One of the strongest and most effective ways to improve your knowledge of Latin is through reading books to learn Latin.
This can be reading ancient Romans, such as Cicero, Caesar, and others, but it can also be from short stories and novellas written for contemporary audiences and Latin learners.
While Latin may no longer be spoken, its literature is in no way dead. Continue reading to find 10 of the best books to help you learn and improve on your Latin.
By the way, if you want to learn Latin fast and have fun while doing it, my top recommendation is Latin Uncovered which teaches you through StoryLearning®.
With Latin Uncovered you’ll use my unique StoryLearning® method to learn Latin naturally through story… not rules. It’s as fun as it is effective.
If you’re ready to get started, click here for a 7-day FREE trial.
Books To Learn Latin: Textbooks
1. Ecce Romani, Vol 1
Ecce Romani is one of the most popular books for middle and high school level Latin classes.
This textbook series allows for a friendlier and less grammar-heavy approach to learning Latin.
With that in mind, this would certainly not be a textbook for a college-level course.
Ecce Romani is engaging for younger students, who follow the storyline of the Cornelian family that travels from the Italian countryside into Rome. Along the way you learn and experience aspects of Roman life through the eyes of this family.
Each chapter beings with a story with accompanying necessary vocabulary and Latin comprehension questions. In addition, there are activities and bonus materials. For example, you'll find word studies to practice Latin roots and English cognates, history, mythology, and life in Rome.
This is a popular textbook as it is engaging and keeps students interested in the story and learning Latin.
2. Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata, Pars I: Familia Romana
Similar to Ecce Romani, Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata seeks to use a non-traditional method to learn Latin.
Lingua Latina utilizes methods that are more natural in terms of language acquisition, seeking to have the learner think in the Latin language. And not think in terms of translating from Latin to English.
In Lingua Latina, you learn the language, vocabulary, and grammar from readings that are placed in certain contexts that make it easier for you to learn Latin.
This series of books also emphasises the ability to learn and use conversational Latin skills, which is fairly uncommon among Latin textbooks.
This textbook series similarly describes the life of a Roman family set in the 2nd century CE in the Roman empire. Many of the stories are newly created for the textbook. But many are from Roman authors and poets in abridged Latin.
Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata has companion volumes with additional readings and grammar exercises. Once you finish this volume, you can easily continue on with another!
3. Latin Via Ovid
The final textbook is Latin Via Ovid, which is an introductory level textbook based on excerpts from the Roman poet, Ovid. The passages increase in their difficulty as you continue through the textbook.
The book’s content is scaffolded throughout and each chapter contains a reading with necessary vocabulary, grammar, as well as grammar and vocabulary practice and vocabulary etymology information. This helps you to learn the associated grammar and vocabulary to expand your Latin knowledge.
Like many of these books, the textbook Latin Via Ovid focuses on using real Latin authors to build and cement your knowledge of Latin. Like Lingua Latin there are different companion materials available as you progress in your Latin education.
Books To Learn Latin: Latin Readers
4. Oxford Classical Reader
The Oxford Classical Reader utilizes both modern and traditional Latin learning methods. Like many Latin readers, the Oxford reader uses reading as a way to learn and strengthen knowledge of the Latin language.
The Oxford Classical Reader follows the main life of Horace, the Roman poet of the 1st century BCE. The reader looks at both his life and the important historical events that happened throughout his lifetime in Rome.
Each chapter contains the chapter’s reading in Latin from Roman authors, the necessary vocabulary, comprehension questions in Latin, additional readings with English content questions.
The final section ends with the history and culture that relates to that chapter's content and theme.
Rather than focusing on grammar in the chapters with instruction and exercises, the Oxford Classical Reader places the grammar and exercises in the back.
The grammar does not serve as the backbone of this reader but is instead supplemental if necessary. This is great if you find grammar complicated or in the way of learning languages.
This reader contains excerpts from Caesar, Cicero, Catullus, Virgil, Livy, and Ovid.
5. Loeb Classical Library Reader
The Loeb Classical Library Reader is a reader that is good for people who have a solid grasp of Latin. If you are just starting out learning the language, this is not a great starting point.
