Best Portuguese Books for Learners

Reading in Portuguese is a fun way to improve vocabulary and boost your fluency. Studies show we learn best from content we enjoy, so pick a book that intrigues you. To get started, here are some of the best Portuguese books for learners.

Reading Portuguese-language books digitally has a massive advantage: the instant ability to look up unknown words using an integrated dictionary.

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to find legal copies of Portuguese e-books. I’ve indicated Amazon e-book availability for each title below.

I hope you love my Portuguese book recommendations! Just so you know, I may earn a small fee from purchases made using this page’s Amazon links at no extra cost to you.

Brazilian Portuguese Books

Graded Brazilian Portuguese Readers for Learners

Amazon offers a growing number of Brazilian Portuguese readers for learners from various publishers.

These easy reads feature simplified language adapted to different levels. They generally include vocabulary lists, English translations, and comprehension questions.

Most are available extremely inexpensively for Kindle and can even be borrowed for free from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library or Kindle Unlimited.

I’m working my way through reviewing them using my free monthly checkout with the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

Portuguese Short Stories for Beginners and Intermediate Learners

By Language Guru (2019)

Levels: Advanced beginner to intermediate

Available as e-book: Available inexpensively. Can be borrowed for free from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library or Kindle Unlimited.

These eight simple stories for learners all feature the same main character, Gabriel. Each story focuses on a different aspect of his life, like food, exercise, work, or dating.

The stories are a quick read and reasonably entertaining.

Each chapter is followed by a vocabulary list, five multiple-choice questions to test your understanding, and finally, an English translation. An answer key for the quiz questions is in the back.

I do recommend reading the vocabulary list before starting each story.

 

Portuguese Short Stories for Beginners

By Lingo Mastery (2019)

Level: Graded A2+ (advanced beginner and up). However, the content is challenging enough that intermediate might be more appropriate. As an advanced learner, I still found vocabulary that was new to me.

Available as e-book: Available inexpensively. Can be borrowed for free from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library or Kindle Unlimited.

This collection of 20 simple stories provides approachable reading material for learners.

Each story is followed by:

  • summaries in Portuguese and English
  • a vocabulary list
  • a set of multiple-choice questions to test your understanding.

The stories recount events from everyday life. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of Brazilian Portuguese like vocabulary, pronouns, numbers, adjectives, or adverbs.

This Brazilian Portuguese reader features realistic dialogue and lots of colloquial expressions.

I did note some typos in the Portuguese text as well as the English translations. Also, the English text sounds like it wasn’t written by a native speaker. However, these relatively minor shortcomings aside, I found the book a quality learning resource for a very low price or free.

To improve audio comprehension, you can also listen to the audiobook version while reading. It’s available free with an Audible trial from Amazon.

 

Intermediate Portuguese Short Stories

By Lingo Mastery (2019)

Level: B1+ (lower intermediate and up). As an advanced learner, I still found it useful for reading practice.

Available as e-book: Available inexpensively. Can be borrowed for free from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library or Kindle Unlimited.

A collection of 10 stories with summaries, vocab lists, and quizzes.

Identical in format to the beginner collection above, but with more challenging and compelling material.

 

Brazilian Portuguese Literature

Take your reading skills to the next level with these classic and contemporary works of Brazilian literature.

 

Onze minutos

Onze minutos by Paulo Coelho - Books in Brazilian PortugueseBy Paulo Coelho (2003)

Level: Intermediate

Available as e-book: Yes

Interestingly, educated Latin Americans generally don’t hold popular author Paulo Coelho in high esteem. Nevertheless, no list of learner-friendly Portuguese reading would be complete without one of his titles.

Coelho’s writing is simple and accessible. The only minor challenge is his literary use of the archaic pluperfect indicative tense. Examples include: estudara, dissera, trouxera (I/she/he had studied, said, brought). However, it’s easy to get used to.

Onze minutos is a modern-day fable about a young girl from a Brazilian village who emigrates to Switzerland. After running out of money, she begins working as a prostitute. Some adult material.

More recommended Portuguese novels by Coelho:

  • O Alquimista – If you’ve already read this global bestseller, a second read in Portuguese will be much easier
  • Veronika decide morrer – A popular simple story with a meaningful message

One huge advantage to Coelho’s books is that inexpensive Kindle versions are readily available. Click to see the complete lists on Amazon US and UK.

