The 9 Best Books to Learn Italian Fluently

Kelsey Wetherbee Published on January 11, 2023
Best books to learn Italian

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Italian is one of the most spoken languages in Europe, and speaking it can deepen your understanding of Italy’s rich culture, art, history, and more. Books are proven to be one of the most convenient ways to study Italian regardless of the level where you start because of the variety of language themes they cover. Italian language books provide thorough explanations that can introduce you to basic concepts like sentence structure or vocabulary as well as explain more complicated topics like verb conjugation, context, and colloquialisms. In this guide, we’ve chosen the 9 best books to help you reach your Italian language goals in no time.

Italian is one of the most studied second languages, and for good reason. Italy is a cultural hub and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. There also seems to be a romance around learning Italian, and not just because it’s a Romance language. Does Romeo and Juliet ring a bell? Ok, so the ending is tragic, but your experience learning Italian doesn’t have to be! In addition to the smooth sounds of the language, the hand gestures, and facial expressions will make anyone fall in love with learning this beautiful language.

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Upper Intermediate
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How We Picked the Best Books to Learn Italian

For any language learning products we’ve tested or researched, we follow a strict testing methodology to make sure our experts make the same considerations. Here are the factors we looked at when testing Italian textbooks specifically:

  • Structure and Topics: We took into consideration how easy it was to navigate each book’s content and lessons. We also looked for useful extra features like glossaries, answer key sheets, English-Italian translations, and more.
  • Quality of Content: To verify the quality of each book, we checked the complexity of its content, whether or not they provided detailed explanations for grammar topics, how they treated the cultural aspects of the language, and if they fulfilled their goal effectively.
  • Features Available: We reviewed additional features like audio tracks, mobile apps, flashcards, recordings, and other tools to verify that they were useful resources for Italian students.
  • Value for Money: We took the three previous factors and compared them to the price of each book to determine if they are valuable and convenient resources for Italian language students.

Our Top Picks for Best Italian Books

Below is a table with the best books to learn the Italian language. Scroll down to learn more about each one.

Best Overall Italian BookComplete Italian All-in-One
Best for BeginnersItalian: A Self-Teaching Guide
Best for Self-StudyComplete Italian Step-by-Step
Most Comprehensive BookItalian All-in-One For Dummies
Best for Italian GrammarItalian Grammar for Beginners
Best for TravelEasy Italian Phrase Book
Best for Reading in ItalianShort Stories in Italian for Beginners
Best for Verb ConjugationsBarron’s 501 Italian Verbs
Best for Speaking ItalianConversational Italian Dialogues

Complete Italian All-in-One

Best Overall Italian Book

Complete Italian All-in-One is the best overall book to learn Italian because you practice all skills, such as grammar, vocabulary, and conversation. It combines 5 different workbooks in one extensive volume that explains language topics for the beginner to advanced levels. The book has a variety of exercises and examples so you can understand how to build sentences, use vocabulary in different contexts, conjugate verbs, and more. Due to its structure, each lesson is always expanding on the previous one. For example, you can learn about the common nouns and gender patterns, and see altered and compound nouns later on. If you want to use the book for self-study, there’s an answer key on the back of the book that you can use to check your answers and make sure that you understand the content.

The book also comes with access to a mobile app with flashcards and audio tracks to make your study time more interactive and engage you in the learning process. Once you download the app to your phone, you can use it to reinforce what you learned with the book or to improve your listening and comprehension skills. Many books don’t include listening practice, so it’s nice to see that the Complete Italian All-in-One book has an option for Italian language students who want a comprehensive study method. Overall, I think its additional features and the quality of the content justify its price and make it a helpful resource to learners of all levels. Discover if this is the right book for you here.

Key Benefits

  • The book teaches you the basics you need to build a foundation in Italian and develop your skills, including vocabulary, grammar, speaking, and listening
  • Complete hundreds of activities to practice and reinforce what you learn
  • Access the mobile app to practice with flashcards and listen to the audio tracks to continue studying while you are on the go

Italian: A Self-Teaching Guide

Best for Beginners

Italian: A Self-Teaching Guide focuses on everyday situations and teaches the basic grammar and vocabulary needed to navigate them. This is the best book for beginners because it allows you to learn useful words and phrases for real-world scenarios at your own pace and in whichever order you prefer. The book also has clear explanations that teach you grammar and common usage to help you start applying the language in the real world, like how to handle a medical visit or a phone call. With Italian: A Self-Teaching Guide, you can develop your reading, writing, vocabulary, and grammar skills and build a solid foundation in Italian.

