6 Hardest Russian Books You Will Ever Read

We all have at least one book which to us humble brags having read. We all have that one hardest book we slogged through one day.

There are two basic types of difficulties. Some books are hard to read because of the matter of the subject they promote such as a matter of sexual assault on educational institutions and the failing of both the legitimate and educational systems to help the victims which are just brutal. And the crystal clear prose written about it does not make it easy on the reader either. Meanwhile, other books are hard to physically digest as prose.

There are also books people often talk about that are hard to read in the most literal way due to intricate sentences, irrelative plots, a million pages long which are hard to hold up after a while, et cetera.

Hardest Russian Books

If you are learning the Russian language, it is really important to have a series of resources you can use to enhance and support your study. Russian book is one of those books that could make you work the hardest. However, once you actually finished the book, it would feel like it was worth the effort.

Most people may opt for short stories of various genres such as crime, history, science fiction, or thriller, in short, manageable reads. They gradually introduce new vocabularies at a steady pace, making the book ideal for students.

However, there is also a great collection of books written by world’s well-known writers as well as Russian literature’s famous names such as Gogol, Pushkin, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, et cetera with trace word-for-word English translations on the pages. They may be hard to read and pick up a complex topic to follow but they are great for having a flavor of Russian literature whilst at the same time broadening your vocabularies and passively understanding grammatical structures.

Below is a list of 6 hardest Russian books you will ever read. You can deem these as a great tool to learn and dabble in Russian literature.

  1. In Putin’s Footsteps: Searching for the Soul of an Empire Across Russia’s Eleven Time Zones by Nina Khrushcheva and Jeffrey Tayler

The book tells about the two professional commentators on the Russian-speaking world who determine to find a stepping stone at the very beginning of the Putin era, more specifically when the then-new president aspired to pay a visit to all of Russia’s time zones fast enough to pass a New Year’s address in everyone. Unlike other similar books which more often than not revolve around the Kremlin, this book turns the focus to Russia’s regions instead.


  1. First Cosmic Velocity by Zach Powers

This book is highly intriguing and to think that it is Zach Powers’ debut book is even more intriguing. It tells a story about the Soviet space program that has been built on a falsehood. It turns out that no spacecraft has ever got to go back to Earth. As a result, every cosmonaut has a twin who waits to confiscate their life once they launch for good. Leonid, who is the last of the twins, struggles with the consequences of this trickery as Nikita Khrushchev, one who is unaware of the fraud scheme, asks for his own pet dog to be launched to space.

  1. Mother Country: A Novel by Irina Reyn

In this book, Irina Reyn who is an experienced author deciphers the aftermath of war and xenophobia. The story starts off with Nadia, a woman who is ethnically Russian but moved to Brooklyn from Ukraine, struggles with the oppositions of the last five years event as the Department of Homeland Security keeps and prevents her daughter from going along with her. It is when her daughter does not have enough access to medicine she needs that Nadia starts to take extraordinary measures to get back her daughter.

  1. Last Witnesses: An Oral History of the Children of World War II by Svetlana Alexievich

This book has already left a permanent impression on international audiences with the oral history of women on the Eastern Front of World War II. It was first published in Russian back in 1985 as the following installment of Alexievich’s exquisite cycle Voices from Utopia. Fortunately, it is now being published in English to meet the needs of global readers. Alexievich’s capacity to couple the voices of her interviewee into an inspiring narrative is already haunting enough when she concentrates on adults and when she applied it to childhood experiences; it could leave the readers aching.


  1. A Bend in the Stars by Rachel Barenbaum

This book has a fascinating plot although it is not always easy to grasp. The story tells about Miri and Vanya Abramov who are raised by their grandmother in a small Jewish community. Miri is determined to become one of Russia’s only female surgeons while Vanya is striking at the cracks in Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Unfortunately, as war breaks out in 1914, both Miri and Vanya are torn between running off with their lives and trying their best to survive in a homeland where they might build scientific history. However, when Vanya is nowhere to be found and Miri decides to go and look for him, both their welfare and their scientific findings are at risk.

  1. The Night Witches by Garth Ennis and Russ Braun

Think about the idea of women flying Soviet biplanes in extremely dangerous missions against the Nazis. It already makes a historic legend. But this graphic book approaches that history from a whole new perspective. First, it shows the world of a single “Night Witch” visually by placing the readers in the hands of two veterans in the comics sector. Second, it roams the complexities of standing between the Nazis and the threat of Soviet oppression, rendering a narrative that is bound to be purely patriotic.

So, those are 6 hardest Russian books you will ever read. Pat yourself on the back if you have read one.

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