 

O Melhor das Comédias da Vida Privada

O Melhor das Comédias da Vida Privada - Books in Brazilian PortugueseBy Luís Fernando Veríssimo (2011)

Levels: Intermediate to advanced

Available as e-book: Yes, if you have an Amazon Brazil account and a CPF number

Witty collection of short stories by popular Brazilian humorist Luís Fernando Veríssimo.

These comic narratives depicting the ironies of everyday life are in modern, clear Portuguese. First published in 1994, this classic of Brazilian humor has been completely updated and expanded.

 

Sete dias em busca da brasilidade: Sob o olhar de uma estrangeira

Sete dias em busca da brasilidade: Sob o olhar de uma estrangeira - Books in Brazilian PortugueseBy Kristina Bodrozic-Brnic (2016)

Levels: Intermediate to advanced

Available as e-book: Yes

Fans of the popular YouTube channel Easy Brazilian Portuguese will enjoy this short memoir by producer Kristina.

Kristina, a Croatian-born, German-raised polyglot, describes her experiences as a long-term São Paulo resident married to a local. A thoughtful, well-written take on Brazilian culture.

 

Put Some Farofa

By Gregorio Duvivier (2014)

Levels: High intermediate to advanced

Available as e-book: Yes, if you have an Amazon Brazil account and a CPF number. Since Brazilian paperbacks tend to be expensive overseas, I recommend looking for Gregorio Duvivier’s books in Brazil.

If you enjoy comedy channel Porta dos Fundos, try these hilarious short essays by one of the show’s creators. (Note that despite its English title, Put Some Farofa is completely in Portuguese.)

The collection mixes Duvivier’s humor columns for the Folha de São Paulo, Brazil’s largest newspaper, and Porta dos Fundos episode scripts.

Crônicas para ler em qualquer lugar

By Gregorio Duvivier, Maria Ribeiro, Xico Sá (2019)

Levels: High intermediate to advanced

Available as e-book: Miraculously, available inexpensively on Kindle in both the US and UK

Three popular authors reflect on the current state of Brazil in several dozen short stories.

The book’s inspiration sprang from the project “Você é o que lê,” with which Gregorio Duvivier, Maria Ribeiro, and Xico Sá tour Brazil hosting public chats about contemporary reading habits and literature.

The short pieces range in tone from humorous to contemplative. They cover diverse themes from politics to literature, music, parenting, love, and death.

I’m a huge fan of Gregorio Duvivier’s. His brief commentaries are laugh-out-loud funny and easy to read. It’s worth buying the book just for his essays.

Maria Ribeiro and Xico Sá have a more complex literary style. I found their contributions well-written if challenging.

 

Diálogos Impossíveis

By Luís Fernando Veríssimo (2012)

Levels: Intermediate to advanced

Available as e-book: Yes, if you have an Amazon Brazil account and a CPF number

Another humorous collection by Brazilian writer Luís Fernando Veríssimo.

Stories feature witty dialogues between such unlikely pairs as a geriatric Dracula and Batman in the same nursing home, Robespierre and his executioner, or artists Goya and Picasso.

While some of these absurdist tales are more successful than others, they are easily digestible for learners at only 1-3 pages.

 

Capitães da areia

By Jorge Amado (1937)

Levels: Intermediate to advanced

Available as e-book: Yes, if you have an Amazon Brazil account and a CPF number

If you’re interested in Salvador and Bahían culture, try Jorge Amado, Brazil’s most celebrated modernist author.

Capitães da areia is a powerful account of a gang of street kids living by their wits in Salvador’s slums. This classic text, dubbed the Brazilian Lord of the Flies, is required reading for many Brazilian high schoolers.

The book’s relevance continues more than 80 years after publication. Tragically, the plight of homeless children is still a reality in much of Brazil.

 

A hora da estrela

By Clarice Lispector (1977)

Levels: High intermediate to advanced

Available as e-book: Yes, if you have an Amazon Brazil account and a CPF number

This brief novel, Clarice Lispector’s last, is a good introduction to the enigmatic work of this fascinating Ukrainian-Brazilian author.

In this haunting tale, a privileged, arrogant male narrator tells the tragic story of Macabéa, a poor young nordestina struggling to survive in Rio’s slums.

To help decipher Lispector’s sophisticated prose, you may want to follow along in the newly translated English edition.

If you like her work, also try the short story collection Felicidade Clandestina. The powerful title story is one of Lispector’s best-known works.

If you’re feeling saudade for Rio, try this addictive read in English. Invisibles spins the tale of one man’s journey from Brighton, UK to Brazil to solve the mystery of his missing father.

