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French Essay On Advantages Of Reading Books

Below is my French reading list of books that I have personally read and recommend to my students.
If you are new to reading in French, I recommend you first check my “Reading French Books: Where to Start?” article.

I have rated the books in this  list by difficulty on a scale of 1 to 5 as follows:

  1. Beginner – ideal to start
  2. Intermediate – language/style is accessible and the book is short or clearly cut into parts/short stories.
  3. Intermediate Plus – language/style is moderately hard and the book is short or standard length.
  4. Advanced – language/expressions are more advanced and/or book is long.
  5. Very Advanced – the language and writing style are very elaborate (or in old French) and/or the book is exceptionally long.

You can sort the French reading list by difficulty, author, title, etc. and search for keywords.

View the book on Amazon by clicking on the title. Most links allow you to flip through the first few pages of the book, which is a great way for you to assess the level of French needed!
Please note that these are affiliate links: I will earn a small commission if you go to Amazon through this link. Same price for you, but a little tip for me! Thank you! 😉

Don’t hesitate to email me if you would like to publish a review of one the books in this French reading list, or if you would like to recommend a new book.

I will add new books to this list over time, so come back to check it out!

Bonne lecture! Happy reading!

DifficultyAuthorTitleGenre & keywordsStory & Comments
4Kahdra (Yasmina)L'attentatthriller
suspense
contemporary
intercultural
war
A doctor tries to understand and cope with the death of his wife in a suicide bombing in Tel-Aviv. You won't be able to put this book down once you start reading it!

A lot of vocabulary that you may not know (style is quite poetic and the author uses a wide range of words and expressions. This is a great opportunity to expand your vocab, through a truly fascinating read).
Grammar is simple (present tense, dialogues, etc)
2Ronis (Willy)Ce Jour-Làbiography
photography
art
description
non fiction
short stories
This is an autoportrait of famous photographer Willy Ronis through a range of his photos. Each photo comes with the description and the context, a memory of the day when it was taken.

Some vocab
Basic grammar tenses (present, passe compose, imparfait). The fact that the text is based on the pictures (description, context) supports the reading comprehension
4Pagnol (Marcel)La Gloire De Mon Père

La gloire de mon père (Audiobook PACK [Book + 4 CDs])
classic
Provence
biography
childhood
memories
This is the first part of world famous classic novel by Pagnol. His childhood memories will make you travel in time and in Provence.
4Pagnol (Marcel)Le Château de Ma Mère

Le château de ma mère (Audiobook PACK [Book + 4 CDs])
classic
Provence
biography
childhood
memories
This is the second part of Pagnol's childhood memories (after "La Gloire de mon Père"). It will make you travel in time and in Provence.
4Pagnol (Marcel)Jean De Floretteclassic
Provence
biography
tragedy
First part of a story of love, jealousy and revenge. A worldwide famous novel set in the Provence region which has become a classic.
4Pagnol (Marcel)Manon des Sourcesclassic
tragedy
Provence
The second part (after "Jean de Florette") of a story of love, jealousy and revenge. A worldwide famous novel set in the Provence region which has become a classic.
5GuduleAprès vous, M. de La Fontaine... (Contrefables)fables
classic
contemporary
short stories
old French
If you love "les fables de La Fontaine", you will love this small book!! Gudule has selected 20 of La Fontaine's most famous fables (which you can read in this edition)…and continues them to write a new ending (happier endings than the original version!). Very entertaining and full of wisdom!
4Nothomb (Amelie)Stupeur et tremblementsclassic
contemporary
intercultural
Japan
biography
satire
fiction
Funny and satirical, this novel based on the author's true life deals with the cultural differences and the hierarchy system in Japan, where Amelie worked for a year, starting at the bottom of the corporate ladder... Awarded Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française in 1999.
4Nothomb (Amelie)Ni d'Eve Ni d'Adam (French Edition)

Ni d'Eve ni d'Adam (Audiobook PACK [Book + 1 CD MP3])
contemporary
biography
satire
intercultural
Japan
Based on true events, this novel is linked to "Stupeur et Tremblements" but can very well be read separately. Follow Amelie's efforts in trying to reconnect with Japanese culture (she was born in Japan) when she comes back after growing overseas. Cultural misunderstandings and differences are tackled with a lot of humour and self-depreciation. Overall, it's a story of love and of coming-of-age.

