If you’re reading this page, you’re interested in learning Mandarin Chinese. Or you’re already learning and just need another resource to help you improve. Learning Chinese gives you global opportunities, and being able to understand and communicate with people in China makes life easier. We have gathered the Best Chinese Books to learn Mandarin Chinese for beginners, intermediate and advanced students, inside and outside of China.
I’ve made a list of quick video book reviews to help you narrow your choices and focus on the best books in the industry! Do you have any books that you want me to review? Message me here and I’ll add it to the list!
Best Chinese Books for Self Study
Living Language Mandarin Chinese
Pros: If you’re looking to self-study this book is for you. Don’t let the size of it put you off. It walks you through essential, intermediate and advanced Chinese with complimentary audio and a character guide.
Cons: Again, this audio comes on a CD. That might be an issue. Unless you want to revive your grandmas stereo player.
Bottom line: This four-volume monstrosity is incredibly thorough, well presented and ideal for self-study. The character guide is impeccable, detailing stroke order and this textbook even comes complete with extra writing paper to practice your handwriting. Well worth your money.
We really like it. Head over to Amazon to read their reviews and pick yourself up a copy.
Get Talking Chinese
Pros: Pictures, phrases, grammar, vocabulary, characters, audio CD, and more. Everything inside this book is pure, pretty gold. They only teach you the useful day-to-day language you need to know in China. My new favorite!!
Cons: Does this eye-candy have any drawbacks? Because I can’t find any flaws, every chapter is packed with useful information.
Bottom line: Let’s call this a phrase book plus. I haven’t felt as excited about a book since Integrated Chinese and you guys know that is my all time favorite book.
Head over to Amazon to snap us this gem. Remember if you’re in the UK store it’s called Easy Peasy Chinese.
Best Chinese Textbooks
Integrated Chinese Level One Textbook
Pros: The dialogue is current, modern and attractive to look at – like a magazine. It’s in color! The design and culture aspects are supported by a cohesive learning system to enhance your Chinese listening, reading and speaking skills.
Cons: It’s not cheap. Because this series is heavily used in USA high schools and universities, the workbook answers aren’t available to the public. (You have to have teacher credentials to access them.)
Bottom Line: Integrated Chinese has it all – even audio. If you’re going to China and plan on studying on your own, get this book and find a tutor when you land. There is no better textbook than Integrated Chinese.
Still not sure? You should read the verified purchase reviews from other students on Amazon!
New Practical Chinese Reader
Pros: This book has the largest section devoted to pronunciation and phonics of any textbook I’ve reviewed, gives plenty of workbook simulated exercises, and also includes audio.
Cons: You can get this book in China however it comes without English descriptions, which might complicate things if you’re a super beginner.
Bottom line: A contender to Integrated Chinese. The series was published by Beijing Language And Culture University Press and theoretically has higher HSK alignment.
Can this book dethrone the King? Grab yourself a copy on Amazon and find out.
Best Books to Learn Chinese Characters
Tuttle Learning Chinese Characters
Pros: Learning Chinese characters is not straight science. But, this book structures the characters efficiently alongside enjoyable stories to help you remember them.
Cons: I can’t stress enough how important audio is when learning Chinese, those tones are tricky. Again, this book lacks an audio component.
Bottom line: For
Need this book in your life? Amazon stocks it and they ship worldwide. Pick yourself up a copy here.
Tuttle Chinese Flashcards Volume One
Pros: The audio CD files are available on Tuttle’s website. Volume 1 aligns with HSK 1 & 2 vocabulary, so you’re covered if you want to take that exam.
Cons: Are they as convenient as a flashcard app? Maybe not. But, you’ll get distracted using an app on your phone unless you’re super ninja and turn off all your notifications – like me.
Bottom line: I appreciate tangible learning materials so much. Yes, you can get free flashcard apps on your phone, but you’ll probably learn more with fewer distractions – old-school flashcards for the win!
Get Tuttle Flashcards delivered to your door when ordering off Amazon.
Pros: It covers a lot of ground with new characters, culture, and expertly underpins language learning with visual cues. Teaches characters in a visually appealing way.
Cons: Some of the characters are in traditional Chinese so it’s less practical to learn if you’re in Mainland China.
Bottom line: This book is captivatingly pretty and good for learning characters while keep your motivation high! The author is Taiwanese so be aware that some characters are in traditional Chinese.
Head over to Amazon to read reviews from genuine people like you!
Affiliate link disclaimer: If you purchase any of these books through the links found on this page a teeny bit of the cost helps me pay my bills and continue to provide you with valuable content. Hope that’s cool.
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