In the right hands, a good language book can help you tie everything together – vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. Here are the best Italian learning books for every level.
Depending on your level, learning style, and interests, there are many options out there. Jump to our top 10 book picks, or read on to learn more about how best to choose and use a language book.
Before we begin, remember that the fastest way to learn Italian is to download and use our Fluent Forever app and join our Live Coaching program to get paired up with a language coach. Lastly, don’t forget to check out our Best Way to Learn Italian guide for more tips, strategies, and tools to master this beautiful language.
Looking for the best Italian learning books boils down to two questions you need to ask yourself:
Understand your preferred style of learning and choose a book that matches it. For example, some people like thorough and detailed grammar explanations; others prefer learning through vocabulary exercises.
At the same time, some people enjoy learning with audiobooks, while other learners tend to opt for visually engaging workbooks. Choose a book that will complement your style and keep you engaged.
Analyze why you’re learning Italian and choose a book that will move you closer to your goal. For example, a book that relies on everyday phrases is perfect for someone who’s learning Italian to spend a summer in Milan.
Another option is to think about the skills you need to improve and pick a book to help you strengthen that area. For instance, some books focus on grammar, while others deal specifically with reading comprehension.
It’s one thing to buy a book, but it’s another to use it effectively. Here are some things you can do to get the most out of your new Italian workbook.
Get in the habit of writing down vocabulary you don’t know or that you find interesting, useful, or important. If something stands out, jot it down in a notebook!
Then, sort the words into thematic groups instead of categories. The latter refers to things like colors, animals, or plants, while the former looks more like “words used in hospitals,” “words used in banks,” and “words used in a museum.” Organizing words by themes makes it easier to create associations between them, which makes them quicker to memorize.
Lastly, review those words! Instead of relying on translations and rote memorization, we recommend you use flashcards with images, pictures, or drawings.
The Fluent Forever app automates and simplifies the process of flashcards creation. Additionally, an SRS algorithm creates personalized review sessions based on your past progress. Get the app here.
Try not to obsess about the nitty gritty of grammar, but do take notes on important bits. Writing grammar explanations and rules in your own words makes them easier to understand and remember later.
Most textbooks come with workbooks or exercise sheets for a reason. Do them! Exercises reinforce what you learn and make vocabulary and grammar rules easier to remember.
However, it’s essential to double-check your work against the answer sheet or with a trusted native speaker.
Some of the best Italian learning books recommend that you read out loud; this helps you remember things and makes studying easier and more fun.
So, make sure you’re pronouncing the words correctly. Some language books come with audio aids like MP3 files, but not all.
When you download the Fluent Forever app, it will train your ears and mouth to master Italian pronunciation in a matter of weeks through hundreds of minimal pair tests. You can read more about these tests and our teaching method here.
Additionally, you can practice what you say with a native speaker by joining our Live Coaching program.
Testing your Italian skills is a great way of keeping yourself accountable and motivated to continue learning with your book. There are many free online Italian language tests available, like the ESL Italian test.
You can also challenge yourself to remember a certain number of words or phrases periodically. The point is to see the results of your efforts and get stoked about picking up the book again.
The list below presents the best Italian learning books depending on your current level. There’s something for everyone!
Where to buy: Amazon
Learning points: Essential Italian vocabulary
Learning words from frequency lists is a fantastic way to start building your Italian vocabulary.
Frequency lists contain vocab you will regularly run into in conversations or texts, so learning these words will help you learn the language faster.
Italian Key Words compiles 2,000 of these words in a neat and organized way. The book also comes with digital versions of the words so you can keep learning on your smartphone or computer.
Where to buy: Amazon
Learning points: Frequently used vocabulary and phrases
As we mentioned earlier, vocabulary organized in themes is easier to learn than word categories. Mastering Italian Vocabulary contains over 5,000 words and phrases ordered in the former system.
Besides having more words than most other vocabulary-focused books, it also contains highly relevant phrases, including some slang. Just note that the price of this book is a bit higher than other options.
