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The Best Book to Learn Spanish (Reader’s Choice)

Posted in: Expat Hacks, Language Learning

What is the best book to learn Spanish? Choosing the best book can help accelerate your learning process.

In this post, you’ll read about 11 books for learning Spanish – and which one is our readers top choice.

best book to learn spanish

But first, a little about our methodology.

How We Choose the Best Book To Learn Spanish

While polls and surveys are okay, they aren’t very accurate. Why? Because people are notorious for lying on surveys. It seems that either a hypothetical and/or social desirability bias makes us give less than honest answers.

The best way to vote is with your wallet.

A purchase of a product is as unbiased of a vote as exists. (Of course, nothing is free of bias, but an anonymous purchase comes close.)

Over the past number of years, we’ve linked to many Spanish learning books that we’ve purchased or that came recommended by our readers. So to determine the best book to learn Spanish – we analyzed our Amazon earning reports. These reports detail the all books that readers actually purchased through our site.

Here are some of the posts that we’ve published in the past few years: 12 Books to Learn Spanish | Books We Used to Learn Spanish | Madrigal’s (Review).

Note: Many of these posts contain affiliate links, as does this post. This means that when you click on the link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission. Don’t worry: It doesn’t cost you a cent extra.

Ready to get started? Lets go!

Best Book to Learn Spanish (Reader’s Choice)

The total number of copies is based on actual sales from the past 12 months (December 2014 until yesterday). While this list includes the 11 most popular books for learning Spanish, our readers purchased a total of 2000+ copies of Spanish learning books over the past year.

Madrigal's Magic Key to Spanish: A Creative and Proven Approach
$12.47
1) Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish

(278 Copies – 222 print +56 Kindle)

This is the best book to learn Spanish, according to our readers. And it is the most helpful book we used.

One of our first Ecuadorian friends loaned us a copy during our first week in Ecuador.

There are great shortcuts and tips that accelerated our process. Highly recommended! It has 512 pages. Read our review.

2) Practice Makes Perfect Series

(241 Copies – 216 + 25 Kindle)

This is a large series, that includes: Verb tenses, sentence builder, grammar, all-in-one, vocabulary, pronouns and prepositions, conversation and basic Spanish.

Many of these books, including the Spanish Verb Tenses, come with audio recordings via their Language Lab app.

We haven’t used these – but they are super popular among our readers. They have 200-350 pages.

3) Breaking Out of Beginner’s Spanish

(106 Copies)

I’ve had this book recommended to me a number of times. One long-time expat called it “The best Spanish book I read, and which I still refer to”.

The book is now on its 20th Anniversary Edition. This long life is uncommon among language books – and speaks to its quality. It has 236 pages.

4) Easy Spanish Step-By-Step

(89 Copies – 83 print + 6 Kindle)

This is a new one for me. Until readers started buying it, I had never heard of it.

It comes very well rated (4.4 out of 5 stars, with 385 reviews) and is rated #1 best seller in Spanish language instruction. It has 320 pages.


5) Lonely Planet Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary

(66 Copies)

This book is a consistent best seller and is currently on the 7th edition. Lonely Planet describes themselves as “The world’s #1 phrasebook publisher”.

This pocket sized phrase book is great for travel and has an impressive 4.7/5 stars. It has 272 pages.

This book is part of our crowd sourced 12 best books to learn Spanish.

6) Easy Spanish Phrase Book NEW EDITION

(56 Copies – 33 + 23 Kindle)

This has over 700 everyday phrases. And they are organized by category to make it easy to find the expression you’re looking for.

This is a great book to stick in your backpack/briefcase while traveling. We really benefited from the phonetic spellings of the Spanish words.

At 96 pages, this is the smallest (and the cheapest) book on the list. But for just a few bucks, it’s hard to go wrong.

7) Spanish English: Bilingual Visual Dictionary

(36 Copies)

This one is a little different than the other books on the list.

It uses color photos to build vocabulary and ensure that the meaning is clear. It is laid out by topic instead of alphabetically, like a traditional dictionary. It has 360 pages.

This book is also part of our crowd-sourced list: 12 best books to learn Spanish.

8) 501 Spanish Verbs with CD-ROM and Audio CD (501 Verb Series)

(34 Copies)

For verb tenses, this was the best reference book we could find.

It is not an easy read, but it will teach you how to conjugate 501 verb tenses. The first 40 pages explains the different verb tenses and how they work.  You’ll use this for many years.

Highly recommended. It has 736 pages.

9) Pimsleur Spanish Basic Course – Level 1 Lessons 1-10 CD

(13 Copies)

Without doubt, this is the best Spanish language learning audio.

From my experience, the majority of expats will vouch for Pimsleurs as the way they actually learned Spanish. You can get this on audio cd, as a computer program or (my favorite) via Audible. Audible (an app on mobile or pc) remembers where you finished off and you can just pick up there again – without any searching. And because its 100% audio, you can learn on the go.

See more about the Pimsleurs concept. You can get a free lesson to give it a try. The program ranges from $14 to $299.

