Learn Any Language

Lower on this page, you'll find a growing list of recommendations on books, movies and so on. You might want to have a look at some of our earlier lists with lots of inspiration:

List of tv series in French, both original and those with good quality dubbing

List of French movies and tv series with accurate subtitles

Contemporary Literature

Cover Title Comments Thumbs Up
Vol2.jpg Pierre-Alexandre Garneau. Vol, Vapeur, Vengeance Very approachable steampunk. Uses the passé simple, available on Kindle in the US, too (emk) emk
Camus.jpg Albert Camus. L'étranger   Simple sentences but does contain passé simple.  (sprachprofi) Sprachprofi, kanewai, Levi, seraven, Mork the Fiddle, zhuzilu6wc
Nos amis.jpg Bernard Weber. 

Nos amis les humains

A short SF novella in the present tense, with slightly more modern conversational vocabulary. Available for the Kindle in France, but not the US. (emk) emk
Vian.jpg Boris Vian. L'écume des jours. Love, jazz, and sadness in post-war Paris. (kanewai) kanewai, Patriciaa, Marc Frisch, cavesa
Monster.jpg Patrick Bauwen. 


Randomly picked this up in the library because I wanted to read a thriller; I was pretty surprised when I noticed that it's narrated in the present tense and not in passé simple. (bao) bao
Simeon.jpg Simenon. Maigret detective stories Grammar is surprisingly simple (I think it may be wonderful for a low intermediate or even higher beginner) and I enjoy the bits of police slang :-)  (cavesa) cavesa, languagelover, mork the fiddle
Vargas2.jpg Fred Vargas. mysteries Other author of great, and in my opinion not hard,detective novels  (cavesa) cavesa, emk, kanewai
Vendredi.jpg Michel Tournier. Vendredi ou les limbes du pacifique. A re-imagining of the Robinson Crusoe story. It's a great mix of adventure and philosophy,and was surprisingly poignant and haunting at the end.The writingisn't complicated, but you should be comfortable with the subjunctive and simple past to enjoy it. Highly recommended. (kanewai) kanewai

Margeurite Yourcenar,

L'oeuvre au noir; 

Mémoires d'Hadrien

One of the best authors who wrote in French, but most of hernovels are pretty hard core in terms of vocabulary. You can start with a book of her short stories though called Dernier du rêve. (FX) FX, languagelover, kanewai, winters, SCTroyenne
Lanuit.jpg René Barjavel. La Nuit des temps    Frozen bodies are discovered in the antarctic but are discovered to be from a 9000 year old civilization more advanced than our own. What happens when they are revived? (Conroy) Conroy, VivianJ5

Trilogy by Agota Kristof.

Le Grand Cahier;

La Preuve;

Le Troisème Mensonge, 

It's written in rather simple French, because the author is Hungarian and French is not her mother tongue. This means you can read it quite fast, which is good for your confidence. And it's a great story too if you’re not afraid of unreliable narrators.  (meadowmeal)

Meadowmeal, Languagelover, Mork the Fiddle, Homogenik
Russe.jpg Emmanuel Carrère. Un roman russe.

The story is extremely well written and Carrère's french is simple and pure, so I guess it wouldn't be a problem for foreigners.  (wilco)

Makine.jpg Andreï Makine. Le testament français.

A good example of high quality French literature, though his language might be too difficult  (wilco)

Tristesse.jpg Françoise Sagan. Bonjour Tristesse An early review called this novel a "vulgar, sad little book." If your tastes run that way, as mine do, then this is for you. The difficulty of the language is not for beginners, but otherwise you should not have too much trouble. (mork the fiddle) rggg, michamotor, Mork the Fiddle

Marguerite Duras, L'amant

Un barrage contre le Pacifique

languagelover, Homogenik, SCTroyenne
Particules.jpg Michel Houellebecq, Les particules élementaires languagelover

Frédéric Beigbeder, Windows on the World

99 Francs

99 francs may not be for everyone, a lot of sexual and drug references (Marc Frisch) Patriciaa, Marc Frisch
Classe.jpg Emmanuel Carrère. La classe de neige. A dark fairy tale. It's quite short and not too difficult. (automne) .automne
Amelie.jpg Amélie Nothomb. Stupeurs et tremblements A Belgian author who writes strange novels. (Patriciaa) Patriciaa, anya, meadowmeal, nadia, tarvos, unzum, Conroy

Éric Emmanuel Schmitt.