The book includes short dialogues and conversation tips which I thought was one of the most helpful aspects if you want to communicate with native speakers without struggle. You can find cultural insights that explain idioms, expressions, and even hand gestures Italian native speakers use to communicate with one another, so you can understand 100% of the conversations. Because this book doesn’t have audio playlists to teach you pronunciation, it might work better when combined with other audiovisual resources. Check to see if you like the book here.

Key Benefits

  • Learn everyday phrases, idioms, and gestures for real-world scenarios and learn to communicate like Italians
  • Practice having conversations with natural-sounding dialogues to develop your conversational skills
  • Read insightful notes about Italy and discover its history and culture

Complete Italian Step-by-Step

Best for Self-Study

Complete Italian Step-by-Step is the best book for self-study because it uses a building block approach to teach Italian grammar and vocabulary. You can find content for beginner to advanced Italian students, and follow the book’s structured lesson plan to ensure a natural progression. There are 30 chapters that focus on communication for everyday use and explain different grammar topics like nouns, tenses, idioms, and more.

While the book has many examples that show you how to apply the language, all the explanations are in English. Since the book was designed for self-study, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially for complete beginners. Besides, the book includes plenty of reading comprehension practice and an answer key, so you can test your knowledge and verify that you truly understand Italian. In my opinion, due to its progressive structure, this book can be an effective tool to study the language on your own and tackle all the necessary information without feeling overwhelmed. You can grab your copy of the book here.

Key Benefits

  • Follow a structured lesson plan to move onto the next level
  • Provides thorough vocabulary and grammar explanations that constantly expand on what you previously learned
  • Complete different practice exercises to measure your vocabulary, grammar, and reading skills

Italian All-in-One For Dummies

Most Comprehensive Book

Italian All-in-One for Dummies is the most comprehensive book because it covers all the language aspects you need to master the language. With nearly 700 pages, it encompasses six different books from the Italian for Dummies series, so you’re sure to have something new to learn! The book is divided into sections that extensively cover grammar, vocabulary, verb tenses, and more, to help you find what you’re looking for quickly. Also, there’s plenty of additional material to accompany you in your studies, like a mini Italian-English dictionary, useful phrases and expressions, as well as verb tables that show you how to correctly conjugate verbs.

In my opinion, this is the best option you can choose if you only want to include a book in your study routine. All the explanations and tables are clear and thorough, and provide helpful examples to showcase what they teach you. You can start by studying Italian words you already know and move to topics like finding a place to stay and handling emergencies. I really liked the progressive way in which the book introduces you to the basics because it’s very similar to how you first learn your mother tongue. It doesn’t matter if you’re a complete beginner or an advanced learner, you can use the Italian All-in-One For Dummies to clarify any doubts you have about the Italian language. Learn more about the book here.

Key Benefits

  • Fits 6 books in 1 to teach you everything you need to know about Italian
  • Includes additional materials like a dictionary, phrasebook, verb tables, and more to make your study sessions easier
  • You can download audio to practice listening and understanding Italian

Italian Grammar for Beginners

Best for Italian Grammar

Italian Grammar for Beginners is an excellent choice for language learners who like to know “why?” because it provides clear explanations for the most important Italian grammar topics. The idea is that you spend 30 minutes a day for 25 days to gain a basic level of Italian and create an effective study habit. To do this, you complete 25 lessons that focus on the basic rules of the Italian language without fluff or frills. The lessons touch on topics like regular and irregular verbs, pronouns, prepositions, the simple future tense, and much more, so this is a complete way to address Italian grammar. Note that while this is a great way to learn essential grammar, the book doesn’t bother with the exceptions to Italian grammar rules.

For me, Italian Grammar for Beginners is a great resource because of its straightforward approach and the amount of practice exercises it offers in its built-in workbook. Because learning grammar involves going over different types of conjugations, tenses, and pronouns, it’s better to learn through practice than through memorization. This book has tons of multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank exercises so you can check your understanding and practice applying what you learned. The book also has additional audio recordings from native speakers, which can help you develop your listening and pronunciation skills as you go. You can learn more about Italian Grammar for Beginners here.

