top of page

10 books in French to practice

Updated: Feb 29

Many of you have asked me for a list of "easy" books to read to get started reading in French.


Forget The Little Prince and The Stranger that you're probably tired of seeing, forget classic literature which is more difficult to read and sometimes boring. In this article, you will find 10 modern books in French that will allow you to practice in a different way between classes, discover new vocabulary and sentence structures that may be different from those you see during classes.



La liste de mes envies (Grégoire Delacourt)

1. La liste de mes envies (Grégoire Delacourt)


This 192-page novel published in 2013 was a great success, not only in France but also worldwide since it was sold in 27 countries! A proverb says "money doesn't buy happiness", and this novel perfectly illustrates it. Fun fact: the novel was adapted into a movie in 2014 (see the trailer).


Level: From A2/B1


Summary: When Jocelyne Guerbette wins a large sum of money in the lottery and discovers she can now buy anything she wants, she decides to make a list of her desires. She wonders to herself: isn't there much more to lose than to gain?


“Il rêve d’un écran plat à la place de notre vieux poste Radiola. D’une Porsche Cayenne. D’une cheminée dans le salon. De la collection complète des James Bond en DVD. D’un chronographe Seiko. Et d’une femme plus belle et plus jeune que moi ; mais ça il ne me le dit pas… Jo a cessé de me trouver belle, de me toucher ; il s’est mis à trainer devant le radiola le soir en mangeant des glaces qu’on lui donnait à l’usine, puis à boire des 33 export. Et j’ai pris l’habitude de m’endormir seule.”



Ta deuxième vie commence quand tu comprends que tu n’en as qu’une (Raphaëlle Giordano)

Raphaëlle Giordano isa personal development coach. This 256-page book, published in 2017, is quite easy to read despite the use of the simple past ("passé simple"). It is more of a personal development book than a novel, but the story is developed around fictional characters.

Level: From A2/B1

Summary: The protagonist, Camille, is 38 and a half and seemingly has it all, yet still feels like something is missing. She embarks on a journey with a personal coach, Claude, to help her find the joy and fulfillment she is seeking. Through creative and meaningful experiences, Camille gradually transforms her life and sets out to accomplish her dreams.


“Vous souffrez probablement d’une forme de routinite aiguë. Une quoi ? Une routinite aiguë. C’est une affection de l’âme qui touche de plus en plus de gens dans le monde, surtout en Occident. Les symptômes sont presque toujours les mêmes : baisse de motivation, morosité chronique, perte de repères et de sens, difficulté à être heureux malgré une opulence de biens matériels, désenchantement, lassitude… -

Mais… Comment vous savez tout ça ? Je suis routinologue. Routino-quoi ?“



Juste avant le bonheur (Agnès Ledig)

3. Juste avant le bonheur (Agnès Ledig)


This novel was published in 2013 and has received numerous awards such as the 2013 Press Prize. It is the touching story of a single mother raising her 3 year old son but to whom fate will eventually smile. :)

Level: From A2/B1

Summary: It has been a long time since Julie no longer believes in fairy tales. Working as a cashier in a supermarket, she is raising her little Lulu alone, the only ray of sunshine in a difficult life. Yet, on a particularly dark day, fate will reach out to them. Moved by their situation, a generous man invites them to his house on the seaside in Brittany. Is luck finally turning for Julie?...


“Ce n’est pas la vie qui est belle, c’est nous qui la voyons belle ou moins belle. Ne cherchez pas à atteindre un bonheur parfait, mais contentez vous des petites choses de la vie, qui mises bout à bout permettent de tenir la distance.”



Je vais bien, ne t'en fais pas (Olivier Adam)

This novel, published in 2000, was also adapted to the cinema in 2006 (see the trailer). Throughout the story, we follow Claire, searching for her brother who has been gone for two years and with whom she has had no news.

Level: From A2/B1


Summary: Another letter from Loïc. They are rare. A few scribbled sentences on a piece of paper. He is doing well. He hasn't forgiven. He will not return. He loves her. Nothing else. Nothing about his sudden departure. Two years since he left. Shortly after Claire got her diploma. When she returned from vacation, he was gone. His brother had disappeared, without reason. Without a word of explanation. Claire weakly believes there was a dispute between Loïc and his father. Tomorrow, she will leave her job as a cashier at the supermarket and head to Portbail. That's where the letter was mailed from. Claire has a week's vacation to find Loïc. Speak to him. Understand.


"Claire ouvre. C’est une carte du Cotentin. Le tampon de la poste indique Portbail, 21 août 1998. Irène pleure doucement. Elle fait signe à Claire de cacher ça avant que son père n’arrive. C’est la première carte que Claire reçoit de Portbail. Son cœur bat vite. C’était inespéré. Loïc doit y être encore. Portbail c’est sûrement tout petit. Claire prend sa mère dans ses bras."



En attendant Bojangles (Olivier Bourdeaut)

5. En attendant Bojangles (Olivier Bourdeaut)


One of my favorite books in French so far! And another book adapted to the cinema! This small book published in 2016 won many literary awards. It has the advantage of being short (176 pages), so it's a good option for a beginner reader. A somewhat quirky style but endearing characters.


Level: From B2


Summary: The story tells the tale of an unlikely family - a retired and already-published father, a passionate and slightly mad mother, and a "charming and intelligent child who made his parents proud," quickly taken out of school. The apartment also houses Miss Superfétatoire, a Numidian crane, and occasionally Senator L'Ordure. In this world everyone invents stories, perverting common phrases. Nobody opens the mail. And Mr. Bojangles is the mother's favorite song, given to her in Nina Simone's interpretation.