Some vocab and expressions.
Some use of past historic (simply replace it with passé composé)
4Nothomb (Amelie)Cosmétique De L'Ennemicontemporary
dialogue
suspense
In the waiting room of an airport, a man come to another man and tells him that he knows that man has committed a murder. Very original, this novel is an excellent introduction to Nothomb's eccentric style. Written in the form of a dialogue, it is almost impossible to put down this book. The end will surprise you!
4Werber (Bernard)Les Fourmis
(Part 1)

Le Jour Des Fourmis
(Part 2)

La Révolution Des Fourmis
(Part 3)

La Trilogie Des Fourmis (includes the 3 novels mentioned above)
classic
contemporary
trilogy
thriller
fantasy
science-fiction
suspense
investigation
war
This trilogy put in parallel the world of humans and the world of ants, giving much food for thought and keeping you enthrilled because of the suspense/investigation background. Extremely well documented and scientifically based, the frontiers between fiction and true facts are blurred, which is an art Werber at.
3Werber (Bernard)Nos Amis les Humainscontemporary
philosophy
science-fiction
fantasy
dialogue
drama
Two human beings wake up in an invisible cage. They are the only two survivors of the human species: planet Earth has blown up, and an extraterrestrial vessel has taken them. The man and the woman are now debatting: should they reproduce? Does Humanity deserves to be saved? This is another thought-provoking signature novel by Werber exploring one of his favourite topics: what if we were just like ants and being watched by a superior, alien, species? This short book has been adapted into a play and a movie.
3Mérimée (Prosper)La Vénus d'Ille
(Free Kindle Edition)
classic
short story
fantasy
horror
crime
suspense
This short fiction is fantastic and a bit scary! A bronze Venus statue seems to be alive and commits murder… Written in the 1830's, this story will stll make you shiver.
4Schmitt (Eric-Emmanuel)La Part de l'Autrecontemporary
history
war
Germany
Hitler
biography
fiction
What if Adolf Hitler had been received in Art school instead of failing his entry exam? How would the world history have changed? This unique novel put two stories in parallel: the story of Hitler who became the dictator that everybody knows, and the story of Adolf H., his shy counterpart who has passed the exam.
3Schmitt (Eric-Emmanuel)Oscar Et La Dame Rosedrama
tragedy
letters
contemporary
hospital
These are the letters of Oscar, a terminally ill 10y.o child, addressed to God on the last 12 days of his life. Mamie Rose is an old lady volunteering to spend some time in the hospital ward. Her relationship with Oscar will be important in his short life.
3Levy (Marc)Et si c'était vrairomance
contemporary
fantasy
A love story with a woman in a deep coma… who appears to the man as a ghostly figure. Only he can see and touch her. This is the first novel of an extremely popular modern French writer.
3Levy (Marc)Sept Jours Pour Une EternitécontemporaryIn a fight between Good and Evil, God and Lucifer each sent an angel down to Earth to represent them and see who will win. But what happens when they start falling for each other?
2Saint-Exupéry (Antoine de)Le Petit Prince

The Little Prince (English and French Bilingual Edition)
classic
youth
tale
philosophy
Is it still necessary to present the most read and the most translated French book of the century? This beautiful tale will be interpreted on different levels by children and adults. A pilot standed in the desert after the crash of his plane meets a mysterious, little blond boy full of questions who comes from another planet. With original watercolour illustrations from the author, this novella full of poetry will make you laugh, cry and ponder. The more I read it, the more I learn from it.
4Vanier (Nicolas)L'Or Sous la Neigefiction
adventure
gold rush
history
contemporary
A fiction about the Alaska gold rush around 1897. Supported by real black & white photos, we're halfway between documentary and fiction. Feel the excitement of taking risks to go find gold. Feel the harshness of the living conditions and the disappointment. Go backinto time, fee closer to nature and become a gold prospector.
3Vanier (Nicolas)L'Enfant des Neigesjournal
diary
biography
adventure
contemporary
Nicolas Vanier is a famous French explorer who loves the poles and the cold. He's crossed Siberia, Alaska, etc with his dogs. This time, he embarks on a long journey with his wife and their 2y.o little girl. This book is the journal of their expedition and includes incredible photos.