Oscar et la dame rose;  

L'Evangile selon Pilate

Oscar: A touching book about a child with cancer and his relationship with god. This may sound cheesy but it's not. There's a lot of style in the writing, very enjoyable. (Patriciaa) Patriciaa, bajacero, anya, meadowmeal
Julien.jpg Florian Zeller. Julien Parme. An excellent source of common expressions in spoken French. It's kind of a french version of The Catcher in the Rye, both in content and in tone. (blauw) blauw

Anna Gavalda. Ensemble, c'est tout;

Je voudrais que quelqu'un m'attende quelque part; 

35 kilos d'espoir

Her language is modern, easy, and it's all about dialogues not pages of description.(nadia).  blauw, nadia, dolly, bajacero; Mork the Fiddle
La mort.jpg Robert Merle. La mort est mon métier A fictionalized biography of Rudolf Hoess, commandant of the concentration camp Auschwitz. (nadia).  nadia
Viper.jpg Hervé Bazin. Vipère au poing. This book is set in the middle of the 20th century, if I'm not mistaken. In a very ironic key, it portrays the life of an aristocratic but impoverished family. (nadia).  nadia
Musso.jpg Guillaume Musso. Seras-tu là? It was a very gripping read, a page-turner with a fantastic twist in its plot, just all right for my level of French. (nadia).  nadia

Marc Lévy.

Et si c'était vrai

I love Marc Lévy and have listened to the audiobook over and over. (dolly) dolly, Patricia

Patric Senécal.

Les sept jours du Talion

If you're looking for some horror stories try this. (Patricia).  Patricia

Maurice Druon.

Les Rois Maudits

A series of 7 historical novels about the intrigues of the Capetien kings in the early 1300s. Very well written and extremely gripping but occasionally challenging French so not for the beginner. (LLF) And let's add, now most famous for being the inspiration of Game of Thrones. (mork the fiddle) LLF, Mork the Fiddle
Suicide.jpg Jean Teulé. Le Magasin des Suicides It's all about a family who runs a shop where you can buy whatever you need to kill yourself; but, unfortunately, the youngest child of the family is not depressed enough and he annoys everyone because he is always so positive and so happy. I found it brilliant, funny and very ironic, you have to like "l'humour noir" but if you do, then you're gonna have a nice moment reading this. (violane) violane
Celine.jpg Louis-Ferdinand Céline. Voyage au bout de la nuit. Actually, this is a perfectly horrible book written by a perfectly horrible man. From the trenches of WWI to Africa to Detroit to Paris, he hates everything. But his writing is amazing. He hates with style. (kanewai) kanewai, Mork the Fiddle, Marc Frisch
La vie.jpg Geroges Pérec. La vie, mode d'emploi One of my favorites (Marc) Marc Frisch
Avalee.jpg Réjean Ducharme. L'avalée des avalés Homogenik

Romain Gary.

La promesse de l'aube

La vie devant soi

Yasmin.jpg Yasmina Khadra. L'attentat. It's about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a doctor who discovers a huge secret his wife has been hiding from him. A powerful book. (Emily95) Emily96
'Il fait beau' and related titles For beginning french learners I definitely recommend, available on the kindle stores. They are very basic and gradually build on what you know. Even better is that they are aimed at adults so it isn't too frustrating to read as an adult. The other basic french readers I have seen have been written for children, so this is a great change. (dandt) dandt
Ramses.jpg Christian Jacq. Ramsès - le temple des millions d'années 
This is the second book in a series set at the time of Pharaoh Ramses. The author is an egyptologist, which means his descriptions are very colourful and contain accurate information on Ancient Egypt. (sprachprofi)   Sprachprofi
Lecture.jpg Lectures CLE en français facile A great series. There are four levels and wide variety of topics. Some come with CDs (tamise) tamise

Henri Troyat.  Les samailles et les moissons.

