We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it til we’re blue in the face: language learning is all about immersion. Multisensory, multidisciplinary, multimedia immersion. If you’re a student of Portuguese, your language lessons will take you even further when you couple them with Portuguese books, podcasts, movies, TV shows and mobile phone settings.
To help you narrow down your options, we’ve compiled a short list of Portuguese books that are perfect for language learners of any level.
This comic by Bianca Pinheiro is recommended for beginners by our team of linguists. Comics are excellent for newbies because they mix images and text, making comprehension easier for learners. This one tells the story of a girl and a grumpy bear who gather forces to search for the girl’s parents. The language is simple, and the comic is available for free online. If you need extra help, you can even compare the same story in English and French on the website.
Comédias para Se Ler na Escola
Luis Fernando Veríssimo is one of Brazil’s most popular authors and his work has been translated into many languages. Comédias para Se Ler na Escola contains short, funny stories about many different topics, which is useful for learners who might become frustrated trying to get through a long book in a new language. The format of the book allows readers to take a break in between stories, which makes things considerably less overwhelming if you’re still at the stage where you’re looking up words you don’t recognize. As a bonus, you’ll learn a lot about Brazil through this book. Our language experts highly recommend this book for intermediate learners.
In Dois Irmãos, Milton Hatoum tells the story of a family of immigrants living in Manaus. Winner of the 2001 Jabuti Award for Best Romance, the book follows two twin brothers and the complex relationships of a family in a state of dysfunction. The story is a bit dense, but appropriate for mid-intermediate learners, according to our in-house linguists. It was also adapted into a television miniseries by the same name.
José Maria de Eça de Queiroz’s Os Maias is a classic Portuguese novel that is more or less required reading for high school students. The story follows a young aristocrat living through the decline of monarchy in late 19th-century Portugal, told through the perspective of three generations of his family. It’s not the cheeriest of books, but it is an important one. This is likely best for intermediate to advanced learners.
Ensaio Sobre a Cegueira
José Saramago is one of Portugal’s most celebrated writers (and the recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature), and Ensaio Sobre a Cegueira is one of his most famous novels. The book tells the story of a city afflicted by a blindness epidemic, focusing mainly on a core group of characters who are among the first to get sick. As the city around them unravels in a wave of panic, the main characters stick together in an attempt to survive. Saramago is known for his long sentences that lack punctuation, so this is probably better for more advanced learners.
Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist is pretty well-known and well-loved in its various international translations, which makes O Alquimista an enticing read for Portuguese students. This Brazilian bestseller tells the tale of a shepherd who journeys to the Egyptian pyramids in search of a lost treasure. At its core, it’s a story about discovering your destiny. The book is written in a somewhat old-fashioned style of Portuguese, which might make it challenging for more beginner-level learners.