Books in your Target Language

Do you have an Amazon account, and a Kindle or a Kindle reader app?

You can get foreign language books for the Kindle on Amazon. I've found hard copy books to be out of my price range, but because Kindle books are delivered electronically, they can be an affordable option. I've downloaded a few in Spanish and French that way.

The reading experience is even better, IMO, if you are using a Kindle Reader or Kindle Paperwhite. In other words, a dedicated Kindle device, not the Kindle Fire or a PC/laptop/phone with Kindle software installed on it. This is because the dedicated devices allow you to install a XXXX->English dictionary. Then, as you're reading, you just touch an unfamiliar word and the dictionary entry for it pops up. It greatly enhances understanding without derailing your train of thought. Much better than having to stop and flip through a hard copy dictionary.

EDIT: the apps now support bilingual dictionaries! w00t!! Thanks to Steffibookworm and JimOser for this info, including screen shots. The Duolingo community is just the best :)

Here's how to find them:
- Log in to Amazon
- Click the "three bar" menu icon at top left
- Books & Audible -> Kindle Books

In the left-hand pane, scroll down and click "Foreign Languages". From there you can navigate to the language of your choice. You can also choose books for "Teen and Young Adult" to narrow your choice to books with less challenging content.

If you're a Prime member, you can check the "Prime Reading Eligible" box and sometimes find books that are available for free to Prime members. Or if you subscribe to "Kindle Unlimited" there are usually many books available to you for free.

February 2, 2019


Thanks, Lrtward!

Never would have bought one for myself, but a Kindle was given to me as a gift for Christmas, and it really is a nice way to read, you're right, for just the reason you mentioned: putting down a book to use a dictionary is so tedious.

Reading on a tablet or using readlang on a PC is almost as good, but the Kindle is more portable (as I have a BIG tablet). Its only drawback, as long as the screen is not too small for you to read easily (and it's a close thing for me, FWIW), is that .pdf files aren't handled by it very well. You can try to convert them w/ calibre (available for free for the major operating systems) or have amazon try to convert them, but that is pretty hit or miss. Fortunately, most file formats, even .fb2 (which Russians use a lot), usually convert quite well.

Do a search on kindle paperwhite in the forums, and quite a few good posts can be found.

BTW, for those ramping up for Latin: although Latin is not one of the languages for which a dictionary is supported, making a Latin dictionary your preferred ENGLISH dictionary works quite well: if you happen to be looking up an English word, the Kindle uses an English dictionary after not finding whatever word is in question in the Latin dictionary. AFAIK you have to buy a Latin dictionary, but there are very good ones for just two dollars.

Myself, I love owning books and don't want to pay nearly full price w/o getting a physical book, but the Kindle has surprised me--it's a very enjoyable way to read, especially foreign language books.

[Added] And see 01LearnFrench01's post and comments here.

February 2, 2019

Yes, Readlang is an excellent tool! I'm glad you mentioned it. I love it, but I tend to forget about it for some reason. Probably because I don't do a lot of reading on websites these days.

I'm not sure if the bilingual dictionary will work with a PDF book on the Kindle. I've jumped through hoops and run myself in circles until I was dizzy trying to get a PDF on my Kindle. Though a PDF might load into a browser and work with Readlang. I remember getting frustrated by it all but don't remember if I ever got things resolved or just moved on to something that required less aspirin for my headaches ;-)

February 2, 2019

As far as I can tell, the dictionary feature does not work with .pdf's. Just tried it again w/ Latin, looking up the same word in a .pdf and in a .doc file, and it only worked w/ the .doc.

Usually the way I transfer a file to the Kindle is to e-mail it as an attachment to the device. I think calibre will e-mail a file also. Sometimes when sending a file to a Kindle, amazon will convert the format to something it can read. But not always, so usually it seems best to send a format that you know will work.

Readlang is great. I was lucky to be a beta tester, and Steve R. gave testers a lifetime membership, which is really nice--I don't know how the site is w/o a premium membership, but I suspect it is still quite good--espec. for somebody like me who isn't really enamored of e-flashcards..

On Windows there is a very nice app. (probably many of them) that will do translation of words from any website. I used it all the time when on a Windows computer. I can look up the name if you're interested.

February 2, 2019

Depending on where you are and what language you're learning, your local library system might also be a great resource.

February 2, 2019

Good point - especially with inter-library loan and eBooks offered by libraries nowadays.

February 2, 2019

I recently just got a new library card because I was interested in taking several free online Spanish course offered by my local library (los angeles, ca). Been years since I had been in there! Anyhow, was surprised to find so many books, streaming audio and even movies offered by my local library in my target language. All online and free, Plus of course I can go in and get a hardcopy book/magazine if I wanted. But it will be a while before I run out of online stuff .