Mostly use of the present tense.
Some specific vocab related to plants, vegetation, dog ushering)
2Gripari (Pierre)La Sorcière de la Rue Mouffetard et Autres Contes de la Rue Broca

La Sorciere de la Rue Mouffetard... (Audiobook PACK [Book + CD])
classic
youth literature
short stories
tale
These tales set in Paris have become a classic in youth literature. Discover the story of the little demon who wanted to be kind, of the witch who wanted to eat little girl Nadia seasoned with tomato sauce, of the pair of shoes that fell in love with each other, and many more!
2Gripari (Pierre)Le Gentil Petit Diable et Autres Contes de la Rue Brocaclassic
youth literature
short stories
tale
These tales set in Paris have become a classic in youth literature. Discover the story of the little demon who wanted to be kind, of the witch who wanted to eat little girl Nadia seasoned with tomato sauce, of the pair of shoes that fell in love with each other, and many more!
1HergéTintinclassic
comic
series
cartoon
adventure
youth
humour
World famous comics albums from Belgian cartoonist Hergé. Follow the adventures of reporter Tintin in many countries and even to the moon. Ideal to start reading in French.
2Goscinny & UderzoAstérixclassic
comic
series
cartoon
adventure
youth
humour
pun, play on words
This French&Belgian series follows the exploits of a village of indomitable Gauls as they resist Roman occupation. There are many puns/play on words in the albums (eg in the names of the characters), and many cultural and historical references that will add extra savour to your reading if you can identify them!
5MolièreLes Femmes Savantes
(Free Kindle Edition)

Les Femmes Savantes : The Learned Ladies (Bilingual Edition - French and English)
drama
romance
satire
classic
old French
This comedy by Moliere is a satire of preciousness, and stages a typical situation of reciprocal love that has to overcome an obstacle.

old French written in "alexandrins" (12 syllable verses), in rhymes
4Queneau (Raymond)Exercices De Style

Exercices de Style (Audiobook PACK [Book + 1 CD])
constrained writing
absurd
Fiction
A collection of 99 retellings of the same short story, each in a different style. Highy creative, sometimes funy, sometimes bizarre. You will learn a lot and may even want to try this creative writing yourself!
5MolièreLe Bourgeois Gentilhomme
(Free Kindle Edition)

Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (French & English Paragraph by Paragraph Translation)
classic
drama
comedy
satire
old French
In this comedy, Molière turns a bourgeois, Monsieur Jourdain, into ridicule for wanting to learn gentlemanly arts and wears clothing that would make him all look like an aristocrat. The play is a satire of snobbish aristocracy and vanity. It's very entertaining and we can still relate to it nowadays!
5Devos (Raymond)A plus d'un Titrecomedy
show
sketches
pun, play on words
humour
This book compiles a series of sketches by comedian Raymond Devos. The reason why it is recommended for advanced students is that each sketch is full of puns ; Devos is really creating art and humour out of his mastering of French language, and this is truly delectable to read once you have the keys.
4Gavalda (Anna)Ensemble, C'est Tout contemporary
Paris
friendship
feel good
This moving novel depicts the relationship between three friends, and their coping with everyday life. It has been made into a feel-good movie starring Audrey Tautou and Guillaume Canet, under the title "Hunting and Gathering" by Claude Berri.

Dialogues show oral French as it is really used. A few tricky words and slang expressions.
Some use of past historic (simply replace it with passé composé)
A balance between descriptive text and dialogues.
The book is quite thick: 575 pages.
2Comtesse de SégurLes Malheurs de Sophie
(Free Kindle Edition)
classic
youth literature
short stories
Every French child for generation has read "Les malheurs de Sophie" and this reading certainly always brings up some fond childhood memories. Sophie is a little girl who often disobeys orders and runs into trouble for her mischiefs. The only thing I don't enjoy that much from this classic is the punishments that she then has to face; but they are representative of an old-fashioned way of upbringing (after all, it was written in the 19th century).

The main difficulty lies in the vocab: some old professions, voc related to the country life (shepherding, etc)
Some past historic (simply replace it with passé composé)
3Schädlich (Hans Joachim)Le Coupeur De Motsyouth literature
contemporary
grammar
fantasy
Paul, a young school student, seals a pact with a strange man, the "coupeur de mots": in exchange for doing the homework for Paul, the young boy will give away his prepositions, verbs, etc. for him. What I love about this very original story is that is shows the importance of grammar: once he loses his tenses and prepositions, Paul becomes unintelligible for others and he's soon being mocked.

Although this book was written for children, its reading may be a little difficult for beginner students of French because of the tenses and structures used there.
5Rostand (Edmond de)Cyrano de Bergeracclassic
drama
tragedy
old French
Featuring the most famous long nose of history and literature, this tragedy fictionalises the life of real character "Cyrano de Bergerac", in love with Roxane. His lack of self-confidence because of this nose makes him believe he's unworthy of love.

