The 9 Best Books to Learn Spanish (And 3 to Practice Reading!)

Kelsey Wetherbee Published on May 13, 2024
Best books to learn Spanish

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There’s a good reason people use books to learn Spanish – they work! Instead of having to search for answers, tips, and examples around the web, you can open a book and find the information you need, all in one place. But finding the right book for you can be time-consuming if you don’t know what to look for. 

To save you time, I’ve created a list of the 9 best books to learn Spanish. I’ve broken them down by which levels they’re best for (beginner to advanced), why they’re helpful, and an overview of what each book covers. I’ve also included some book recommendations to go beyond typical language-learning books and really immerse yourself in Spanish!

How We Picked the Best Books to Learn Spanish

For any language learning products we’ve tested or researched, we follow a strict testing methodology to make sure we’re only recommending the best. Here are the factors we looked at when testing Spanish textbooks specifically:

  • Structure and Topics: We looked for books that were easy to navigate and had content organized in a logical way. We also looked for useful tools like glossaries, answer keys, English-Spanish translations, phonetic pronunciations, and more.
  • Quality of Content: We checked each book to make sure its content was fit for all levels of Spanish learners and that it was actually useful content that wasn’t overwhelming or confusing. 
  • Features Available: For a more comprehensive study experience, we looked for books with additional materials, like audio tracks, mobile apps, flashcards, and other helpful tools.
  • Value for Money: We took the three previous factors and compared them to the price of each book to determine if they are worth the money for Spanish language students.

Our List of the Top Books to Learn Spanish

There’s a wide variety of books that can help you learn Spanish.  By choosing a book that fits your needs, you can target the Spanish language skills you want to develop or answer questions about the language. Each book offers something different, so depending on what you want to learn, some books are better than others.

To help you find the best option for you, I’ve listed these books according to their areas of strength and who they can help. This way, you can easily tell which option is best for you. Here’s the list of the top books to learn Spanish:

Best Overall: Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish

Who Should Use This Book: Complete Beginner to Pre-Intermediate

Why This Book is Helpful:

  • You start learning using the words that are the same in Spanish and English (there are a lot of them!)
  • It uses a unique approach to teach you how to understand and form Spanish words using the roots and endings of English words.
  • There are tests to help you measure your progress and make sure you understand everything along the way

If you’re looking for a book that can guide you throughout your Spanish studies, Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish is the best overall option. This book starts by teaching you the Spanish you already know (like borrowed words from English). Each lesson places words into different categories according to their endings and gives you the tips and tricks you need to quickly identify them. 

This is a fresh approach that makes studying Spanish a logical and easy process. If you’ve ever struggled to understand verb conjugation, articles, and personal pronouns, this book uses examples from the English language to untangle your doubts. This book was designed to help English speakers learn Spanish, which is one of the reasons why it is so helpful for beginner learners. It also includes tests you can use to measure your progress. If you’re a fan of art, there are also cool original illustrations by Andy Warhol! Check out the book here.

Best for Beginners: Spanish All-in-One for Dummies

Who Should Use This Book: Complete Beginner to Pre-Intermediate

Why This Book is Helpful:

  • It compiles 4 books into 1 to teach you all you need to communicate in Spanish in real life
  • It has simple and clear explanations and examples that help you understand tricky grammar topics that a lot of learners struggle with
  • There are audio clips included so you can develop your listening comprehension skills in addition to improving your reading and writing

Spanish All-in-One for Dummies is the best book for beginner Spanish learners because it focuses on teaching you the Spanish you need the most. You start with the most basic topics (like the sound of the alphabet letters) and similarities with English and progressively move to essential phrases and grammar. This book combines the four books in the Spanish for Dummies series, so it’s a complete guide for beginners. If you want to see how long it will take you to go from a beginner to intermediate level, check out our fluency calculator below.

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By introducing you to the most important information first, this book makes tricky topics like verb conjugation and gendered articles a lot less intimidating. Even if you don’t have any experience with Spanish, the clear examples and explanations build the foundation you need to make steady progress. It also comes with audio tracks voiced by native Spanish speakers to teach you the correct pronunciation for each word and phrase. You can learn more about the book here.

Best for Self-Guided Learning: Practice Makes Perfect: Complete Spanish All-in-One

Who Should Use This Book: Complete Beginner to Pre-Advanced

Why This Book is Helpful:

  • It combines 5 books into 1 to teach you essential Spanish vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, listening, and speaking
  • There are 500+ exercises and an answer key to check your progress while you learn
  • You get access to an app with audio and voice recognition features so you can improve your conversational skills

If you want to learn Spanish on your own, Practice Makes Perfect: Complete Spanish All-in-One is the best option because it covers all aspects of the language. This comprehensive book is filled with 26 lessons and multiple exercises to help you master new vocabulary and grammar. You start with spelling and pronunciation and move to intermediate topics like the different tenses, prepositions, and conjunctions. It also comes with a bonus app with flashcards, audio tracks voiced by native speakers, a record-and-play feature, and an answer key. 