"Mon petit dans la vie, il y a deux catégories de personnes qu'il faut éviter à tout prix. Les végétariens et les cyclistes professionnels. Les premiers, parce qu'un homme qui refuse de manger une entrecôte a certainement dû être cannibale dans une autre vie. Et les seconds, parce qu'un homme chapeauté d'un suppositoire qui moule grossièrement ses bourses dans un collant fluorescent pour gravir une côte à bicyclette n'a certainement plus toute sa tête. Alors, si un jour tu croises un cycliste végétarien, un conseil mon bonhomme, pousse-le très fort pour gagner du temps et cours très vite et très longtemps !"



La carte postale (Anne Berest)

6. La carte postale (Anne Berest)


Also one of the books in French I loved the most last year! This is Anne Berest's sixth novel, released on August 18th 2021 by Editions Grasset. The result of an investigation conducted in collaboration with her mother Lélia Picabia based on a mysterious postcard, this intimate and familial narrative reconstructs the story of her Jewish ancestors who died in deportation. One of the best books of 2021.


Level: From B1/B2


Summary: In this detective novel, with the help of a private detective and a criminologist, she starts a search for her ancestors who died in Auschwitz in 1942, having left Russia in 1929 and arrived in Paris via Latvia, then Palestine and finally Paris, where they will soon be registered as foreign Jews.




 Petit Pays (Gaël Faye)

7. Petit Pays (Gaël Faye)


Gael Faye is mostly known for his talents as a singer-songwriter (discover his music). But in 2016 he wrote a novel inspired by his youth in Burundi. The story follows the young Gabriel at the heart of the civil war and genocide in Rwanda. The novel has received numerous literary awards and has also been adapted to film (see the trailer).



Level: From B1/B2


Summary: Burundi, 1992. Gabriel is 10 years old and lives in a comfortable expatriate neighborhood with his French entrepreneur father, his Rwandan mother, and his younger sister, Ana. As the young boy watches his parents separate, civil war looms and, in successive waves, violence invades the neighborhood.


“Le Rwanda était devenu un immense terrain de chasse dans lequel le Tutsi était le gibier. Un humain coupable d’être né, coupable d’être. Une vermine aux yeux des tueurs, un cancrelat qu’il fallait écraser.”



Le bal des folles (Victoria Mas)

8. Le bal des folles (Victoria Mas)


Inspired by a real historical event, this novel recounts the destiny of these women, victims of a male and archaic society. Imprisoned, and thus locked up, because they are considered "insane"... A hymn to freedom for women ✊


Level: From B2/C1


The book is also available in audio version. A good opportunity to practice listening and oral comprehension, but be careful it lasts more than 6 hours!


Summary: Every year, at mid-Lent, a very strange Fool's Ball is held. For one night, all of Paris has fun to the sound of waltzes and polkas with women dressed as columbines, gypsies, zouaves and other musketeers. Divided into two rooms - on one side the idiots and epileptics; on the other the hysterics, the mad and the maniacs - this ball is in fact one of Charcot's last experiments, eager to make women of the Salpêtrière like any other. Among them, Eugénie, Louise and Geneviève, whose journey Victoria Mas traces in this first novel that lays bare the female condition in the 19th century.


“Libres ou enfermées, en fin de compte, les femmes n’étaient en sécurité nulle part. Depuis toujours, elles étaient les premières concernées par des décisions qu’on prenait sans leur accord.”



 Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran (Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt)

9. Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran (Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt)


This very short novel (96 pages) reads quickly and fairly easily. Ideal for starting to read in French (for intermediate/advanced levels). Guess what... It was also adapted into a movie 😄 (see the trailer).


Level: From B2


Summary: Paris, 1960s. Momo, a 12-year-old Jewish boy, becomes friends with the old Arab grocer from the Blue Street. But appearances are deceiving: Mr. Ibrahim, the grocer, is not Arab, the Blue Street is not blue, and the child may not be Jewish...


" — C’est fou, Monsieur Ibrahim, comme les vitrines de riches sont pauvres. Y a rien là-dedans. — C’est ça, le luxe, Momo, rien dans la vitrine, rien dans le magasin, tout dans le prix.”



Bonjour tristesse (Françoise Sagan)

10. Bonjour tristesse (Françoise Sagan)


Well, this one isn't so modern... The first novel by Françoise Sagan, it was published in 1954, but it's a classic of French literature that I love. The vocabulary can be a bit difficult, as well as the use of the past simple, but the book is about 180 pages, so it's a quick read.I highly recommend this read at an advanced level to discover a classic French novel but not boring, and still very current.

Level: From B2/C1


Summary: Cecile, a carefree teenager, spent her childhood in boarding school.She has been living with her father Raymond, a widower in his forties, for two years. She leads an idle life and enjoys a lot of freedom. During the summer of her 17th year, Cécile, her father and Elsa, his current mistress, go on vacation to the French Riviera. Raymond has also invited Anne, a seductive and intelligent woman who was a friend of his late wife. It is during this eventful period for Cécile that the young girl discovers a new feeling: sadness ("la tristesse").


“Seulement quand je suis dans mon lit, à l’aube, avec le seul bruit des voitures dans Paris, ma mémoire parfois me trahit : l’été revient et tous ses souvenirs. Anne, Anne ! Je répète ce nom très bas et très longtemps dans le noir. Quelque chose monte alors en moi que j’accueille par son nom, les yeux fermés : Bonjour Tristesse.”


Do you have any other suggestions of books in French? Leave us a comment!

44 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Σχόλια


bottom of page