Old French written in "alexandrins" (12 syllable verses), in rhymes
Specific vocabulary (eg.arts of fencing)
4Daudet (Alphonse)Lettres de Mon Moulinclassic
short stories
Provence
countryside
letters
A classic of French literature accessible to children, this collection of tales set in Provence (where the author grew up) presents characters that we still know about today. The most famous of them is probably Mr Seguin's brave little goat, whose thirst of freedom made her fight for her life against the wolf through a whole night.

The main difficulty lies in the vocab: some old professions, voc related to the country life (shepherding, etc)
Some past historic (simply replace it with passé composé)
5Dumas (Alexandre)Les Trois Mousquetairesclassic
historical novel
history
adventure
plot
Follow he adventures of D'Artagnan and his friends and team mates Athos, Porthos and Aramis as they thwart political plots against the King (the story is set in the 17th century, when France was divided between republican and monarchists). There's also romance in the air. A great piece of entertainment and literature.
4Leroux (Gaston)Le Mystère de la Chambre Jaune
(Free Kindle Edition)
classic
mystery
crime
fiction
detective
suspense
One of the first locked room mystery novels, this is a classic of French literature, which is not most known for its crime novels.

Some past historic (simply replace it with passé composé)
3Pennac (Daniel)Comme Un Romancontemporary
essay
education
teaching
As a former teacher of literature whose school years as a child have been difficult, Pennac questions in this essay the approach to books and literature in schools where students are forced to read books that are being imposed on them, for no other purpose than testing their comprehension. That kills the love of reading.
I'm a bookworm and used to read every book that fell into my hands from cover to cover. When I didn't like a book, I would still drag myself through it, feeling guilty about disrepecting the author if I didn't finish it. Since I've read "Comme un Roman", I feel that this has given me permission to let down and approach reading in a new way.
3Pennac (Daniel)Chagrin d'Ecole

Chagrin d'Ecole (Audiobook PACK [Book + 1 CD MP3])
essay
education
modern/contemporary
biography
teaching
education
Won the Prix Renaudot in 2007. In this autobiographical novel, Daniel Pennac, a former teacher of literature, questions the school system and put himself in the shoes of the "bad" student (which he used to be too). He becomes the spokeperson of these student's anxiety and painful years.
1PeyoLes Schtroumpfsclassic
comic
series
cartoon
youth
These albums from the Smurf series are a great activity for your French skills (in addition to entertaining you), so it's a great way to start: try to substitute every smurfy word with a proper French equivalent!
5Dumas (Alexandre)Le Comte de Monte-Cristo
(Free Kindle Edition)
classic
history
revenge
tragedy
plot
The highlight of my readings in 2014, an incredible masterpiece. The plot of treason and revenge that unfolds throughout this 1700-page novel is brilliantly designed, and so is the portraying of the characters and their relationships. There are many characters that give real depth to this novel that I had to find and print a chart from the internet to refer to it.
4Jacq (Christian)Ramsès (series of 5 books)

Le Fils de la Lumière (Ramsès, part 1)

Le Temple des Millions d'Années (Ramsès; part 2)

La Bataille de Kadesh (Ramsès, part 3)

La Dame D'Abou Simbel (Ramsès, part 4)

Sous L'Acacia d'Occident (Ramsès, part 5)
history
Egypt
pharaoh
Christian Jacq is an Egyptologist who wrote many novels and essays, especially about Ancient Egypt. I haven't read them all (yet!), but I can highly recommend the series of 5 novels about pharao Ramses 2 ; the books should be read in order, as they are a biography of one of the most famous pharaos. You will dive into a fascinating and of history and civilisation. It's very well written and you will easily picture the story in your mind as if you were watching a movie.
2Sempé & GoscinnyLe Petit Nicolasyouth
classic
short stories
slang
dialogues
childhood
memories
school
humour
A classic in children's literature, these humourous short stories are perfect for intermediate students of French. Set in the 1950s, they narrate slices of childhood of Nicolas, a young schoolboy (adults are ununderstanding, mysterious people and school is only fun for the recess time with friends) . The books are told from the point of view of Nicolas himself, which gives a simplistic, fresh view of the world.

Everyday life situation, familiar vocab. Some kid's slang and dialogues.
2Sempé & GoscinnyLe Petit Nicolas et les Copainsyouth
classic
short stories
slang
dialogues
childhood
memories
school
humour
A classic in children's literature, these humourous short stories are perfect for intermediate students of French. Set in the 1950s, they narrate slices of childhood of Nicolas, a young schoolboy (adults are ununderstanding, mysterious people and school is only fun for the recess time with friends) . The books are told from the point of view of Nicolas himself, which gives a simplistic, fresh view of the world.