I do like Amazon and even Google for online books.

Reading in your target language really boosts your vocabulary, comprehension and overall grasp/usage of the language. Find something you enjoy reading and you will really start to enjoy your studies!

February 4, 2019

Discussion on library resources to learn and practice languages.

February 13, 2019

I don't use Amazon or it's services, but as far as I know, the Kindle still:

*Requires you to identify yourself to get an ebook and accept a restrictive license.

*Tells Amazon what page you are reading and snoops on your notes.

*Lending is allowed for some books or for a limited time and copying the book is blocked by Digital Restrictions Management.

The Kindle also has a backdoor that allows Amazon to delete a book if they wish, and they have done this. Also the backdoor allows them to do anything to your Kindle.

There are much better ways to obtain ebooks and pay your dues if you wish to. There is no reason to be used and abused by Amazon.

February 2, 2019

Yes, lending (and borrowing) is restricted on a Kindle just like at a physical library. You need ID, you can only have the book for a certain amount of time (with option to renew the checkout), there are waiting lists for popular books, etc.

You can opt to share your notes or not. I don't use that feature so it doesn't affect me.

I do see how this electronic tracking would make a person uncomfortable, and I understand your choice not to use it. I'm glad you added your input. It gives this discussion some balance.

February 2, 2019

Thank you. When speaking about the kindle, my points are made in the realm of digital copies and not physical. Checkout times are there to provide everyone a chance to read each book and you are not physically restricted from copying the book or lending it to a friend. Of course that is if you have provided ID and that is your choice, but using the library and reading their books there does not require ID. Waiting lists is one problem pertaining to physical copies as there can not be an infinite supply and one that does not restrict.

When I spoke of other ways to obtain ebooks, it pertained to that alone and not physical copies. There are many ways to obtain ebooks and software to read them that respects your privacy and freedom without being abused and spied on or mistreated.

February 2, 2019

Amazon is a terrible company ethically (possibly the worst employer in my country), and I'm all for boycotting them, but I don't know of a better e-book company. They also run Duolingo's servers so you can't avoid supporting them to some extent, sadly.

February 3, 2019

The Kindle optimizer google extension adds instant translate functionality to the Kindle Cloud Reader. Books can be read online on a computer without a kindle.

Searching Amazon can be tricky sometimes, below are lists of books that can be read on the Kindle or the Cloud Reader. Because these books are free and in the public domain, readers have unlimited time to read them, they never expire.

February 2, 2019

Wonderful! That's very helpful, thank you.

February 2, 2019

I tried this with Itunes/ibooks and all I seemed to be able to find was children's books like snowwhite etc. But I was actually looking for a specific book so I probably didn't pay much attention to the other books on offer.

Yeah physical books can get super expensive, I bought one recently after finding the specific book I was after, it seemed to be avaliable in the UK, half a world away.

I think I need to be less picky next time and find something as an ebook.

February 2, 2019

LoL, I've read (okay, started and abandoned) some real trash eBooks. But hey, foreign language for free - can't be too picky :D

February 2, 2019

The kindle apps have the dictionaries, too. And a function called word wise, but I'm not entirely sure for which languages it is offered. edit: English and Chinese only. It can be very helpful for people who aren't native English speakers, giving the translation embeded in the text. And it can be adjusted to your own language level, giving more or less hints.

February 2, 2019

Good to know that the apps support the bilingual dictionaries. Thanks for that update. The last time I checked it had been an oft-requested feature (for years) but wasn't yet available. I'll update my post.

I just noticed "Word Wise" today. I don't recall having seen it before. Thanks for the screen shot!

February 2, 2019

I very much appreciate and enjoy Readlang, and one can't beat the instant access to a dictionary. I've often even OCR'd books so I could read them on the site.

I've also found foreign language books to be quite expensive when purchased new. However, I'm fortunate to have several second-hand bookstores in my area, and have managed to find quite a few very nice books for less than a dollar. I've found there to be a steady turnover in the selection at these stores. Naturally this is a resource that's heavily dependent upon the language one is studying, and the type of community one lives in. Nonetheless, I just thought I'd mention this as a potentially overlooked resource. :-)

February 3, 2019

Yes, used book stores can be an excellent source of foreign language books. There are none near me, but a relative that I visit a couple of times a year has a huge one near her. I've picked up a couple of books in Spanish there for a buck or so. Thanks for bringing that up!

February 3, 2019

Maybe in the past, Kindle readers did not have dicitionaries.

