Reading books in Portuguese can be a very effective way of learning the language, and having a Kindle makes it a lot easier to get your hands on Portuguese books – especially if you’re not in Portugal.
This article talks about both the Kindle e-Reader and also the Kindle app, which is available for Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, and computers. Although I prefer reading books in English on my Kindle as opposed to on my phone, I find the Kindle app for smartphones is much better for reading foreign language books.
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Using the Kindle app
If you don’t have a Kindle e-reader, you can either download the Kindle software to your computer or download the Kindle app to your phone. Of the two of these, downloading the app is definitely a better idea: sitting in front of a computer to read isn’t as pleasant as reading on your phone.
When you need to look up a word: highlight it and, as long as you’re connected to the internet, you’ll be able to translate it.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a feature to save the translation. You’ll have to click ‘copy’ to copy the word, then paste it into an app like Evernote or Gmail – whatever you use for taking notes – along with the English translation, which you’ll have to add manually.
Alternatively, you could take the old-fashioned approach and write the word and its translation in a notepad.
Readlang is probably my favourite app for reading books on my mobile phone. Once the book is uploaded to Readlang (that can be a little tricky depending on whether or not its DRM-protected) it’s really easy to use and, unlike the Kindle and the Pocketbook app, it doesn’t break your flow.
You can read more about Readlang (and LingQ, a similar app) here:
Using the Pocketbook app
As well as the Kindle app, there are all kinds of other ebook reader apps like Aldiko, FBReader, Moon_ Reader, etc. I’ve tried out most of them looking for an alternative to the Kindle app and the best one that I found is Pocketbook.
The app is far from what I’d ideally like, but it does work okay with the Google Translate app meaning that you can save translations that you look up. The only downside to this is that the ebook needs to be DRM-free in order to read it in an app like Pocketbook.
Using your Kindle
Like the Kindle app, the Kindle e-readers have an inbuilt translator (as long as you’re connected to the internet). You can use it to translate single words or even entire sentences.
Like the app, the Kindle e-reader doesn’t really an option to save a word. You can highlight a word and then go through your highlights later, but it will only save the Portuguese word and not the translation.
Accessing your highlights is also not the most user-friendly experience, although tools like Clippings.io definitely make the process a lot easier. Basically, it’s not ideal.
Again, the other option is to write the words down in a notepad. There are some downsides to this approach, but then there’s plenty of research to suggest that you’re more likely to remember words if you write them down rather than just saving them on your phone or computer.
What to do if you don’t have internet
If you want to read (and translate) books in Portuguese, even when you’re not near a wifi connection, you have a few options:
- If your phone has a mobile internet connection, you may find it easier to just read the book on the Kindle app rather than on your Kindle reader.
- You could also turn your phone into a wifi hotspot, connect your Kindle e-reader to that network, and get internet that way (it’s not as confusing as it sounds).
- Alternatively, you could download a Portuguese-English dictionary for your Kindle so that you can access a dictionary even when you don’t have internet. Note: with these dictionaries, you’ll only be able to look up one word at a time rather than an entire phrase or sentence.
If you do download a Portuguese-English dictionary, you may need to add it as a dictionary before you’ll be able to look up words. To do this, go to your settings (Click the menu and ‘Settings’) > Device Options > Language and Dictionaries and set it as a dictionary.
Finding Portuguese books to read
You wouldn’t expect buying books to be difficult, but actually finding Portuguese books for Kindle can be a little challenging.
On Amazon Brazil
If you go to Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk, the bestseller lists for books in Portuguese are a little uninspiring and have few reviews (and sometimes those lists are actually quite hard to find). A much better place to begin your search is the Brazilian version of Amazon: Amazon.com.br.
Note: Unless your Kindle is set to Brazil (and you can change this), you won’t be able to buy the books from Amazon Brazil. You’ll need to get the name of the book that you want to read, and then search for it on your Kindle or, if you prefer to search on Amazon, on the Amazon site where your Kindle is registered (.co.uk, .com, etc).
If you’re not sure which Amazon you need, just search on your Kindle (click the menu and then ‘Shop in Kindle Store.’)
Other book stores
Although you’ll normally need to buy your books from Amazon if you have a Kindle, you can use other book sites for inspiration.
Three Portuguese bookstores that will show you what’s available and popular in Portugal are:
The best types of books for learning Portuguese
Books that are translated from English into Portuguese are usually a little easier to read than books that were originally written in Portuguese. Search on Amazon Brazil for author names like J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, James Patterson, or Danielle Steel and you’ll get the titles of their books in Portuguese.
It’s also worth looking at chicklits or other “straight-to-Kindle” type books as they often have short sentences and simple paragraphs that make reading in a foreign language a lot easier.
Ultimately, though, the best book to read in Portuguese is something that you actually want to read. Reading children’s books, for example, may be easier but if it doesn’t interest you then it won’t be long before you find something in English that you’re more interested in.
Note: Ideally, if you’re learning Portuguese to live in Portugal, it would be better to find books that have been translated into European Portuguese. You’ll have a better chance of finding those books if you look on the Portuguese bookstores like Bertrand and Wook but, even then, you’ll still come across a lot of Brazilian Portuguese books.
Changing your Kindle country to Brazil
You may find that some of the books that you’re looking for are only available on Amazon Brazil. This isn’t just the case with books by Brazilian authors, but it’s often the case with books that have been translated into Portuguese.
If you’re going to be reading a lot of books in Portuguese, it may be easier to just change your Kindle country settings to Brazil.
You can do this by going to: Your Account > Content and Devices > Preferences
What to read next
- The big, main guide to learning Portuguese
- This guide to courses that cover European Portuguese
- This guide to learning Portuguese completely online