When we think of Brazil, we probably think of their colorful carnivals, lambada dance, great coffee, or football. But their literature is as rich as its football history. Throughout the years there have been tons of books, and many important authors have been born. All of which will help you improve your culture, Brazilian history knowledge, and language skills.

That’s why we created this list of the best Brazilian books to read while improving your Portuguese.

The Benefits of Reading in Portuguese

There are many benefits of reading, like improving your cultural knowledge, increasing your concentration, reducing stress, and making you more empathetic. But reading can also have many benefits for your language learning journey:

  • Improves Vocabulary
    Even if you have an advanced level of Portuguese, books will present you with words that you didn’t know. Even in our native language, we’re constantly learning new vocabulary. It will also help you learn new useful everyday phrases and idioms.
  • Improves Spelling
    Even if you’re just reading for fun, and don’t think you’re paying much attention to the spelling, you are learning. When reading, your brain will absorb how words are written. Especially when you read a lot because you will be seeing the same words over and over again.
  • Better Syntax
    Word order changes from language to language. For example, some languages put the adjective before the noun, and some put it after it. So, apart from the spelling of the words, reading how sentences are written will help you improve the word order.

TruFluency Portuguese Reading Tips

There are many things you can do to make your Portuguese reading experience easier and more successful.

  • Learn words through context. If you find a word that you don’t know, don’t look it up. Try to learn its meaning by the context it is in. Only pick up the dictionary when you truly can’t understand the word, and it’s making you not understand the story.
  • If there’s a film or series adaptation of the story, watch it after reading the book. It will help you improve your pronunciation when listening to a story you already know. Both books and movies complement each other in improving your language skills. Even better: listen to the audiobook. You can follow the book while listening to the audio. This way you’ll improve in all areas of the language at the same time. It’ll be like putting on subtitles on a movie.
  • Make notes. For some, writing on books is a sacrilege. But it’s actually a good way to remember what you liked and thought, and to relearn. You can write things that you enjoyed about a certain chapter. Or write a definition next to a word you didn’t know, so next time you read it, you’ll remember it.

Our Favorite Brazilian Books to Improve Your Portuguese

1. Feliz Ano Novo by Rubem Fonseca

This is a tale compilation. It’s a great introduction to one of the most popular Brazilian contemporary authors, Rubem Fonseca.

These short stories show Fonseca’s ability to narrate crime stories. Despite the topics, they usually are easy to read. Because they’re very short and full of dialogue, like “Entrevista”.

Some other tales have a little bit more descriptions, though are still short. Like “Corações Solitários”. So you’ll learn how to make short descriptions of someone, or a situation, in Portuguese.

In some tales, the actions that are narrated tend to be about casual things, until the crime happens. Like in “Passeio Noturno”, where everything seems normal, a boring man after a long work day until terrible events happen. At least with the first description of the actions, you’ll learn how to express everyday situations in Portuguese.

2. Dom Casmurro by Joaquim Machado de Assis

This is about a man, Dom Casmurro, that does everything he can to marry the girl he’s always loved, Capitú. But one day, jealousy starts obsessing him; he thinks he’s been betrayed by his wife. This idea will haunt him throughout the book. It can be a tricky lecture since there’s nothing hundred percent definite. The reader might or might not believe the main character.

With this book, you will not only be learning Portuguese but also about one of Brazil’s most important literary figures. Machado de Assis is a famous author, who left a great literary work. The book has very small chapters, so you can read them fluently. And it has a lot of dialogues, which will help you with conversation skills and expressions.

3. Viagem by Cecília Meireles

Cecília Meireles was a poet and journalist. She became a very important Brazilian poet and continues to be nowadays.

Viagem is one of her many poetry books. You’ll realize the musicality in her writing. Some poems are easier to understand than others, but she used to write in a simple, yet deep way. So you won’t get bored and will understand what she says.

One of her most popular and easiest to understand poems is “Retrato”. Where she narrates how time and life look on her face.

Poetry is a great way to learn rhythm and tone, which are two things that will improve your speaking skills. We know that it might be intimidating to read poetry, especially in another language.

The good news is that you don’t have to read them all at once. You can read one poem each day, or simply read them as you wish. This way you’ll have time to take them in.

4. Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos by Jorge Amado

It follows the story of Doña Flor, a woman with great cooking abilities, and the owner of a cooking school. After her husband dies, she remarries. But later the ghost of her late husband will come back to haunt her with his erotism. This way she’ll find herself in the middle of a complicated love situation.

The author combines erotism and love with beautiful cooking and food scenes. You’ll even find some recipes along with the book. They’re cleverly written, as it seems like Doña Flor is giving you directly a cooking class. There are quotations and memories of what the recipe or the ingredients remind Doña Flor of.

This is perfect to read funny and tragic moments equally. There are also a lot of dialogues, which will help you improve your conversation skills. You’ll learn new ways and phrases in Portuguese that will make you sound more fluent.

Jorge Amado was a versatile author. He wrote books that showed social issues. So if you like this book, you can read another one to help you improve your Portuguese around other topics.

5. Perto do Coração Selvagem by Clarice Lispector

Though Clarice Lispector was born in Ukraine, she lived in Brazil since she was a little kid. Her writing style was very philosophical. She focused on describing feelings and reflecting on thoughts more than making the story move on. That’s why her writing can be quite difficult, but it’s worth it. Though it’s probably better for advanced Portuguese learners.

This book is no exception to that. It’s the story of Juana, a very reflective woman. We’ll read about her life, both past and present moments. But more than discovering who she is through actions, we’ll do it through her feelings and thoughts.

It’s the perfect book (and author) to learn how to describe things and sensations in Portuguese.

Keep Learning the Brazilian Language

These are the best Brazilian books to help you learn Portuguese, and more knowledgeable about Brazilian culture. But if you want to become fluent in speaking, you might still need other ways of improving. You could read our blog about basic Portuguese phrases you need to know.

Or you can take TruFluency’s language classes. Our Bellieu Method is based on making you speak in order to become fluent. We have great Portuguese native tutors that will help you out. And, who knows? Maybe they’ll recommend more interesting books for you to keep improving while reading.

Try one of our teachers and save 20% off your first month of classes with code TF20!