So here you are, fully intent on learning Norwegian.
Maybe you wish to dive deeper into the intricacies of the Norwegian language. Or you'd like to have some additional material to accompany your Norwegian learning process.
This is why I have compiled the following list of books to learn Norwegian.
Whatever type of Norwegian language learner you are, I hope this list will be helpful in setting you off on to the path to become fluent in Norwegian.
Now let’s get started on your journey into the best books to learn Norwegian.
If you'd like to jump to a particular section of the post, you can do so with this handy table of contents below.
Table of Contents
Norwegian Fiction And Parallel-Texts
There’s no better or more entertaining way to delve into another culture than experiencing it by reading books in the language. That's one of the reasons why I created the StoryLearning method.
Norwegian fiction can quick give you a feel for the language, enhance your comprehension skills and show you how sentences in the language are structured.
Often it doesn't matter if you don’t understand every single word because the progress of a story will give you context.
And if you follow the rules of StoryLearning, you'll quickly find your vocabulary increasing without you even noticing.
As a beginner in Norwegian, you might think it a bit far-fetched to try to read an entire fiction book. But here are a few titles aimed at especially those readers who are new to the Norwegian language.
1. Short Stories In Norwegian For Beginners By Olly Richards
Whether it’s crime or science fiction, fantasy or history, my collection of 8 short stories in Norwegian should suit anyone at the beginning of their journey to learn Norwegian.
You can read one story at a time and subsequently test your comprehension level by answering the following questions.
To ease you into the language, I make exclusive use of the 1000 most common words in Norwegian and you'll also find a glossary and a translation list in the book.
The book works best with the supplementary audio which tells you how the text is pronounced.
2. The Mystery Of Nils By Werner Skalla
For Norwegian beginners, the Mystery of Nils can represent a very satisfying journey.
By the end of this textbook, you'll realise that you've actually read an entire novel.
The story about a magical doll and its owner on their journey to Northern Norway is told with only the most common used words in the Norwegian vocabulary.
Apart from the entertaining story, the The Mystery of Nils also contains separate texts and exercises with regard to Norwegian grammar and language fluency.
It also offers a supplementary audio which can be downloaded from the book’s homepage.
By the way: the follow-up for intermediate readers to the book is called intriguingly Mysteriet om Nils – which is the exact Norwegian translation of the English title, The Mystery of Nils, to show that readers need some knowledge of Norwegian.
3. Nelsbok’s Norwegian-English Fiction Books
What once started as a labour of love at the kitchen table by an American academic with a keen interest to spread Norwegian literature to the world has quickly become a much-admired international adventure for those who want to know more about life and culture in Norway.
Translator James P. Jensen has taken two popular Norwegian novels outside the Nordic Noir-hype and translated them in his own time into English.
After not being able to find a publisher in the US or UK, he released both books by self-publishing them with parallel Norwegian-English texts.
The English parallel text in both books is arranged by using the column-reference format instead of the more traditional opposing page style.
4. Learn Norwegian – Parallel Text – Easy Stories By Polyglot Planet Publishing
Maybe not as exciting as the fiction stories above but with the advantage of coming absolutely free are the short stories about travellers in foreign parts.
Polyglot Planet Publishing has made their Norwegian-English parallel texts available as a PDF download.
And the easy to follow storylines tell of various people experiencing a new culture in a place they’ve never been before.
The texts can be read online or be downloaded as a PDF.
The stories might read a bit unnatural in places, even in the English version, but the texts are faithful to the original and give a true picture of a word-by-word translation.
Grammar Books For Norwegian Beginner Learners
Grammar is not for the fainthearted at the best of times. Often, it’s not only the thought of rules and their exceptions that put the fear of God in us. It’s the entire terminology that comes under the umbrella term of grammar.
On many occasions you might ask yourself questions like “What is a preposition again?” or “How does inflection actually work?“
The following books aim to help you on your way when it comes to figuring out the various Norwegian grammar rules and their traps.
5. Norwegian: A Comprehensive Grammar By Philip Holmes And Hans-Olav Enger
I'm starting off with the tome of knowledge concerning anything in connection with the Norwegian language.
