Best books to learn French Blog Cover

Best books for learning French in 2024 (My favourites)

What are the best books to learn and practice French? In this blog, I'll share my favourite French novels and free resources for beginners and intermediates. If you're learning French and enjoy reading, you'll love my book recommendations!

1) The Lady of The Camellias by Alexandre Dumas fils

La dame aux camélias Book cover

I'll start with a novel that was highly successful in the 19th century. 

The novel is inspired by a real-life event and explores themes of love, sexuality, society, and death.

During the pandemic, I read this novel and finished it in only 3 days. I found the characters well-described, and the story was captivating. You really feel immersed in the spirit of the 19th century.

The novel has also been adapted into cinema and theater. If you can, I recommend watching these adaptations before or after reading the novel.

2) Le Voyage de Monsieur Perrichon by Eugène Labiche

Le Voyage de Monsieur Perrichon Book Cover

Let me introduce you to one of my favorite plays from the 19th century.

I read it for the first time during my PhD, where I specialized in 19th-century theater.

I often recommend plays to my students because they contain dialogues and expressions frequently used in French. You can also practice pronunciation and intonation.

I would say that this book is much less difficult than "The Lady of The Camellias." There are fewer difficult words, and in the version I have, meanings of difficult words are provided at the end.

3) Roberto Zucco by Bernard-Marie Koltès

Roberto Zucco Book Cover

If I had to choose a play to read for the rest of my life, I would surely choose Roberto Zucco by Bernard-Marie Koltès.

In my opinion, it's a masterpiece of contemporary French theater. I don't know how many times I've read it, I would say at least 50. (Because I studied it for my master's thesis and absolutely loved Koltes's writing style.)

The play questions patriarchy and also addresses themes of crime and sexuality.

4) Mon Père by Orhan Pamuk

Mon Père Book Cover

Now, I'd like to introduce you to another one of my favourites: "Mon Pere" by Turkish author Orhan Pamuk, a Nobel laureate. 

This book is a translation into French and a collection of his short texts.

I've read several of his novels in Turkish when I was younger, but his translations into French have also pleased me greatly.

I decided to present this one because it's much easier to understand than his novels.

I found this book particularly interesting because it tells how he started writing and finding his voice as a writer, as well as his relationship with his father.

5) Les Années by Annie Ernaux

Les Années Book Cover

Now, let's talk about another great author who has also been honored with the Nobel Prize: Annie Ernaux.

The book I've chosen is called "Les Années," which is an autobiographical novel.

I've just started reading this novel by Annie Ernaux. I had read her memoir "Mémoire de fille" where she also wrote about her adolescent memories.

I find this one interesting because Annie Ernaux talks about her past memories starting from her photos as a kind of memory exercise. She tries to remember the past that she lived, which seems distant to her.

It's excellent for improving your vocabulary, and you shouldn't feel the need for stopping at every page if you don't understand some words.

If you want to read other francophone women writers, I recommend reading:

  • Nancy Huston
  • Nina Bouraoui
  • Assia Djebar
  • Kim Thuy

I've also created a video where I talk about these recommendations. The video is in French with both English and French subtitles. It's a great way to practice your listening and reading skills, so make sure to check it out!


What's the best book to learn French? 

In my opinion, the best book to read or learn French is the one appropriate to your level and responds to your interest. The best way to find this out is to flip through the book a bit to see if the level is right for you. You can also take the time to read the cover and look at the genre.

French Books for Beginners:

If you're a beginner and would like to read your first French book, I would recommend the following ones. Almost every French learner starts reading French with these books. 

"Le Petit Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

This beloved classic is a perfect choice for beginners. Follow the adventures of the Little Prince as he travels from planet to planet, encountering quirky characters and learning valuable life lessons along the way. 

"Bonjour Tristesse" by Françoise Sagan

Another excellent option for beginners, "Bonjour Tristesse" tells the story of a young girl named Cécile who spends a summer on the French Riviera with her father and his glamorous mistress. 


Interested in learning and practicing French with me? 

I offer one-on-one lessons over Zoom where we can practice speaking French and also talk about literature. Feel free to send me a message at 

Tell me in the comments which book you're most excited to read and which literary genre interests you the most.

And if you have any book recommendations, share them in the comments.



PhD / French Teacher


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