Best Portuguese Books for Learners

Reading in Portuguese is a fun way to improve vocabulary and boost your fluency. Neuroscience shows that we learn best when engaged emotionally, so pick a book that intrigues you. To get started, here’s a list of some of the best Portuguese books for learners.

Reading Portuguese-language books digitally, as on a Kindle, offers a key advantage: the ability to instantly look up unknown words using an integrated dictionary. Unfortunately, in the US and UK it’s not always easy to find legal copies of Portuguese e-books; I’ve indicated availability on Amazon for each title below.

I hope you love my book recommendations! Just so you know, I may get a small commission from any purchases made using Amazon links on this page at no extra cost to you.

Brazilian Portuguese Books

Onze minutos

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

Level: Intermediate

Available as e-book: Yes

While educated Latin Americans generally don’t regard popular author Paulo Coelho’s work as great literature, 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; i.e., estudara, dissera, trouxera (I/she/he had studied, said, brought), but which is easily learned.

Onze minutos is a modern-day fable about a young girl from a Brazilian village who emigrates to Switzerland and ends up working as a prostitute. Some adult material.

If you’re already familiar with his global bestseller O Alquimista in your native language, a second read in Portuguese will be much easier. Another recommended simple story with a meaningful message by Coelho is Veronika decide morrer.

If you prefer to read digitally, one huge advantage to Coelho’s novels is that the Kindle versions are readily and inexpensively available on Amazon US and UK (click to see the complete list).

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 (not to be confused with his father, fellow writer Érico Veríssimo).

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

Another recommended collection of short stories by the same author is Diálogos Impossíveis.

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 excellent YouTube channel Easy Brazilian Portuguese should check out this enjoyable quick read by producer Kristina, a Croatian-born, German-raised polyglot.

Kristina describes her experiences as a long-term São Paulo resident married to a local in this 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 his books in Brazil.

If you enjoy comedy channel Porta dos Fundos, don’t miss this hilarious collection of short essays by Gregorio Duvivier, one of the show’s creators. (Note that despite its English title, Put Some Farofa is completely in Portuguese.)

The volume offers an entertaining mix of his weekly humor columns for the Folha de S.Paulo, Brazil’s largest newspaper, and Porta dos Fundos episode scripts.

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 reading Jorge Amado, Brazil’s most celebrated modernist author.

Dubbed the Brazilian Lord of the FliesCapitães da areia is a simple yet powerful account of a gang of street kids who live by their wits and daring in the slums of Salvador.

Sadly, more than 80 years after the book’s publication, their tragic plight 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 Brazilian author.

In this haunting tale, an urbane male writer narrates the story of Macabéa, an impoverished, sickly nineteen-year-old girl from the Northeast struggling to survive in the slums of Rio de Janeiro.

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

European Portuguese Books

I’ll be adding more European Portuguese books to this section before my language study trip to Portugal later in 2019.

Portugal de perto

By Nuno Ferreira (2016)

Levels: Intermediate to Advanced

Available as e-book: Yes

This simply and clearly written 64-page e-book, available inexpensively on Amazon, chronicles the fascinating journey of Nuno Ferreira, a journalist who traversed Portugal on foot for three years starting in 2008, recording his observations about each region he explored.

Have a favorite Portuguese-language book to recommend? Please share your suggestions in the comments.


Banner image: Real Gabinete Português de Leitura, Rio de Janeiro, which houses the largest collection of Portuguese literature outside Portugal

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