need to start being more creative with our learning strategies. It’s much easier to peruse free e-books on the internet rather than to look for cheap Spanish paperbacks at the local Goodwill.
Plus, many public libraries have digital lending programs, so you can even place holds and “check out” e-books online!
- E-books are mobile, compact by volume and convenient. While I will forever be a fan of print, I can’t deny the utility of e-books and the simplicity of highlighting and defining new phrases or words. I can access the same e-book on my smartphone, tablet and laptop. There really is no excuse to not read.
- They can be printed. If you’re still not sold on e-reading, note that you can even download free e-books in PDF format and print them, if you like!
While this isn’t very economical—nor ecological—(and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have access to an industrial, corporate style printer), I have done this before and find it useful, as well. Or, for some close reading, just print out a page or two and then go to town marking it up with colorful pens.
- You can use them to reinforce other learning methods. Of course, you can’t learn Spanish solely through reading! But e-books make excellent supplementary learning material, and they can help you check if the things you’re learning are actually sticking in your memory.
And since you already have your mobile device in your hand, you can just hop from your e-book to your favorite language-learning app, like FluentU. Read, listen and watch with authentic videos in combination with your e-book reading and FluentU’s authentic videos that double as interactive language lessons. It’s a power-combo!
How to Learn Spanish with Free E-books
You can definitely teach yourself Spanish with e-books if you start out slow and take the time to read syntax and context clues. Here are some tips to help you get started.
- Start small. Begin with fables and folk stories that you are already familiar with, such as Aesop’s Fables. If you already have an inkling of where the plot is going, it’s easier to follow along if the vocab becomes confusing.
- Think local. Read about your area in Spanish. For example, I’m reading “The Shadow of the Wind” right now and live in Barcelona. If you don’t live in the exotic setting of a Spanish novel, choose one from a place you would like to visit. Many authors are inspired by the Caribbean and Latin America, for example.
- Alternate between English and Spanish copies. If you find the reading a little too difficult, but don’t want to go down a level, read one chapter in English, then read the same chapter in Spanish. I like to employ this technique with fantasy novels because there is so much new vocabulary specific to that genre.
- Download a Spanish dictionary. Use a Spanish-Spanish dictionary so the definition appears in Spanish when the word is highlighted, or simply change the settings on your Kindle app to “Spanish” and restart the application. Now, when you highlight a word, the definition will appear in Spanish as well.
- Highlight, highlight, highlight. Highlight new vocabulary words you don’t know, and at the end of each chapter, write them down in your notebook for future review.
You can also highlight your favorite passages and use them for a future project, like room decor or holiday cards.
Where to Find Free Spanish E-books Online
There are lots of different websites and formats to choose from. Every time you think you understand how vast the internet is, it honestly gets bigger.
To name a few websites:
- Loyal Books: Loyal Books is a free public domain of audiobooks and e-book downloads in a wide array of genres and languages. The interface is in English so it might be good to start here for lower level speakers.
- Free Spanish E-books: This is a Spanish language site that requires free registration, but has a larger selection of Spanish language books.
They send you weekly emails reminding you of their deals as well, so that might be a good way to keep up with your reading.
- Gutenberg: The Gutenberg Project has almost 50,000 free e-books to download. The interface may seem antiquated, but I’m sure there are some great reads waiting to be found here!
- Many Books: Many Books has about 33,000 free e-books available for all formats of e-reading and a whole swathe of languages to choose from. They also request you sign up for an email list, which again could be a good reminder to keep up with your studies.
- Amazon Free Kindle Books: Everyone knows and loves Amazon. They literally have everything and are as user-friendly as social media sites.
If you didn’t know already, they have a free e-book section and if you simply switch to the Spanish version of the website, the free e-books will be in Spanish.
The easiest way is to download the Kindle Reading Application (available for desktop computers, tablets and smartphones) and then transfer the files to your devices—mobi or epub files work. Of course, the Amazon e-books will go directly to your reading application.
10 Free Spanish E-books You Can’t Afford to Miss
My recommendations below are ordered from easier to more difficult, with approximate levels for each to give you an idea. However, everyone has individual strengths and weaknesses so feel free to hop around to different levels!
1. “An Elementary Spanish Reader” by Earl Stanley Harrison
A1 | 123 pages
This Amazon e-book is comprised of 21 short stories, all designed for the novice Spanish speaker. There’s even a vocabulary index in the back!
This is a good place to start because the stories are short so you’re less likely to get discouraged.
2. “La Mitología para los niños” by Fernán Caballero
A1 | 248 pages
Remember high school mythology class with all the battles and love triangles and magical creatures? Well, this is a primer to give children an introduction to mythology.