This is a complete option that has everything you need to understand Spanish from day 1. The content is engaging yet simple, and the lessons follow a logical order so you’ll always be on the right track. And, with the additional material at hand, you can practice Spanish pronunciation, listening, and speaking all in one place. You can read more about it here.

Best Workbook: Easy Spanish Step-by-Step

Who Should Use This Book: Complete Beginners

Why This Book is Helpful:

  • Learn the most frequently used Spanish verbs and vocabulary and practice using them together in written exercises
  • It uses a building-block approach and constantly expands on your previous knowledge
  • The book teaches you how to build sentences so you don’t have to memorize the “formula” to a perfect Spanish sentence

Easy Spanish Step-by-Step is the best Spanish workbook because it uses a building-block approach. The lessons are organized to teach you the 300 most common Spanish verbs in order of frequency along with other necessary grammar elements. From the Spanish tenses to double object pronouns, the book breaks grammar into logical chunks. This way, you can start applying Spanish grammar as soon as you start your studies. 

What makes this book so helpful is that instead of introducing you to random phrases, it teaches you how to build useful phrases from scratch. All the vocabulary words presented in each lesson are chosen so you can use them together in the exercises and see how they work together. You won’t have to guess or look for other Spanish resources to fill in the blanks. Find out more about the book here.

Most Comprehensive: Complete Spanish Step-by-Step

Who Should Use This Book: Complete Beginner to Advanced

Why This Book is Helpful:

  • It covers topics for beginner to advanced Spanish grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation
  • You’ll learn idioms, alternative uses of words, and colloquial expressions to help you navigate all scenarios
  • There’s an app to help you develop your conversational skills so you’ll be able to communicate in real life. 

Complete Spanish Step-by-Step is the most comprehensive option to learn Spanish because it covers beginner to advanced topics, including tricky vocabulary and grammar. It has 600 pages that cover things like the formal and informal use of Spanish vocabulary, colloquial sentence structure, and how context can change the meaning of a word. There’s also a mobile app you can use to complete listening and reading exercises at the end of each lesson.

The goal of this book is to teach you the language aspects you need to communicate in Spanish regardless of the scenario. It starts with the most basic knowledge and then branches out to more complicated topics that’ll help you sound more natural. Plus, its additional tools and exercises allow you to practice using all the language elements you’ve studied. It’s really convenient! See if this book is right for you here.

Best for Grammar: Spanish Verb Tenses

Who Should Use This Book: Intermediate to Pre-Advanced

Why This Book is Helpful:

  • You’ll master all aspects of Spanish verb conjugation so you can apply them to every verb in every tense
  • It has conjugation tables and exercises to make sure you truly understand Spanish verbs and tenses and how to use them correctly
  • There’s a bonus app to practice listening and speaking in Spanish

Spanish Verb Tenses is the best grammar book to master one of the most difficult aspects of Spanish: verb conjugation. You begin by studying how to conjugate common regular verbs. Once you’re familiar with their patterns, you progressively move to less frequent and irregular verbs like haber and ser. Each lesson includes extensive explanations, exercises, and conjugation tables to teach you how to apply Spanish verbs in every tense. 

This book does an amazing job of teaching Spanish verb use in an easy-to-follow way. It breaks verbs down into groups to help you see the differences in the types (regular or irregular), stems (hab-, est-, sab-), and endings (-er, -ar, -ir). So, when it comes down to using each tense, you can conjugate Spanish verbs without relying on the conjugation tables. It also comes with an app that has flashcards, audio tracks, and a record-and-play feature to help you practice. You can read more about it here.

Best for Reading Practice: Spanish Short Stories for Beginners

Who Should Use This Book: Beginner to Intermediate

Why This Book is Helpful:

  • You’ll read 25 engaging stories that use simplified language to help you practice reading Spanish with ease
  • It includes English summaries and vocabulary lists with translations to help you understand and remember what you read
  • Each story has comprehension questions and an answer key to help you think about each story (in Spanish!)

With Spanish Short Stories for Beginners, you can practice reading in Spanish and increase your vocabulary. This is the best book to practice reading in Spanish because it has 25 engaging tales that use natural and frequently used vocabulary. The stories talk about real-world scenarios and use simplified language, so they’re easy to understand even if you’re a beginner. 

The goal of this book is to help A1 Spanish language learners become accustomed to reading Spanish. To do this, there are vocabulary lists with English translations as well as summaries in English and Spanish. You can check on what parts you understood, or use the questions at the end of each chapter to test your reading skills. See if you like the book here.