Everyday life situation, familiar vocab. Some kid's slang and dialogues.
1Krings (Antoon)Drôles de Bêtes
Drôles de Bêtes (with audio CD)
youth, cartoon, childrenA series of books for 2 to 6 year old children between 2 and 6 year old. This collection of stories/tales has become a classic in youth literature and tells the adventures of cute animals such as: Belle la Coccinelle, Siméon le Papillon, Camille la Chenille, Lulu la Tortue, etc.
2Sempé & GoscinnyLes Vacances du Petit Nicolasyouth
classic
short stories
slang
dialogues
childhood
memories
school
humour
A classic in children's literature, these humourous short stories are perfect for intermediate students of French. Set in the 1950s, they narrate slices of childhood of Nicolas, a young schoolboy (adults are ununderstanding, mysterious people and school is only fun for the recess time with friends) . The books are told from the point of view of Nicolas himself, which gives a simplistic, fresh view of the world.

Everyday life situation, familiar vocab. Some kid's slang and dialogues.

New technology

Here’s what your friend Louis has written about:

  • the technology he uses
  • his opinion on internet shopping
  • whether he prefers downloading music or buying CDs
  • what technology he used yesterday
  • the advantages and disadvantages of the internet

Salut Liam,

Moi, je ne peux pas vivre sans mon portable parce que je l’utilise pour tout. On peut prendre des photos, vérifier ses courriers électroniques, lire les journaux et faire des achats. La musique, c’est ma passion, donc j’utilise mon portable pour télécharger et pour écouter de la musique. J’envoie des textos à mes copains pour rester en contact avec eux et j’appelle mes parents de temps en temps si je vais rentrer tard chez moi.

Je pense qu’internet est très pratique. Par exemple, on peut l’utiliser pour faire des achats en ligne. Moi, j’achète des vêtements, des cadeaux et des CD sur le net. J’adore faire du shopping en ligne parce que c’est moins cher et on peut faire des achats même si les magasins sont fermés.

En ce qui me concerne, télécharger de la musique est plus pratique que d’acheter des CD. Généralement, je télécharge un album par semaine et je pense que c’est plus facile que d’aller dans les magasins pour acheter un CD. Par contre, j’aime écouter des CD en rangeant ma chambre ou en faisant la vaisselle, alors de temps en temps, j’achète un CD.

Hier, je suis resté à la maison et j’ai voulu regarder un film, donc j’ai téléchargé un film d’horreur et je l’ai regardé sur ma tablette. Après avoir regardé le film, j’ai lu les blogs de mes amis pour me tenir au courant de leur vie et j’ai posté des photos sur des réseaux sociaux. Le soir, j’ai envoyé des textos à mes copains.

D’un côté, internet a beaucoup d’avantages, mais de l’autre, il y a plusieurs inconvénients. Internet est utile et pratique parce qu’on peut faire ce qu’on veut en un seul clic. En revanche, sur internet, il y a des inconnus avec qui on peut parler et ça peut être dangereux, surtout pour les jeunes.

Tu utilises beaucoup internet ? Qu’est-ce que tu as acheté sur internet dernièrement ?

À bientôt,

Louis.

Translation

Hi Liam,

I can’t live without my mobile phone because I use it for everything. You can take photos, check emails, read newspapers and buy things. Music is my passion therefore I use my phone to download and listen to music. I send texts to my friends to stay in contact with them and I call my parents from time to time, if I am going to be late home.

I think that the internet is very convenient. For example, you can use it to buy things online. I buy clothes, presents and CDs on the internet. I love shopping online because it’s less expensive and you can buy things even if the shops are closed.

As far as I’m concerned, downloading music is more practical than buying CDs. Normally I download one album per week and I think that it’s easier than going to the shops to buy a CD. However, I like to listen to CDs whilst tidying my room or doing the washing up so from time to time I buy a CD.

Yesterday, I stayed at home and I wanted to watch a film so I downloaded a horror film and I watched it on my tablet. After watching the film, I read my friends’ blogs to keep up-to-date with their life and I posted some photos on social networks. In the evening I sent text messages to my friends.

On the one hand the internet has lots of advantages, but on the other hand there are several disadvantages. The internet is useful and convenient because you can do what you want with just one click. On the other hand, on the internet there are lots of people you don’t know that you can talk to and that can be dangerous especially for young people.

Do you use the internet a lot? What have you bought on the internet recently?

See you soon,

Louis