Written by two professors in Scandinavian studies – one in the UK, the other in Norway – this textbook is aimed at beginners, intermediates and up till students in their final year alike.
It's also quite pricey and if you're only interested in learning Norwegian as a hobby, you probably want to think twice.
For serious students of the Norwegian language Norwegian: A Comprehensive Grammar contains everything you'd ever want to know about the finer details of the Norwegian language, down to the most unusual exceptions within linguistics and punctuation.
6. Norwegian Verbs And Essentials Of Grammar: A Practical Guide to the Mastery Of Norwegian By Louis Janus
At only 156 pages, this little textbook lies at exactly the opposite end of the spectrum of Norwegian: A Comprehensive Grammar and might seem rather on the short side.
It does, however, contain all the essentials you need to know about Norwegian grammar.
It's aimed at those who can’t be bothered to read lengthy explanations about why things in the Norwegian language are the way they are, but rather want to be hit with the hard facts.
Norwegian Verbs and Essentials of Grammar represents more of a quick reference when you are stuck on a sentence and need to look up the rules in order to progress.
It also gives a brief rundown of the regular and irregular verbs in the Norwegian language.
The author, Louis Janus, is an American professor of the Norwegian language at the University of Minnesota and participates in various research projects about how humans acquire a foreign language.
7. Norwegian Beginner Episodes & Basic Grammar: Companion To The Practice Norwegian Podcast By Eric Holmes & Knut-Arne Haraldsen
Once you’ve started to learn Norwegian and have a basic understanding of the first few phrases in the Norwegian language, you might wonder, how the words sound like when spoken by ‘real’ Norwegians.
While not a language course in itself, the podcast aims to support those who have started a Norwegian course through additional dialogues, phrase repetitions and exercises and explains how these fit into the grammar rules.
The individual podcasts are never longer than half an hour and can easily be fitted in to the everyday life of anyone who wants to know a little bit more of how Norwegian sounds like.
8. Norwegian Tutor: Grammar And Vocabulary Workbook By Guy Puzey & Elettra Carbone
We all learn languages differently and while some dread the school bench approach, others prefer a structured approach to their language learning.
The Norwegian Tutor: Grammar and Vocabulary Workbook might seem a bit on the dry side. But it's one of the best resources to put what you have learned to the test.
The textbook consists of various grammatical exercises and while you are performing them, you will soon realize that it will help you to understand the rules as well as the exceptions better.
For this very reason, the Norwegian Tutor: Grammar and Vocabulary Workbook is among the favourites in institutional learning environments and the most common preparation tool for exams.
9. Colloquial Norwegian (Colloquial Series) By Margaret Hayford O'Leary
Norwegian Bokmål is a still a relatively new language and in constant change.
In Norwegian households and on the streets new ways of speaking Norwegian are quickly developed.
If your main purpose in learning Norwegian is to talk like a local, Colloquial Norwegian in the Routledge Colloquial Series will be the right choice.
While the book is advertised as a course for self-study, it lacks many of the finer details of grammar and pronunciation most other workbooks have.
The focus on spoken language, however, gives a good insight into spoken Norwegian.
The publishers also offer some brief audio files to accompany the exercises in the book.
Phrase Books In Norwegian
With a wide choice of translation apps, we have got used to our mobile phones – which often have a life of their own and a tendency to fail us when we most need them.
Whether it’s lack of battery power or, as is common in the remote mountainous regions in Norway, the non-existence of reception, it’s always good to have a back-up in the shape of a good old-fashioned phrase book in your pocket.
Two of the best are:
10. Say It in Norwegian By Dover
Published consecutively since 1957, obviously with frequent updates, Say It In Norwegian is the true classic in Norwegian phrase books.
The handy pocket size edition (13 cm x 8 cm x 0.75 cm) still manages to include almost 2.000 entries on 86 pages about anything from asking your way to the powdering room to ordering from the menu.
It’s also helpful when you try to discern left from right as well as colours, sizes and numbers – or just try to figure out what’s on your plate in a Norwegian restaurant.