10) Spanish Verb Workbook

(21 Copies)

This is very similar to 501 Spanish Verbs (see #8) but more hands-on as you do crossword puzzles, exercises and topic reviews. The book comes with a free download of more than 90 minutes of instructional audio.

I never used it (I like audio learning better) but Dena used it and had good success. It has 432 pages.

11) Standard Deviants Super Spanish (4 pack)

(15 Copies)

So this one is kind of fun – and no, it isn’t a book. But if you tire quickly of studying Spanish from a book, this is a good option.

The pack comes with 4 DVDs for a total of 330 minutes. They cover basic and advanced concepts – including verb conjugation and masculine/feminine nouns. Most of these discs are available individually as well.

Short on time? Check out 9 time-finding hacks for language learning.

The Best Book to Learn Spanish Overview

Product name Rating Price
501 Spanish Verbs with CD-ROM and Audio CD (501 Verb Series) 501 Spanish Verbs with CD-ROM and Audio CD (501 Verb Series)
$14.46
Breaking Out of Beginner's Spanish Breaking Out of Beginner's Spanish
$15.21
Easy Spanish Phrase Book NEW EDITION: Over 700 Phrases for Everyday Use (Dover Language Guides Spanish) Easy Spanish Phrase Book NEW EDITION: Over 700 Phrases for Everyday Use (Dover Language Guides Spanish)
$3.00
Easy Spanish Step-By-Step Easy Spanish Step-By-Step
$6.92
Lonely Planet Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary (Lonely Planet Phrasebook and Dictionary) Lonely Planet Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary (Lonely Planet Phrasebook and Dictionary)
$6.42
Madrigal's Magic Key to Spanish: A Creative and Proven Approach Madrigal's Magic Key to Spanish: A Creative and Proven Approach
$12.47
Pimsleur Spanish Basic Course - Level 1 Lessons 1-10 CD: Learn to Speak and Understand Latin American Spanish with Pimsleur Language Programs Pimsleur Spanish Basic Course - Level 1 Lessons 1-10 CD: Learn to Speak and Understand Latin American Spanish with Pimsleur Language Programs
$11.76
Practice Makes Perfect Spanish Pronouns and Prepositions, Premium 3rd Edition Practice Makes Perfect Spanish Pronouns and Prepositions, Premium 3rd Edition
$9.94
Practice Makes Perfect Spanish Verb Tenses, Premium 3rd Edition (Practice Makes Perfect Series) Practice Makes Perfect Spanish Verb Tenses, Premium 3rd Edition (Practice Makes Perfect Series)
$10.87
Spanish English Bilingual Visual Dictionary (DK Visual Dictionaries) Spanish English Bilingual Visual Dictionary (DK Visual Dictionaries)
$14.95
Spanish Verb Tenses: Fully Conjugated Verbs (Practice for Success) Spanish Verb Tenses: Fully Conjugated Verbs (Practice for Success)
$10.35
Super Spanish (4 pak) Super Spanish (4 pak)
$51.92

the best book to learn spanish


What’s Your Best Book For Learning Spanish?

Now it’s your turn. What is your favorite book for learning Spanish? What book or course has worked especially well for you?

Please join us in comments below!

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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is editor of GringosAbroad - one of the largest English language sites about Ecuador. Work with GringosAbroad. He is a travel blogger, photographer and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands).

8 comments… add one
  • Sergey Feb 13, 2017, 8:41 am

    I am confused. I opened one review on the Madrigal and they saud the book was for the Latin Spanish.
    Though, can you help me find a textbook for exactly the European Spanish? Exactly for it. Please 🙂

  • Kimmy Jan 23, 2017, 8:43 am

    I also liked this post! I am enjoying this site a lot 🙂 My favorite choice for a Spanish book for beginners is “A Good Spanish Book!” in Amazon. I also enjoy lists of verbs and a collection of flashcards from Pimsleur, but in books that one is amazing.

  • Robert Badgett Dec 6, 2015, 9:05 am

    For those Spanish students who are stuck in the high school present tense, here is a book I like. Advanced Spanish Step by Step, by Barbara Bregstein. Advanced Spanish Step by Step.

  • Lynne Balzer Nov 30, 2015, 8:18 pm

    I like “Destinos”. There is a video series to go with the book. It is available on the Internet free. It is like a soap opera in Spanish, with 52 episodes. I am listening to it for the 2nd time and understand the conversations better now than the 1st time.

  • Marie Nov 27, 2015, 1:42 pm

    By far the best is Madrigal’s Magic key to Spanish. Learned more from this book and the lessons than any other!

    • Bryan Haines Nov 27, 2015, 1:54 pm

      Absolutely agree! This is a classic and has yet to be outdone.

      Thanks for your comment!

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What Other Expats Are Buying (Before Moving to Ecuador)


Easy Spanish Phrase Book NEW EDITION: Over 700 Phrases for Everyday Use (Dover Language Guides Spanish)
$3.00