Key Benefits

  • Introduces Italian grammar rules with clear yet concise explanations to help you learn the basics without struggle
  • Use the built-in workbook to practice applying grammar rules instead of relying on memorization
  • Listen to audio recordings voiced by speakers to develop your listening and pronunciation skills

Easy Italian Phrase Book

Best for Travel

The Easy Italian Phrase Book is the best book you can take if you’re traveling to a place where Italian is spoken because it has conversational phrases you can use in every possible scenario. The book has 1,500 common phrases divided into useful topics like transportation, medicine, and ordering food. Each phrase has an English translation as well as phonetic pronunciations so you can pronounce and speak the words with ease.

I recommend this book to learners with previous experience with Italian because of the amount of detail it offers. For example, if you’re struggling with the sounds, the book includes a detailed pronunciation guide to help you with the sounds of Italian. Considering that this is an area of the language most English speakers struggle with when they start learning, I think it makes it a valuable resource for those who want to be able to communicate with native speakers on their trip to Italy. See if Easy Italian Phrase Book has what you’re looking for here.

Key Benefits

  • Learn how to say and pronounce 1,500+ Italian phrases to communicate in common scenarios
  • The book is divided into topics to help you find what you’re looking for quickly
  • Its pronunciation guide shows you how to pronounce each word and phrase correctly

Short Stories in Italian for Beginners

Best for Reading in Italian

Short Stories in Italian for Beginners has 8 stories to help introduce you to reading in Italian. This is the best book to start reading Italian because it has entertaining stories of different genres for beginners and more advanced students. The stories focus on the most commonly used words and have natural-sounding dialogue so you can see how people really speak the language. They get progressively harder, which helps you learn new vocabulary and more complex sentence structures with ease.

I wanted to include this book in this list because there aren’t many books that offer complete stories for Italian students of all levels. Most textbooks include fragments of a text, but it’s not the same as reading a complete story to test how well you follow the language and plot in Italian. Each story in this book has a word list, plot summary, comprehension questions, and introduces a good amount of new words so it’s safe to say that it can help you take your reading skills to the next level. Grab your copy of this book here.

Key Benefits

  • Read 8 different beginner-friendly stories that get progressively harder to develop your reading comprehension skills
  • Each story has a plot summary and comprehension questions to ensure you understand
  • There’s an Italian-English glossary so you can find the meaning of each word without interrupting your study

Barron’s 501 Italian Verbs

Best for Verb Conjugations

Barron’s 501 Italian Verbs is a reference manual of how to conjugate verbs in Italian. This is the best book to learn Italian verb forms because it shows you how to conjugate them in all the tenses and which ones you’re most likely to encounter in daily life. Each conjugation comes with an English translation and explanations to the “whys” and “hows” so you don’t have to rely completely on memorization.

If you want to be able to talk like a native speaker of Italian, knowing the correct conjugation for the verbs is a must. This is one of the trickiest parts of learning a new language, so books like Barron’s 501 Italian Verbs can make a difference in how well you get to know and speak the language. The book comes with a bunch of useful material in the appendix, including a list of irregular verbs, verbs used with prepositions, a concise grammar review, and access to online practice to test your knowledge and understanding. I recommend this book to beginners who are struggling with verb conjugation and advanced learners who want to test their knowledge of Italian grammar. Learn more about Barron’s 501 Italian Verbs here.

Key Benefits

  • Study 501 verbs fully conjugated in all tenses to fully understand all kinds of Italian phrases
  • The book provides concise grammar reviews that break down verb conjugation
  • The new edition includes online practice questions to make your study sessions more interactive

Conversational Italian Dialogues

Best for Speaking Italian

Conversational Italian Dialogues has over 100 dialogues and short stories to help you speak Italian fast. This is the best book to have at hand if you want to focus on learning conversational language for common situations like renting a car, going to the doctor, and booking a hotel. All the stories use natural phrases in their dialogues and include translations to make understanding easier for beginners.

One of the things most people fear when they learn a new language is to make embarrassing mistakes when they decide to talk with native speakers. However, there’s no way around it if you want to become fluent in Italian, and Conversational Italian Dialogues can give you what you need to start communicating without having to worry about misusing words or expressions. The book recommends you practice the dialogues, either alone or with a friend or teacher. Learning to speak a new language with a book might seem impossible, but I think this book has everything you need to practice speaking and hearing Italian at your own pace. See what you think about the book here.