This engrossing novel vividly evokes the feel of Brazil with use of slang and cultural references to music and football. The cover image represents Cantagalo, the favela between Ipanema and Copacabana. Unputdownable!

European Portuguese Books

Graded European Portuguese Readers for Learners

Amazon offers a growing number of European Portuguese readers for learners from various publishers.

These easy reads feature simplified language adapted to different levels. They generally include vocabulary lists, English translations, and comprehension questions.

Most are available inexpensively for Kindle and can even be borrowed for free from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library or Kindle Unlimited.

I’m working my way through reviewing them using my free monthly checkout from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

Portuguese Short Stories: 9 Simple and Captivating Stories for Effective Portuguese Learning for Beginners

By Language Learning University (2018)

Levels: Beginner to low intermediate

Available as e-book: Available inexpensively. Can be borrowed for free from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library or Kindle Unlimited.

The nine simple stories for learners in this European Portuguese reader provide approachable reading material for beginners.

Diverse stories are set in and around Portugal. Each paragraph is immediately followed by an English translation.

Chapters end with:

  • Summaries in Portuguese and English
  • A vocabulary list
  • Open-ended and multiple-choice comprehension questions
  • Answer keys in Portuguese and English

I recommend reading the vocabulary list before starting each story.

I did note the occasional typo such as a repeated word in the Portuguese text. Unfortunately, that seems to be common in these inexpensive readers.

The English translations are also awkward at times, but still perfectly comprehensible.

However, these relatively minor shortcomings aside, I found the book an effective learning resource for a very low price or free.

To improve audio comprehension, you can also listen to the audiobook version while reading. It’s available free with an Audible trial from Amazon.

 

European Portuguese Literature

I’m currently researching more European Portuguese books to recommend. Many works by famed Portuguese writers like Fernando Pessoa, José Saramago, or José Maria de Eça de Queiroz are not easily accessible for learners.

Portugal de perto

By Nuno Ferreira (2016)

Levels: Intermediate to advanced

Available as e-book: Yes

This simply written 64-page e-book, available inexpensively on Amazon, describes the fascinating journey of Nuno Ferreira. For three years starting in 2008, this journalist traversed Portugal on foot, documenting his experiences.

From the golden plains of the Alentejo to the mysterious northern highlands, Ferreira records his interactions with the locals. He encounters fear and mistrust but also great hospitality.

The great natural beauty of the landscapes Ferreira explores contrasts with the abandoned villages of Portugal’s neglected interior.

A good choice for learning Portuguese while discovering the reality of rural Portugal, far from the tourist crowds.

 

Mensagem

By Fernando Pessoa (1934)

Levels: High intermediate to advanced

Available as e-book: Yes

This small book of 44 poems is a classic of Portuguese literature. The book is a paean to the Portuguese nation and spirit divided in three parts.

Mensagem was the only book written in Portuguese by Pessoa during his lifetime (he published four more in English). The book’s most famous poem is the moving Mar Português.

Mensagem is a short text worth tackling for its intense beauty even if you don’t understand every word.

Beautiful lines from Pessoa's poem Mar Português

Beautiful lines from Pessoa’s poem Mar Português. Credit: Pensador

Feijoada de Bacalhau: Relatos e reflexões de um brasileiro em Portugal

By Victor Allenspach (2018)

Levels: Intermediate to advanced

Available as e-book: Yes

In my quest for lesser-known authors, I stumbled on this entertaining gem by Brazilian sci-fi writer Victor Allenspach. You can even borrow it for free from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

I’ve listed this humorous travel memoir under European Portuguese books as it recounts the author’s five-month stint in the northern city of Braga. In his time off, Allenspach explored the rest of the country on foot and by public transport.

The author draws fascinating and vivid comparisons between Portugal and Brazil, including the dramatic language differences. A highly engaging read, especially for those familiar with both countries.

Have feedback on these books in Portuguese or a favorite Portuguese-language book to recommend? I love hearing from my readers! Please share your thoughts in the comments.


Top image: Real Gabinete Português de Leitura, Rio de Janeiro. This library houses the largest collection of Portuguese literature outside Portugal.

2 Comments on “Best Portuguese Books for Learners”

  1. Ingrid, thank you for this very useful list of books to help with learning Portuguese. I lived in Portugal for years, but only travel there on and off now so I need something to keep me in touch with the language and especially keep my vocab up-to-date when travelling.

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