Tant que la terre durea

Really anything by Henri Troyat - I read many of his novels when I was at A2 (VivianJ5) VivianJ5
Secret.jpg René Barjavel. Le grand secret. VivianJ5
Roi2.jpg Françoise Chandernagor. L'Allée du roi. VivianJ5
Deon.jpg Michel Déon. Un souvenir. Beautiful story of a man reminiscing about a long ago love. (VivianJ5) VivianJ5
Suite.jpg Irène Némirovsky. Suite Française. Just seeing the novel here in this list raises the hair on the back of my neck and brings a tear to my eye. Powerful. (mork the fiddle) VivianJ5, SCTroyenne, Mork the Fiddle

Classical Literature

Cover Title Comments Thumbs Up
Moliere 2.jpg Molière Mostly present tense Sprachprofi
Tour.jpg Jules Verne. Le tour du monde en quatre-vingt jours A great classic, despite some occasionally challenging vocabulary. Uses the passé simple. Available for free on the Kindle. (emk) emk, nadia, Patricia, cavesa, renaissancemedi , zhuzilu6wc
Meaulnes.jpg Alain-Fournier. Le Grand Meaulnes A romantic, somewhat mysterious, coming of age story in a rural village. (kanewai) kanewai, Mork the Fiddle
Liasons.jpg Pierre Chodelos de Laclos. 

Les liasons dangereuses

C'est quelque chose d'interessant et j'ai vraiment aimé ce livre. (cavesa) cavesa

André Gide. 


La symphonie pastorale

Gide wrote short novellas that explore freedom, sensuality, and morality.  Easy accessible for a beginning student. (kanewai) kanewai

Guy de Maupassant. 

Short Stories; Bel Ami

Short stories set in High Society. (kanewai) kanewai, nadia, cavesa

Marcel Pagnol. La Gloire de mon père

L'eau des collines (Jean de Florrete and Manon des sources)

La gloire: The first part of the author's memories of growing up in Provence. Really charming and not too hard for a first adult level book. (conroy)

Jean: Not too hard and very French (languagelover)

Conroy, languagelover, VivianJ5
Proust.jpg Marcel Proust.  À la recherche du temps perdu A massive epic that contains some ecstacally beautiful writing, and some that takes tedious navel gazing to unheard of levels. Everyone should try Proust at some point in the challenge, but not at the beginning,and be warned: He is a challenge, and possibly a bit insane. I think he spent five pages once describing a ride in an elevator. (kanewai) kanewai, mork the fiddle (though there should be an asterisk for me on this)

Émile ZolaLes Rougon-Macquart series. 

Germinal; L'Œuvre; Au Bonheur des Dames

Classic series dealing with the history of one family during the Second Empire. Best known work is Germinal, about anarchists, communists, and a wildcat miners strike (which is far more exciting than it sounds). Zola is a master at creating unique characters and at describing cultures, but the plots can move slowly. (kanewai) 

kanewai, cavesa, Conroy
Giono.jpg Jean Giono. Colline.  A wonderful short novel about the inhabitants of an isolated Provence village of four houses. The eldest resident lays dying, and the others start noticing strange and disturbing omens in the land. Highly recommended, with simple and beautiful writing. Would be great for a beginner. (kanewai) kanewai
Dumas.jpg Alexandre Dumas. Le Comte de Monte-Cristo C'est un de mes livres les plus aimés (cavesa) Patriciaa, languagelover, nadia, cavesa, renaissancemedi
Enfants.jpg Jean Cocteau. 

Les enfants terribles.

A fascinating and mysterious story about two children who live without parents. (michamotor) michamotor
Voldenuit.jpg Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.   

Vol de nuit

About flying, but not only about flying. (michamotor) michamotor, Mork the Fiddle
Bovary.jpg Gustave Flaubert. Madame Bovary. Nicely written and tightly plotted. Be warned though that Madame Bovary is not a hero!  Flaubert watches the damage unfold without commenting or judging, which adds to the novels power. (kanewai) kanewai, Conroy
Volatire.jpg Voltaire. Candide, ou l'optimisme kanewai
Les mis.jpg Victor Hugo. Les misérables. The good news that Les Mis is more accessable than you would think. It's actually five books, so you can space them out.  The story goes far deeper than the movie or musical does, and the action scenes are riveting. There's more crime, more pain, more drama, more hope, more of everything. The downside: Hugo goes off on a lot of long-winded tangents that drag on ... and on ... and on ...   (kanewai) kanewai, renaissancemedi
Stendhal.jpg Stendhal  renaissancemedi