Best for Vocabulary: Complete Spanish Workbook for Beginners

Who Should Use This Book: Complete Beginner to Pre-Intermediate

Why This Book is Helpful:

  • You’ll learn common Spanish vocabulary that is common for a huge variety of everyday situations
  • It introduces you to essential language and explains how tricky Spanish words can change their meaning depending on the context
  • It teaches you essential phrases so you can start communicating with native speakers right away

Complete Spanish Workbook for Beginners is the best book for mastering Spanish vocabulary for all kinds of situations. The lessons follow a structured plan, so you get a nice foundation before you dive into more complex topics like verb conjugation and sentence structure.

Even though it was designed for beginners, you can use it to improve your conversational skills regardless of your level of Spanish. There are reading and fill-in-the-blank exercises and quizzes to practice applying what you learned, so you won’t ever rely entirely on memorization. The book also includes a pronunciation guide and audio tracks to expose you to spoken Spanish. My favorite part of this book is that it teaches you popular phrases you might hear in different Spanish-speaking countries! You can read more about the book here.

Best for Advanced Learners: Learn Spanish: 6 Books in 1

Who Should Use This Book: Pre-Advanced to Advanced

Why This Book is Helpful:

  • It tackles all the nuances of Spanish to polish your skills
  • The book includes reading exercises for beginner to advanced learners to enhance comprehension 
  • It teaches you how to build complex phrases so you can participate in all sorts of Spanish conversations

Learn Spanish: 6 Books in 1 is the best book for advanced Spanish learners because its goal is to polish your skills. This book compiles 6 books into 1 to help you overcome all kinds of Spanish-related obstacles. It goes over vocabulary and grammar for beginners to advanced learners (in case you need a refresher) and includes stories you can read to test your skills as you go. Heads up though, this book has a heavy focus on grammar.

Overall, it is very complete, but its explanations might be too in-depth and its exercises too complicated for less experienced Spanish learners. Keep in mind that the beginner section in the book is much smaller than the intermediate and advanced ones. It might be helpful as a reference guide, but overall I recommend it for advanced students looking to fill the gaps in their Spanish studies. You can read more about this book here.

Best Books to Practice Reading Spanish

Spanish learning books aren’t the only types of books you can learn Spanish with! One of the many joys of learning Spanish is that you’ll be able to experience Spanish literature in its original language. If you feel ready to start reading in Spanish, I’ve included some of my favorite recommendations. Here are three books you can enjoy on each level of your Spanish studies.

Beginner: La casa en Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

La casa en Mango Street is perfect for Spanish beginner learners who want to experience Spanish literature. This book consists of vignettes that narrate the life of the author as she grows up in Chicago. Each vignette is written in simplified but natural Spanish. All the sentences are short so you won’t feel overwhelmed by reading one chapter. This is a classic book and a very short read!

Intermediate: La casa de Bernanda Alba by Federico García Lorca

La casa de Bernanda Alba is a short play that talks about a family who is mourning the death of their father. This play is written in straightforward language, but talks about themes like repression and societal expectations. To read it, you’ll need to be able to understand more complex ideas. For intermediate Spanish learners, The House of Bernanda Alba can provide the level of challenge they need to put their Spanish skills to the test.

Advanced: La casa de los espíritus by Isabel Allende

If you’re an advanced learner, I recommend you pick up La casa de los espíritus by Isabel Allende. This story follows three generations of the Trueba family, starting with Esteban and Clara. You’ll need to be able to remember Spanish names and follow complicated plot lines, as they tend to interconnect in this story. While the language used by the author isn’t too complicated, there are many colloquialisms and idiomatic phrases used, as well as references specific to Latin American cultures. This book is lengthy, but trust me, you’ll love it!

Why Learn Spanish With Books?

Books are convenient resources to have at hand and one of the most traditional ways to learn Spanish. What’s great about books is that you can take them anywhere you go and revise them whenever you need to. But, there are a couple more benefits when it comes to learning Spanish. 

Books have hundreds of examples that can help you understand even the trickiest of subjects. Many books include visual infographics to show you how to conjugate and structure sentences. This way, you’ll remember how to form your own phrases. They also tend to come with practice exercises, reading materials, quizzes, and other additional tools that allow Spanish learners to learn without the help of a teacher. And, of course, you don’t need to pay for a subscription to use a book!

Books Aren’t the Only Way to Learn Spanish

Now that you know which are the best Spanish books for each level and skill, you’re ready to master the language! Books are one of the best ways to learn Spanish, so make sure to include them in your study routine. You can combine them with language apps, or subscribe to an online course or podcast to make sure you’re developing all your skills. No matter where you are in your Spanish experience, there’s a book that can teach you something new about Spanish.

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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1 Comment

  • This is a very helpful article. I intend to utilise the suggested books to learn this language. I hope that others would also benefit from this article.