The Loeb reader is a sample of the larger collection of the Loeb Classical Library. It has a broad range of Latin works from about 12 centuries of authors writing in Latin.
As a result of this broad range of works, the difficulty also ranges throughout the reader.
Like other volumes in the Loeb Classical Library, this reader has the page on the left with the Latin text and on the right page is the English translation.
The Loeb reader does not focus on grammar and does not have a grammar or vocabulary section. This is partially what makes this reader less friendly for newer Latin learners.
A fun consideration is that the Loeb Classical Library Reader also contains works in Ancient Greek. If you are also looking to explore other ancient Mediterranean languages or already know some Ancient Greek, this would be a great option for you.
6. Ad Alpes
Similar to Ecce Romani and Lingua Latina, Ad Alpes uses a narrative structure to help you practice reeling Latin. Overall, the main narrative follows the journey of a Roman family.
What it has in common with the other readers, is the fact that there are many short stories and passages from Roman authors. This increases your practice with “real” Latin.
As a reader, Ad Alpes focuses on building and cementing your knowledge of the Latin language through extensive reading practice.
Ad Alpes does not have grammatical information or exercises to practice but instead allows for focusing on reading and translation.
This allows for you to improve on your vocabulary knowledge and exposure as well as your understanding and application of more difficult grammatical concepts.
Rather than isolating the vocabulary and grammar in exercises, you will be able to see them in real-world applications and wider contexts.
Books To Learn Latin: Myths And Novellas
7. Fabulae Syrae
Advertised as one of the many companion books of Lingua Latina, Fabulae Syrae is a set of 50 ancient myths written in Latin.
Rather than a selected reading with accompanying grammar, vocab, and exercises, Fabulae Syrae allows for you to apply your existing Latin knowledge to reading.
While practice in your Latin reading ability, you can also learn about many different ancient myths from Ancient Rome and Greece. The stories are adapted from real Latin stories.
Since it is a companion to the Lingua Latina series, it is likely you will want some knowledge of Latin already. This can range from introductory Latin to intermediate-level Latin.
8. Fabulae Gallicae
Similar to Fabulae Syrae, Fabulae Gallicae is a set of fairy tales written in Latin. Where it differs is that these fairy tales are based on the late 1600s fairy tales, which you probably already recognize.
The stories in Fabulae Gallicae are not adapted from actual Latin authors, but the likelihood of your familiarity with the stories is a huge benefit.
You can practice your ability to read and understand Latin, but also be able to fill in grammar and vocabulary you don’t know based on the context of the stories.
Keep in mind, these are not just carbon copies of typical Disney fairy tales and their endings. You will often end up with an ending that you do not recognize, making the stories new and interesting.
9. Pugio Bruti
Pugio Bruti is an interesting and very different type of book to learn and practice Latin.
This is a novella that was written in Classical Latin, set in Ancient Rome but written with a modern audience in mind. Pugio Bruti is a crime story that is set in the early Roman empire.
Since there is no grammar or vocabulary assistance, this novella is recommended for an intermediate-level Latin reader.
This way you can enjoy the interesting story that unfolds in Pugio Bruti. Any fans of crime novels and Latin, this is a case of the best of both worlds.
10. Fortuna Fortibus Favet: Viae Variae Patent
Finally, probably the most interesting out of this list is Fortuna Fortibus Favet, a choose your own adventure story.
You are a teenage girl, Antonia, and with your brother, Crispus, in Pompeii on the day of Vesuvius’ eruption. You need to make choices throughout the book to get you and your brother out alive.
Along the way, you will meet numerous historical figures and learn about the history of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.
This book is recommended for intermediate-level Latin readers and higher due to the lack of grammar and vocabulary assistance.
If you're at this level of Latin knowledge, you will get endless joy out of practicing your Latin because you will not be reading the same book twice based on your choices.
Books To Learn Latin
One of the biggest reasons to learn Latin is being able to read works from authors from all the way back in Ancient Rome.
As any language learner can attest to, things get lost in translations. Reading in any language, especially with dead languages like Latin, you will notice impressive gains in your language abilities. That's why reading stories is at the heart of the StoryLearning® method.
You will be able to easily read sentences and understand complex grammar that previously had seemed insurmountable. Grab one of these books and allow your Latin knowledge to grow!