Non Fiction

Cover Title Comments Thumbs Up
150x Marie de Varney

. L'Irak du silence 

This is a non-fictional book about the state of Iraq before and after the first gulf war. (sprachprofi) Sprachprofi
Braudel mediterranee.jpg
Fernand Braudel

La Méditerranée - L'éspace et l'histoire


Les hommes et l'héritage

Fernand Braudel was a major French historian and leader of the Annales School which stresses the study of long-term social history (la longue durée). The books in this series trace the history of the cultures surrounding Mediterranean through a series of essays by different authors exploring different themes. SCTroyenne, Mork the Fiddle

Pernoud la femme.jpg

Régine Pernoud

La Femme au temps des cathédrales

Historian and medievalist, Régine Pernoud was a prolific biographer. She capped off a series of biographies of great women of the Middle Ages with this work about the lives of women in general of that era. She argues that compared to Antiquity which came before and the Modern Era which came after, the Middle Ages was a great time for women and continues her life's work in recasting the popular view of the Middle Ages as a sombre period. SCTroyenne

Books for Kids and Tweens

Cover Title Comments Thumbs Up
Etoiles2.jpg Erik
. Le livre des étoiles
I enjoyed it and it's not too difficult (cavesa) cavesa
Le petite.jpg Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Le Petit Prince More advanced, with extensive use of the passé simple (in the first person, too!) and occasionally the imparfait du subjonctif.  (emk).  It's an amazing book ... a very deep book which tells about love and death in an allegorical form. (nadia) emk, kanewai, nadia, stelle, nadia , zhuzilu6wc
Nassim.jpg Ingrid Thobois. Nassim et Nassima  A short childrens' book about two friends growing up in Afghanistan. I think it sticks to simpler verb tenses. (emk) emk
Mangerais.jpg Sylvain Donnio. Je mangerais bien un enfant: My favorite very short childrens' book, about a baby crocodile who wants to grow big enough to eat a kid. Suitable for pre-schoolers with a warped sense of humor, and short enough for bed-time. (emk) emk

Anthony BuckeridgeBennett au collège   

The Jennings childrens books by Anthony Buckeridge have been translated ito French, except "Jennings" is now "Bennett." Classic stories of an English schoolboy at a boarding school and all the scrapes and escapades he gets into. Still very funny to read as an adult. (conroy) Conroy
Nicolas.jpg Goscinny & Sempé. Le Petit Nicolas

We read/studied it in class and had lots of fun doing it. It's a good read if you're looking for something easy. Our teacher told us that the reason she had chosen it was that it would encourage us by making us realise that we can read in French and that books in French don't necessarily have to be difficult.  (gebaundemuishond)

gebaundemuishond, Elwing, Stelle, songlines, michamotor , zhuzilu6wc
Le Lion Cover.jpg Joseph Kessel. 

Le lion


Comtesse de Ségour  Les malheurs de Sophie (Trilogie de Fleruville)

Her books are really easy and entertaining, if you love a certain old-fashioned flavour. The language is not noticebly old-fashioned. (cabaire) Cabaire
Frisson.jpg Mélanie Watt Kids love them - but there's a lot there for adults too. I actually use them in my adult French courses.  (stelle) Stelle
Lundi.jpg Danielle Simard. Le champion du lundi. My fourth- and fifth-graders (immersion students, so reading at a slightly lower level than they would be in English) really loved her series that follows the days of the week, about a little boy named Julien. (stelle)   Stelle

Alain Bergeron. Zzzut!

About a little boy who can't do an oral presentation in class because his zipper gets stuck in the bathroom. Ridiculous, right? Well, this book made the rounds of my all-male adult French class. Everyone wanted to read it - and everyone loved it, even the self-professed non-reader who hadn't read a book in any language since high school 25 years earlier.  (stelle)



Dominique Demers. La nouvelle maîtresse.

About a very unorthodox substitute teacher who takes over a class. It's aimed at a slightly higher age group than the books I mentioned by Bergeron and Simard. This series is very popular with the 'tween crowd in French Canada. They made a movie out of the first book a few years ago.  (stelle)


Monster2.jpg Gudule. On a un monstre dans la classe Really neat humour, especially if you are 10 years old (sennin) sennin

Erik Orsenna.

La grammaire est une chanson douce 

The Chevaliers du Subjonctif

Good reads, and don't worry, they're stories not textbooks! (sennin) sennin
Remi.jpg Story books with audio from Hachette for young readers. Rémi et le mystère de Saint-Péray; Enquête capitale It is clearly aimed at native speakers, because there are footnotes for what they consider some of the harder words.  Have CDs and exercises (jeffers) jeffers

Bandes Dessinées

Cover Title Comments Thumbs Up


Joann SfarrLe chat du rabbin Series about a somewhat blasphemous cat in 1930's Algeria who learns to speak after eating the rabbi's canary. (kanewai)  kanewai

Hergé.  Les aventures de Tintin

Tintin is great! 200 million copies have sold world wide, so a lot of people agree. These are Indian Jones style adventures that span the globe. Lots of clever wordplay and iconic characters. Le lotus bleu (1936) is a good place to start. (kanewai) kanewai, emk , zhuzilu6wc
Asterix.jpg René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo.  Astérix le Gaulois Comic series about a group of Gauls using every trick in the book to resist the Romans. A fun read, with a lot of sly jokes and cultural allusions that are easy to miss, and that make re-reading the books as fun as reading them for the first time. (kanewai) kanewai, emk, renaissancemedi , zhuzilu6wc

Marjane Satrapi.  Persèpolis: The Story of an Iranian Childhood ..

The memoirs of a young girl growing up during the Islamic Revolution. This is one not to be missed. (kanewai) kanewai, emk, vermillion, cavesa , zhuzilu6wc
Siegfried.jpg Alex Alice. Siegfried. Beautiful work centering on characters from the Ring of the Nibelung cycle. (kanewai) kanewai, emk
Blacksad 3.jpg Jean Díaz Canales and Junajo Guanido. Blacksad Like a film noir, but with a tough cat detective at it's center. (kanewai) kanewai, songlines, emk
Jerusalem.jpg Guy Delisle. Shenzen; Pyongyang; Chroniques de Jérusalem. vermillion, fezmond, songlines , zhuzilu6wc
Silence.jpg Anything by Didier Comès. First and foremost Silence and Eva vermillion
Triangle.jpg Didier Convard and Luc Révillon. Le triangle secret Fun and not hard (a Dan Brown genre story) (vermillion) vermillion
La Catastrophe Aldebaran tome 1.jpg Leo. Aldéberan emk, Jeffers
Moi Rene Tardi prisonnier au Stalag II B.jpg Moi René Tardi. Prisonnier de guerre au Stalag IIB A true story set in a WWII prison camp. (emk) emk
Ab Irato.jpg Thierry Labrosse. Ab Irato This was written by an artist who lives in Montreal, and it's a sci-fi dystopia with life-extension for the rich, a corrupt government, and a popular rebellion that's about to go very sour. (emk) emk
Kayak Manuel illustre de navigation en eau vive perfectionne.jpg William Nealy. Kayak: Manuel illustré de naviagation en eau vive emk
Immigrants2.jpg collectif. Immigrants emk
Pico.jpg Dominque Roques et Alexis Dormal. Pico Bogue About a little boy, similar to Calvin and Hobbes in that he is remarkably philosphical at times. (kanewai) Emily96
Paul.jpg Michel Rabaglati. Paul. A well known Québéçois series. They are fairly easy to understand. (Emily96) Emily96