Key Benefits

  • Practice speaking Italian with 100+ dialogues and short stories and begin to adapt to using the language in conversations
  • Includes English translations to help beginners understand
  • Provides tips and tricks for learning conversational Italian

Other Italian Books We Researched

In addition to the books included in this list, we also looked at more Italian books. Here are a couple of books that didn’t make the list:

  • Italian in 10 Minutes a Day: This book can help beginner and advanced Italian students learn useful conversational phrases with its workbook and software combo. The book is filled with interactive exercises and comes with lots of additional material, including flashcards, a language map, and a pronunciation guide, but its activities and games might be too simple to ensure constant progress.
  • Rick Steves Italian Phrase Book and Dictionary: This is a pocket-sized book that can come in handy if you want to review different conversational phrases while you are traveling through Italy. It’s good if you need to refresh your knowledge or quickly add phrases and words to your vocabulary, but it won’t help you learn the language in the long run.
  • 50 Italian Coffee Breaks: This book can teach you basic Italian conversational phrases and useful language in a short amount of time. While its content is suitable for complete beginners, it might not be enough to help more advanced language students navigate more complex language topics like conjugation, sentence structure, or cultural context.

Why You Should Use Books To Learn Italian

Books are a traditional, but proven, way to study Italian. There are options for every type of learner and every level. If you’re just starting to learn Italian, a comprehensive textbook that works on all language skills will be the most beneficial. Once you’re more advanced, you can move on to books that were originally written in Italian or other authentic material like newspapers and blog posts.

Books are also an inexpensive and easy way to learn. They often cost less than a few months of a language app, and can be used anywhere. For some learners, putting pen to paper and using a physical book are much more effective than digital material and can help you remember more in a shorter time span.

How To Use Books To Learn Italian

Finding the right book for you is only step one on your language-learning journey. Next, it’s time to create a study routine that you’ll actually stick to. It’s better to study for a little bit every day or at least a few times a week to see improvement and remember what you learn.

While books are an excellent way to study Italian, they’re best used in addition to other language resources. For example, a book can give you detailed grammar explanations, but an Italian language app might be a more effective and entertaining way to learn vocabulary. Or taking an online Italian course is good if you prefer a more structured way to learn.

Best Books To Learn Italian- Final Thoughts

Hopefully you’ve found a book on this list that can help make studying Italian easy and enjoyable. When you find the right one, it will make it easier to stick with studying. The great part of Amazon is that you can read what other reviewers say about the book and check if the book comes with additional resources, such as a CD, online audio, or app so you can take full advantage of all the tools you’re given. With consistent study, you’ll be speaking Italian before you know it. Ciao for now!

Best Books To Learn Italian: FAQ

Can you learn Italian from a book?

Yes, you can learn Italian from reading a book, but what type of book you should use depends on your level. Beginners will benefit more from using a comprehensive textbook that practices all language skills like reading, writing, listening, and speaking. There are many quality options for beginners who want to self-study Italian, such as Complete Italian Step-by-Step. Once you reach an intermediate or advanced level, you can read authentic Italian literature.

What is a good book to learn Italian reading?

If you want to improve your Italian reading skills, you can try a short story book such as Short Stories in Italian for Beginners. This book has 8 short stories that use the most commonly used words and grammar structures. There are also word lists, plot summaries, and comprehension questions.

How can I teach myself Italian?

There are many ways to teach yourself Italian, but one of the most effective is to use a high-quality language book. A comprehensive textbook introduces important Italian grammar topics and vocabulary. Many include workbooks or practice questions to check your comprehension. You can also teach yourself Italian with a language app or take an online course.

What’s the best book to learn Italian?

The best all-around book to learn Italian is Complete Italian All-in-One. It combines 5 different workbooks in this extensive volume. You practice all skills, such as grammar, vocabulary, and conversation. There are concise explanations and practice exercises with an answer key in the back of the book. It can be used for self-study or with a tutor.

Kelsey Wetherbee

Kelsey is the Content Manager and Editor of Langoly. She is a TEFL-certified English teacher with more than eight years of classroom experience in three different countries. She’s an avid language learner with an advanced level of Spanish and is currently studying French. Whenever possible, she loves to travel and enjoys meeting people from all over the world. Connect with Kelsey on LinkedIn.

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