The 9 Best Books for Learning Spanish in 2023

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If you’re hoping to learn Spanish and don’t have time to enroll in lessons, there are many resources out there that can help you, such as audio programs, tutoring services, mobile apps, and podcasts. But the most traditional way of learning a language is by using a book or following a textbook. There are many books that are used all over the world for teaching and learning Spanish, but some are more conducive for self-study than others. Here we have curated a list of books that learners have found useful to successfully teach themselves Spanish. So whether you want to learn Spanish for fun, for work, or travel, if you enjoy the learning from a book, one of the books on this list might be right for you.

Best Overall: Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish: A Creative and Proven Approach

Spanish Book


If you want to learn Spanish from scratch and start with a pretty affordable book, Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish might be right for you. It is one of the most popular and well-reviewed books for learning Spanish on your own. Although it has been around for a while, Spanish learners continue to find it very useful. Since it was first published a few decades ago, some thematic concepts might seem outdated, but it is still useful for learning the fundamentals of Spanish. This book is meant for beginner learners. Students enjoy the short grammar explanations and the many practice exercises it includes. Also, the book is advertised as entertaining because it eliminates rote memorization drills, and it is sold at a low price.

Best for Beginners: Practice Makes Perfect Spanish Series

Practice Makes Perfect Spanish Series


If you’re looking to start with a beginner book and then move on to other more advanced and specific books in a series, the Practice Makes Perfect Spanish Series might be right for you. This series includes a book for Beginner Spanish, Complete Spanish Grammar, Spanish Verb Tenses, Spanish Conversation, Spanish Pronouns and Prepositions, and Complete Spanish All-in-One. The Beginner book contains many exercises as well as an online flashcard app that you can download, and streaming audio that goes along with the book.

Students enjoy the thorough but simple grammar explanations, which are accompanied by several examples and creative practice exercises. Also, you can find the answers to all the exercises, so you can always check your work. The lessons are short so that you don’t have to invest too much time in each one. 

Best for Grammar: Complete Spanish Step-by-Step

Complete Spanish Step-by-Step


If you’re looking for a Spanish book that is based on grammar, then Complete Spanish Step-by-Step might appeal to you. As its name indicates, this book teaches you the Spanish grammar step-by-step, but without using boring drills. Instead, the author claims that you will learn the way that people naturally learn a language, starting with the most basic grammar concepts, and advancing step by step.

The book also includes many exercises so you can practice and test your knowledge, lots of vocabulary, as well as many reading passages for practicing reading from the start. Many students enjoy the simple layout and organized structure of the book, as well as its affordable price.

Best for Verb Conjugation: Barron’s 501 Spanish Verbs

Barron’s 501 Spanish Verbs


If you think that the most essential part of learning a language is verb conjugation, then you might enjoy Barron’s 501 Spanish Verbs book. As the name indicates, this popular verb book includes the 501 most common and widely used Spanish verbs in 15 tenses and moods. The verbs are presented in alphabetical order, one in each page, with its English translation. The book also includes verbs used in context and in idiomatic phrases and exercises with corresponding answers.

Also, you can find some online bonus material, including many exercises such as listening comprehension, sentence completion, dialogue, word completion, word seek and matching exercises, including answers for all the exercises.

Best for Multimedia: Living Language Spanish

Living Language Spanish


If you enjoy multimedia learning, you should check out the Living Language program. The Living Language program has language-learning materials for several different languages. The Spanish beginner course includes a coursebook, three audio CDs, and online learning material. The book includes 10 lessons with review exercises and dialogues, a glossary, and a grammar summary.

The audio CDs include vocabulary, dialogues, and audio exercises, and the online material includes flashcards, games, and interactive quizzes. The Living Language Method consists of learning essential words and phrases so that you can start communicating from the beginning and slowly build up to more advanced conversations. This method was originally created for the U.S. State Department but is now used by many people who want to learn a foreign language. 

Best for Conversation: Spanish for Dummies

Spanish for Dummies


If you like the “Dummies” approach to learning something new, the Spanish for Dummies book is a simple, straightforward way to start learning some Spanish. It carries the seal of Berlitz, which is an internationally recognized language instruction organization. Spanish for Dummies is focused on Latin American Spanish, and it covers grammar, verb conjugations, and pronunciation. It also includes a mini dictionary and practice exercises that reinforce the book content. They also try to make it fun by having review exercises that are game-like, instead of just normal fill-in-the-blank exercises. Students have enjoyed using this book to get started with their Spanish, or to prepare for a trip to a Spanish-speaking country.

Best for Self-Teaching: Getting Started with Spanish

Getting Started with Spanish


If you’re looking for a book that was specifically designed for self-teaching, then this would be a great option. It is meant to be used to learn Spanish at home, using their lessons and MP3 files to listen to native speakers of Spanish, as well as the practice exercises. It also includes an answer key for all the exercise, pronunciation practice, as well as audio commentary for each lesson and exercise recorded by the authors to clarify each concept.

Students enjoy this book because it is simple and clear, and each lesson introduces concepts very gradually and reviews previous lessons, and there are practice exercises to review each new concept. Also, it can be adapted for learners of any age, from homeschooled children to adults wanting to learn Spanish from scratch. If you’re not starting from scratch, then you might want to skip the first few lessons or look for a more advanced book.

Best for Traveling: Lonely Planet Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary

Lonely Planet Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary


If you are hoping to learn some basic Spanish to be able to get around while traveling in a Spanish-speaking country, then the Lonely Planet Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary might be a good option. With this book, you can learn useful words and phrases for all kinds of travel situations, such as ordering food, shopping, and dealing with emergencies. Also, the book includes basic Spanish information including time, dates, numbers, pronunciation, and grammar rules.

It also includes a 3500-word two-way dictionary, so that you can quickly find any word you might need while you are traveling. Lonely Planet offers versions of this book written specifically for speaking Spanish in Latin America, Mexico, and Spain, so you can purchase the most relevant one for your unique destinations. Also, it is a small enough book that you can carry it around wherever you go. 

Best for Cultural Context: Breaking Out of Beginner’s Spanish

Breaking Out of Beginner’s Spanish


Breaking out of Beginner’s Spanish is a book that can help you improve your Spanish but is also very entertaining. Based on his own experience learning Spanish, the author wrote this book full of tips for English speakers to improve their Spanish. Learners enjoy this book because it contains humor and is fun to read. It includes verb conjugations, pronunciation, grammar, but also some different aspects of the language such as slang, swear words and cultural information from different parts of the Spanish-speaking world. Readers enjoy the clear, practical advice provided by the author. Breaking out of Beginner’s Spanish is best for people who already know some basic Spanish and want to expand their knowledge. Also, it does not contain practice exercises, so if you need written practice, you might need to supplement it with some type of Spanish workbook.

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Meiners, Jocelly. "The 9 Best Books for Learning Spanish in 2023." ThoughtCo, Apr. 6, 2023, Meiners, Jocelly. (2023, April 6). The 9 Best Books for Learning Spanish in 2023. Retrieved from Meiners, Jocelly. "The 9 Best Books for Learning Spanish in 2023." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 1, 2023).