Films and Television

Title Year Comments Thumbs Up
À bout de souffle (Breathless) Directed by Jean-Luc Goddard 1960  Considered one of the greatest French films for its style and editing. One of the "radical" changes it brought about was "jump cuts", but rather than improving the pace, it just looked sloppy. And I read that he never really intended the jump cuts, he just realized the film was too long and began to cut loads and loads. Possibly a bit over rated, but it is watchable and the dialogue is fairly clear.  (jeffers) jeffers
Bob le flambeur  1965 Another classic film, which is quite enjoyable. The character Bob gets a mention during the dialogue of Breathless. (jeffers) jeffers
Rien à déclarer (Nothing to Declare)  2010 Recommended somewhere on these forums because it has good French subtitles. I really enjoyed this film and I have watched it several times. (jeffers) jeffers
Panique au village  2009 I saw a bit of this on TV5, and had to buy the DVD. Crappy animated toys in a mad melange of comedy genius. Absolutely weird, and totally hilarious. (jeffers) jeffers
Le dîner de cons 1998 Probably my favourite French film I have seen so far. I have watched it several times, and still laugh out loud at many of the scenes. The dialogue is rather fast, so I'm missing a lot of it, but I still highly recommend it.I have also seen the Hindi remake, Bheja Fry, which is pretty good. Apparently the English remake is awful. (jeffers) jeffers, kanewai
Les quatre cents coups (The 400 Blows) 1959 Another one of the greats of French cinema. This one deserves every bit of the acclaim it has received. You are drawn immediately into the life of a young delinquent in Paris. The acting is brilliant and the story keeps you watching. Unfortunately, it is one of those old films which sort of fades away rather than coming to a conclusion. I won't spoil the ending for those who haven't seen it; it is a metaphor of sorts, but I ended up thinking, that's all? Anyway, highly recommended. (jeffers) jeffers
Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain (Amelie)  2001 Thoroughly enjoyable. Need I say more? (jeffers)


Et soudain tout le monde me manque 

2011 On US netflix. Dramatic comedy about the relationship between a 20-something girl and her father.  (Iolanthe)


Les femmes du 6ème étage   

2010 Also on US netflix. A decent comedy about Spanish maids who live above their employers.  (Iolanthe)


Les Émotifs Anonymes 

2010 Also on US netflix! Very cute romantic comedy involving a chocolate factory owner and a chocolatier prodigy  (Iolanthe)


Le Premier Jour du Reste de Ta Vie

2008 A moving drama about five pivotal days in a family's life.  (Iolanthe)



2010 Catherine Deneuve plays a housewife who discovers that she is capable of more than being a trophy wife. Entertaining comedy.  (Iolanthe)


La Môme 

2007 Marion Cotillard won an Oscar for her portrayal of Edith Piaf in this biopic. A quality film.  (Iolanthe)



2010 Another netflix find. Fun romantic comedy about a haphazard secretary with a talent for speed typing.  (Iolanthe)


Germinal  1993 Based on Zola's novel. Set in a French mining village in the 19th century this is a gritty tale of the grinding poverty and appaling conditions leading to a strike. (conroy) Conroy
Les Diaboliques  1955 Stunning murder thriller. Apparently Hitchcock wanted to make this film but Cluzot beat him to it. (conroy) Conroy
Ascenceur pour l'échafaud  1958 Tense drama - protagonist commits a murder, but will he get away with it? Cool jazz score by Miles Davis and great shots of Paris at night. (conroy) Conroy
La Gloire de mon père  1990 Part 1 of Marcel Pagnol's reminicences of growing up in the hills of Provence. Very charming with beautiful scenery. Based on the book. (conroy) Conroy
Le Château de  ma mère 1990 Part 2 of Pagnol's childhood in Provence. Based on the book. Conroy
La Belle et la Bête  1943 Beautiful fantasy. The beast's dialogue is all quite slowly spoken so it's easy to follow. (conroy) Conroy, kanewai
L'assassin habite au 21 1942 Serial killer on the loose, is tracked down to 21 Ave Junot, but which of the residents in the boarding house is the murderer? Mix of light comedy and drama. (conroy) Conroy
Amour 2012 Concerns an old couple where the woman gets dementia. Hard to watch but utterly compelling and true to life. Emmanuelle Riva should've won an Oscar. Conroy
Le retour de Martin Guerre  1982 Set in a village in 16th century France. Based on a true story involving identity theft. Great performances, and a fascinating story. (conroy) Conroy, Mork the Fiddle
Intouchables 2011 An amazing movie about an aristocrat quadriplegic who hires a young man from the slums to be his caretaker. (emily96) Emily96
Valérian et Laureline 2007 My favorite French cartoon.  It's also a comic book (rdearman) rdearman

Podcasts and Audio

Title Year Comments Thumbs Up