The Kindle reader for my Mac Desktop and the Kindle Reader for my Mac iPad, both have dictionaries.

!(Lola Lago págino 1](



February 2, 2019

Great to know! They didn't for the longest time (years), and I just gave up checking. I'll update my post. Don't you love that feature?

February 2, 2019

Fantastic Lrtward, definitely going to check that out. I need to bring my Kindle out from hibernation :) Thanks for sharing!!

February 2, 2019

Super!!! Thank You for the great amazon trick.

February 2, 2019

For Spanish:

google: Lola Lago Kindle

google: Lola Lago youtube

Lola Lago owns a lady detective agency in Madrid. Each book is about one of her cases.

If you buy the Kindle book, there is also an option to buy the audio book.

On youtube, one can see high school skits of some of the parts of Lola Lago books.

February 2, 2019

Sounds good, thanks!

There are quite a few sites w/ public domain books in Spanish--books that are older, written in older Spanish, but free. Here's one such site found recently. The books are (usually? all?) in .epub and so must be reformatted to .mobi for the Kindle with something like Calibre or by amazon. They are very nicely laid out for 6" e-readers. Not all of the links are active, but there is quite a bit that's worthwhile.

February 2, 2019

I just moved (again) and my new library system is the suckiest in the world. Even though there are thousands of spanish speakers they have zilch in Spanish or anything else so I'll try this!

February 3, 2019

Have you talked to a librarian yet? My own local library looks sucky when you walk in the door (it is literally one medium sized room plus a tiny children's room) but come to find out they belong to a consortium of libraries and they offer a TON of digital media: books, audio, movies, etc. It's worth asking about.

February 4, 2019

And it doesn't hurt to point out that your area has a large Spanish-speaking population (to say nothing of people wanting to learn Spanish) and the book collection perhaps should reflect that reality.

Most libraries have a system whereby you can request or recommend specific books. It also would not hurt to pick out specific Spanish books you might be interested in and submit recommendations for a different book, say, every month or so. Librarians are more likely to get books (and types of books) for which there is demonstrated interest.

February 4, 2019

It's also worth checking out other libraries in your system (if there's more than one).

You might also check about reciprocal agreements with other library systems. For instance, I live in a Maryland suburb of Washington. If I wanted to, I could get a Washington library card, because Washington has reciprocal agreements with every jurisdiction that borders it. Similarly, when I lived in Massachusetts, I could get a library card for any system in the state I found convenient and was not limited to the libraries of whatever system I lived in at a specific time.

Also, I second Lrtward's suggestion about checking into any consortiums your library might belong to. The state of Maryland has an Interlibrary loan system for the entire state.

Also, if there is a local community college or state university in your area, check into whether non-student citizens can get library cards.

February 4, 2019

For those of you studying German and not living in Germany

google: onleihe Goethe name of your country

For USA:

The Goethe Institute has a free online library.

Once registered search: A1 for easy books.

Can also search for:

A2, B1, B2, C1, C2

Among other things there is:

Der Spiegel (#1 magazine in Germany, similar to Time Magazine in USA)

Dein Spiegel (children's version of Der Spiegel)

Also interesting: Deutsch für dich

February 5, 2019

I have found the Italian site There is a lot there - language course, e-books and much more. Lucrezia told me about it. She does lovely Italian YouTube videos. She is very pretty with a lovely clear voice.

February 3, 2019

I've had some luck finding public domain books in German on Project Gutenberg and in French on One problem I'm encountering with the German, though, is archaic language and spellings. Another is the HUGE vocabulary: I'm about a hundred pages in, and I've had to write down and look up about fifteen hundred new words. It's fun, though, and when I get really stuck, there's always pasting huge blocks of text into Google Translate. :)

February 4, 2019

If you want French ebooks you can download some for free legally here : They are old classic books in French (not necessarily originaly written in French, there are a lot of translation) free from copyrights.

February 4, 2019

I only read forums and blogs, much better than books

February 2, 2019

I subscribed to a Spanish forum once, and I like weblogs on YouTube (for listening), but I really enjoy the variety of vocabulary and depth of experience that a book provides.

Why do you say forums and blogs are better than books? I'm interested to hear what you have to say; I could probably get a lot more out of them if I knew ways to select them more intelligently or use them more effectively.

February 2, 2019

they are more "real", like a lot of them relate to current events

you get to read text written by different people

the style of writing is much more relaxed than a book, you have smilies etc.

February 2, 2019

Thanks for the explanation. That does make a lot of sense. It's more like reading/listening to a conversation, and less like attending a lecture. Good point!

February 2, 2019
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