A cheaper resource – although not a book – that organizes vocabulary in the same way is this Most Awesome Vocabulary List in Italian.
If you’re completely new to the language, Italian: A Self-Teaching Guide covers basic vocabulary and grammar. Additionally, it goes into survival elements like asking common questions and responding accordingly.
The explanations in this book are in English. If you’re 100% new to Italian, this should help you grasp the basics more easily.
Learning points: Grammar and frequently used verbs
Easy Italian Step-by-Step focuses on linguistic elements by covering frequently used verbs and learning through patterns.
The book shows you essential grammar structures using everyday phrases from the get-go. Gradually, it moves to more advanced yet still relevant grammar structures.
Learning points: Vocabulary, grammar, sentence structure, Italian culture
Did you know that one of the best ways to make new vocabulary and grammar stick is with stories?
Despite its name, Italian Short Stories for Beginners might be best suited for starting intermediate learners. As soon as you have a nice heap of vocabulary under your belt, you can get your hands on this book to learn with short stories.
Each story highlights important vocabulary and ends with an English and Italian summary to help you get a general understanding.
Learning points: Grammar, pronouns and prepositions, essential vocabulary and phrases
If you feel like you’ve hit a wall with your Italian grammar, Practice Makes Perfect: Italian Pronouns and Prepositions might help.
Beyond focusing entirely on pronouns and prepositions, the book provides simple explanations of complex Italian grammar rules with real-life examples. You’ll also find many exercises with an answers sheet to reinforce what you learn.
At the end, a couple of review chapters bring together everything you’ve learned.
Learning points: Reading and speaking skills in Italian, new vocabulary
Practice Makes Perfect: Italian Reading and Comprehension features real-life material – newspaper articles, websites, stories, etc. – to give you an idea of how the language is spoken and used.
The exercises included focus on strengthening your speaking and reading skills, as well as adding new words to your vocabulary repertoire.
Where to buy: Amazon
Learning points: Advanced vocabulary and grammar, reading comprehension, Italian culture
Ecco Italian in Depth goes into the nitty gritty of Italian grammar and vocabulary. If you’ve reached a point where you feel like you’ve plateaued, this book might help you climb out of that rut.
Besides thoroughly reviewing some essential vocabulary and grammar, it features plenty of idioms and phrases typically used in Italy. Additionally, many of its examples delve into aspects of Italian culture.
Where to buy: Amazon
Learning points: Reading, speaking, and writing skills, Italian culture
Using articles on Italian culture – aspects of society, habits, and traditions – Bar Italia’s objective is to build and strengthen your reading, speaking, and writing skills.
The example texts are taken from the Italian press and organized in units of increasing difficulty.
Where to buy: Amazon
Learning points: In-depth Italian grammar and vocabulary
Last on this list is Grammatica avanzata della lingua Italiana. If you have a good knowledge of Italian, this book will help you polish the overall linguistic skills of this language with thorough exercises and extra information boxes.
Additionally, this book contains tons of sample text on Italian culture and everyday subjects.
Online stores like Amazon or Book Depository are the best places to get Italian language books. But depending on where you’re based, some books might not be available on these sites.
Local bookstores often have language learning sections that divide books per language, so you might want to check them out. You can also order your Italian books in digital or paperback format from independent bookstores.
When it comes to audiobooks, don’t count YouTube out! If you’re lucky, you might find an audio version of the Italian book you’re looking for.
Lastly, if you’re working with a tutor, ask for advice on where to get books and what they recommend.
Beyond books, there are several other resources and methods to complement your language studies. Remember to check out our Best Way to Learn Italian guide for a comprehensive list of tools, resources, and tips.
Language apps and 1-on-1 tutoring are two of the best and most popular methods to learn a new language. On both fronts, Fluent Forever provides a proven, science-backed methodology to help you master Italian, fast.
The app teaches you Italian pronunciation, essential vocabulary, and grammar through pronunciation tests and personalized flashcards, while Live Coaching gets you practicing with a native Italian speaker certified in language teaching.