It’s a little more advanced that the elementary reader above, but a good starting point, as it’s intended for children. Most of us are already a little familiar with Greek mythology, so some of the stories might be more understandable.
3. “Fortuna: Historia de un perro agradecido” by Enrique Pérez Escrich
A2 | 80 pages
Love animals? “Fortuna” is probably the most popular dog story in Spanish. It makes pleasant reading, it holds the reader’s interest throughout, and its language is clear and simple.
Pérez was a master of the serial story (or folletín) in which fictional dramas are characterized by an intense pace, implausible plot and psychological simplicity, making his works both entertaining and easy to understand.
4. “Los Extraños trabajos de Paulino y Eusebio” by Eloy Barba Dominguez
A2 | 80 pages
This is a story about working towards your dreams. It’s about two friends trying to become rock stars by buying the perfect drum set. They need money though and the story follows all the odd jobs they come across along the way.
This story is relatively short compared to the other suggestions, but it is very good for practicing the past tenses. Friendship, adventure, music. Who could want more?
5. “Novelas cortas” by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón
A2 | 251 pages
Written by acclaimed Andalusian author Pedro Antonio de Alarcón, these novelas were originally published in 1882 and offer insight into Spanish life and history.
They are short stories as well, so it’s easier to follow for a new learner. If you love historical fiction, this might be the choice for you!
6. “Spanish Tales for Beginners” by Louis Reinhardt and E.C. Hills
This collection contains multiple works by acclaimed Hispanic authors, including some poetry. This is another compilation you can jump around in to find something that grabs your attention.
I know the title says “Beginners,” but the content includes subjunctive and other advanced tenses, which I believe is more suited for learned at a level B.
7. “Vida de Lazarillo de Tormes” by Anonymous
B1 | 85 pages
If you’ve taken any formal Spanish literature classes during your studies, you have no doubt heard about Lazarillo. This piece is the first known modern Spanish novel, and its author is considered the founder of the picaresca literary genre.
This style of prose depicts the adventures of a lower class, roguish hero who lives by his wits in a corrupt society. The story follows a little boy, Lazarillo, who is left to become the apprentice to a blind man, while also serving other masters.
8. “El Sombrero de tres picos” by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón
B2 | 283 pages
Written by the same author as #5’s “Novelas cortas,” this story depicts the tale of a wealthy magistrate in love with a miller’s wife and his attempts to seduce her. Different century, same problems.
The story became so popular, it was eventually turned into a ballet.
9. “El Capitán Veneno” by Alarcón
B2 | 219 pages
Another by Alarcón, this is the story of a famed fire-eater. Set in mid-nineteenth century Spain and based on historical fact, the story follows a captain’s “domestication” through love during a time of social change, eventually leading to the strengthening and rethinking of societal principles.
10. “Don Quijote” by Miguel de Cervantes
C1 | 425 pages
Considered a Spanish masterpiece, Miguel de Cervantes’ novel follows a nameless hidalgo who sets out on an adventure under the name Don Quixote, and is later joined by farmer Sancho along the way.
Anyone at a C2 level is ready to peruse a bookstore and read like a native speaker!
So there you have it. A free, easy way to continue investing in your language education. Now get cracking!
And One More Thing for Your Spanish Learning Arsenal…
If you like learning Spanish, then you’ll love FluentU. FluentU takes real-world videos like music videos, commercials, news, and inspiring talks and turns them into Spanish learning experiences. In these videos, you’ll see your newly-acquired vocabulary in action.
In the real world, you may not pick up on new vocabulary straightaway. FluentU is designed for you to become familiarized with everyday Spanish, by combining all the benefits of total immersion and native level conversations with easy-to-read subtitles.
FluentU has a wide variety of videos—topics like soccer, TV shows, business, movies, and even magical realism, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. Didn’t catch something? Go back and listen again. Missed a word? Hover your mouse over the subtitles to instantly view definitions.
And FluentU isn’t just videos—it’s a complete language learning program. Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s Quiz Mode. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on. You’ll be able to create vocab lists and track your progress as you advance through video after video.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and it recommends you examples and videos based on the words you’ve already learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the App from iTunes or the Google Play store and bring FluentU’s innovative language-learning experience to your iOS and Android device. Become a master of Spanish faster than you ever thought possible!
Jenny is a twenty-something Master’s student, studying International Relations and Spanish. She loves traveling, reading and cooking. She hails from Detroit but is currently living in Barcelona, Spain. Keep up with her travels at: www.thespinningjenny.net
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.