The organization of the Say It in… series has set a standard for phrase books and all entries are numbered for reference and come with a phonetic pronunciation guide.
It’s pretty cheap, too and a good insurance policy should you on the odd occasion meet one of the 5 % Norwegians who don't speak English.
11. Lonely Planet Fast Talk Norwegian 1 By Daniel Cash, Sarah Corbisier, Runa Eilertsen & Doekes Lulofs
The tourist guides by Lonely Planet are fairly well-known by travellers worldwide.
From the same publisher comes a series of phrase books in most of the world’s languages, among others also Norwegian.
Lonely Planet phrasebooks, though quite comprehensive and well-designed, are in principle aimed at tourists.
The size (15 cm x 9 cm x 0.60 cm) is slightly larger than Dover’s Say it in Norwegian and the book fits into most jacket pockets and won’t take up much space in backpacks.
However, Lonely Planet Fast Talk Norwegian 1 is not overly comprehensive for conversations starters outside the tourism sector.
The phrase book can help to book a table or hotel room and to ask for directions – accompanied with an easy-to-use pronunciation guide – while ‘expert tips’ aim to boost your confidence.
Puzzle And Games Books In Norwegian
Playful souls will hopefully come into their own by looking at my small selection of books that aim to support your learning of Norwegian with games, puzzles and trivia.
12. 100 Norwegian/English Vocabulary Puzzles: Learn Norwegian by Doing Fun Puzzles!
Learning Norwegian should be fun. The publishers of this book with 100 word games, including wordsearches, basic crosswords and other games think so, too.
While fun and games might not give you an impression of sentences structures, grammar or pronunciation, the puzzles aim to increase your awareness of spelling, word recognition and memory.
It’s also a nice way to take a break during the day and still continue to learn Norwegian without even being aware you're in learning mode.
13. Parleremo Languages Word Scramble Puzzles Norwegian – Volume 1 By Erik Zidowecki
Fans of Scrabble and word scramble games will come into their own with this collection of word scrambles in Norwegian.
In 144 different puzzles spread over 12 categories, readers can put together mixed letters into Norwegian words.
Hints and solutions are also provided at the end of the book.
The games in Languages Word Scramble Puzzles Norwegian – Volume 1 are developed by the founder of the Parleremo language learning community and aim to support anyone who is in the process of learning a language, never mind with what course.
The content goes a bit further than the regular tourist vocabulary offered in phrase and games books and also includes categories from everyday life and even body parts.
While language is important, there are also other factors to consider when you start delving into Norwegian.
Every culture has its own customs, manners and often complicated behavioural codes that language alone can't unscramble.
This is especially the case when you only just have started with learning Norwegian and have enough to do with focusing on the vocabulary and grammar.
The following book, however, should give you an introduction on ‘how things are done in Norway’.
14. Norway – Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide To Customs & Culture By Linda March & Margo Meyer
Neither grammar nor phrase nor fiction book, this textbook about Norwegian ‘unwritten’ rules might still be an essential guide to those who want to:
- move to Norway
- marry into a Norwegian family
- or simply aim to do business with Norwegians.
The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture is written by two US ex-pats who live and work in Norway.
They know first-hand how difficult it can be to understand the sometimes barely noticeable signs of what is expected of anyone joining a Norwegian team or group for business or personal reasons.
The book covers everything from the first Takk for Maten (Thank you for the meal) commandment to more intricate commercial dealings with people who aren't always easy to read and not too keen on compromises – but still remain among the world champions in throwing a good party!
Books To Learn Norwegian
So there you have it. 14 books to learn Norwegian, whether it's the grammar and intricacies of the Norwegian language and one that tells you how you use what you’ve learned without putting your foot in it.
If this is still not enough, you can easily create your own parallel text by using the English and Norwegian language classics of the most famous Norwegian writer of all time.
Roald Dahl’s entire canon is available in English as well as in Norwegian from the publisher Gyldendal and you finally can find out how classic quotes sound like in the author’s second mother tongue Norwegian.
There are also heaps of Norwegian books in English translation available and you easily can order your favourite Nordic Noir in both languages!