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Best Russian Books

Delve into the rich tapestry of Russian literature with the most acclaimed books as chosen by leading literary blogs and publications. Ranked by the frequency of their recommendations, these tomes are a testament to the masterful storytelling and cultural depth that characterize Russian writing.

Recommendations from 16 articles, J. K. Rowling, PewDiePie, Jennifer Lawrence and 32 others.
17 books on the list
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War and Peace book cover
War and Peace
Leo Tolstoy - 1998-06-25 (first published in 1867)
Goodreads Rating
This epic historical novel, set in 19th-century Russia, follows the lives of three young people - Pierre, Andrey, and Natasha - as they navigate love and loss against the backdrop of Napoleon's invasion. From aristocrats to peasants, soldiers to Napoleon himself, War and Peace weaves together a vivid tapestry of human life. Tolstoy expertly tackles themes of conflict, free will, and faith, crafting a magnificent tale of imperfection and grandeur. This beautiful, clothbound Penguin Classics edition features a superb translation by Anthony Briggs and an afterword by Orlando Figes, providing readers with a truly unforgettable reading experience.
The Master and Margarita book cover
The Master and Margarita
Mikhail Bulgakov - 1996-03-01 (first published in 1967)
Goodreads Rating
A masterpiece that defies comparison, The Master and Margarita is a crowning achievement that skillfully weaves together magical and realistic elements, ethical concerns, and grotesque situations. Set during Stalin's reign, this devastating satire of Soviet life is divided into two distinct parts, each filled with fascinating characters and historical, imaginary, frightful, and wonderful events. This complete and unabridged translation is a must-read for anyone seeking artistic and spiritual freedom.
Fathers and Sons book cover
Fathers and Sons
Ivan Turgenev - 2005-02-01 (first published in 1862)
Goodreads Rating
Fathers and Sons is a stirring tale set in Russia during the 1860s, amidst the liberation of the serfs. The story follows the generational conflict between older aristocrats and the new democratic intelligentsia, and vividly depicts the friction between liberal and conservative thought. It introduces the radical new philosophy of nihilism and follows the journey of two young friends, Arkady and Bazarov, who venture off to the provincial capital in search of amusement. This affordable masterpiece offers readers the opportunity to savor a timeless work of world literature.
Crime and Punishment book cover
Crime and Punishment
Fyodor Dostoevsky - 2002-12-31 (first published in 1866)
Goodreads Rating
A destitute former student commits a random murder in St. Petersburg and believes he is a great man acting beyond moral law. As he plays a dangerous game with police, his conscience grows louder and guilt tightens around his neck. Only a downtrodden prostitute can offer him redemption.
Anna Karenina book cover
Anna Karenina
Leo Tolstoy - 2012-10-16 (first published in 1878)
Goodreads Rating
A timeless classic, Anna Karenina is a captivating novel that covers themes of love, family, and society in nineteenth-century Russia. Written by Leo Tolstoy and hailed by famous authors such as Dostoyevsky, Nabokov, and Faulkner, the novel tells the story of a woman torn between her passion for a man who is not her husband and her desire to maintain social expectations. Tolstoy's unrivaled prose and attention to detail make this novel a must-read for lovers of literary fiction.
Dead Souls book cover
Dead Souls
Nikolai Gogol - 2004-12-28 (first published in 1842)
Goodreads Rating
In Dead Souls, explore provincial Russian life through the wily antihero Chichikov as he deals in "dead souls"-- serfs who still represent money. This novel serves as a satire of imperial Russian venality and vulgarity, providing a Dickensian cast of characters that are both funny and endearing. With a lively translation by award-winning translators, experience the full extent of this novel's humor and delight in human oddity and error.
Eugene Onegin book cover
Eugene Onegin
A Novel in Verse (Oxford World's Classics)
Alexander Pushkin - 1998-10-22 (first published in 1825)
Goodreads Rating
Immerse yourself in imperial Russia with this poetic masterpiece that follows the intertwined destinies of three men and three women. Eugene Onegin showcases a wide range of characters, literary and philosophical digressions, and a highly satirical tone that blends suspense and wit. This new translation captures the original work's poetic music and spontaneity while remaining faithful to the literal sense. The novel marks a pivotal point in the author's attempt to combine romantic poetry and realistic fiction. Dive into this richly annotated version and explore the different ways of reading and interpreting Eugene Onegin.
Doctor Zhivago book cover
Doctor Zhivago
Boris Pasternak - 1997-03-18 (first published in 1957)
Goodreads Rating
Experience the tumultuous times of the Russian Revolution through the story of a poet/physician and his loves in Doctor Zhivago. Escaping to the Ural Mountains with his family, Zhivago becomes embroiled in the brutal conflict between the Whites and the Reds. Amidst this chaos, Zhivago falls in love with Lara, a woman symbolizing the pain of the era. Through their story, Pasternak explores the theme of love against the backdrop of cruelty and strife. This classic of world literature is masterfully translated by Pevear and Volokhonsky, capturing the spirit of Pasternak's original style, rhythms, voicings, and tone.
Day of the Oprichnik book cover
Day of the Oprichnik
A Novel
Vladimir Sorokin, Jamey Gambrell - 2011-03-15 (first published in 2006)
Goodreads Rating
Experience a chilling and dystopian future in "Day of the Oprichnik." Set in Moscow, 2028, this novel takes you on a journey through a new Russia that combines futuristic technology with the draconian codes of Ivan the Terrible. Follow Andrei Komiaga, one of the czar's most trusted courtiers and feared men, as he navigates through a day filled with brutal executions, extravagant parties, and meetings with the elite. Vladimir Sorokin's gripping storytelling and dark humor create a disturbing yet realistic portrayal of a troubled empire on the brink of collapse. Get ready for a gripping and thought-provoking read that will leave you questioning the future of society.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman
A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov
The Queen of Spades and Other Stories by Alexander Pushkin
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
The Dream Life of Sukhanov by Olga Grushin
The Slynx by Tatyana Tolstaya
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky