Over the years, I have purchased countless books to try and learn French. I used to go to the bookstore Barnes & Noble to relax and each time I was there, I would feel guilty for not bringing a French book to study. So I would go ahead and purchase another book. I had quite a library of learning French books at home before having to sell everything when I moved to Montreal (before moving to France).
Overall Learn to Speak French Book
French Made Simple is probably my all-time favorite. It breaks down grammar in simple terms for me to understand. It also provides examples and sentences with vocabulary that are actually useful to me. Instead of learning how to say that your neighbor has a beautiful elephant, you can learn words that you would actually use in France. Some of the conversations are entertaining, so you are not bored and distracted during the lessons.
I had a basic understanding of French when I purchased this book. I would not recommend it for absolute beginners, only advanced beginners and intermediate-level speakers. I purchased it back when I was still living in Florida to learn French and then bought it again here to freshen up on the basics and practice. If I would have known I was going to live in France, I would not have sold it in Montreal.
French Grammar Book
My favorite book for learning or improving French grammar is Practice Makes Perfect: Complete French Grammar. It is the most comprehensive book that I have found on verbs, pronouns and adverbs. I think it is great for beginners and intermediate-level speakers and provides you with a better foundation in grammar than a typical learn to speak French book can do alone.
This is another book that I ended up buying twice, but the second time I downloaded it on my Kindle. After buying it for my Kindle, I wish I would have just purchased the regular book. It is harder to navigate and skip around. Out of pride, I refuse to buy it a third time.
Practice French Reading and Comprehension
French Stories was my most enjoyable book for learning French. I am very tempted to buy it again, and probably will because it is so cheap. What I love most about it is on the left side of the page is the French text and the right side is the English. I would read the French text first, even if it was like Latin to me and try to understand it. Then I would read the English version and re-read the French version. If there were words that I was stuck on, I would create a flashcard for me to practice later.
This book is probably only enjoyable for people who enjoy the classics and are interested in reading classic French books. There are 10 short stories by authors such as Voltaire, Balzac and Gide.
Is there a book you would recommend to others for learning French? Let us know by leaving a comment below. I would love to know what worked for you.