3 Popular Russian Books to Teach You Moral Values

Nowadays, we, more often than not, are suffocated with conflicting, ever-shifting standards of morality and ethics. At the same time, we are trying to apply and instill good values at our surroundings, say, our home. Luckily, a really great book that has the power to counter-attack those bad influences from the outside exists.

It might be a book about kindness after the characters experienced or witnessed brutality. It might be a book about showing emotions after the characters saw or heard dreadful news coverage, or maybe a book about understanding differences after the characters saw people who looked and behaved differently than they do.

Russian Literature

Russian writers are masters in teaching the moral values and the big questions of human existence through their magnificent writings. The broad majority of 18th – 19th century’s Russian literature is moralistic. As a result, the people who read held themselves to a high moral standard and maintained a code of civil honor. Almost every moralistic Russian literature revolves around the theme of serving their Motherland and its ruler, the Tsar (Emperor) by using their intellectual resources to improve the status quo. Russian writers along with their literary talent took it upon themselves to not only write, reflect, and philosophize, but to blame, challenge, express their disdain, outrage, contempt, and harshly criticize the governmental or social structures.

In this article, I have rounded up the following list of books to help you raise your moral standard as well as aware of the world around you. Here are 3 popular Russian books to teach you moral values.

  1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

The story is about Anna and Vronsky and Levin and Kitty and Dolly and Stepan Arkadyich. It is about their love and friendship and courtship and shame and pride and jealousy and forgiveness and betrayal and about the insatiate variety of happiness and unhappiness. But it is also about mowing the grass and hunting and working as a bureaucrat and arguing about politics and raising children and dealing politely with the tedious company. To put it more accurately, it is about the way that the human mind as well as human soul engage each of these experiences and tries to understand itself, the world around it, and the other souls that reside in that world.

This book is not hesitant to take up any part of human life because it believes that human beings are infinitely interesting and infinitely worthy of compassion. And, the stirring part of the book is its fearlessness extends to matters of religion. Tolstoy takes his characters seriously enough to acknowledge that they have spiritual beliefs that are as nuanced and mysterious as their intellectual and romantic lives. You can expect the dimension of the book, but you would not have known how encouraging it would be to immerse in it for so long.

In the end, this is a book about life, written by Leo Tolstoy, a man who is profoundly in love with life.


  1. The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy

This book was written in 1886 as the first major fictional work published by Tolstoy during his post-conversion. Tolstoy was known for his religious philosophy which illustrates the values of brotherly love, Christian charity, and mutual support. They are the frameworks for the writing of this book. Just as Tolstoy’s discovery of the true meaning of life that led him to fulfillment and an acceptance of death, Ivan Ilych the main character’s awakening comes through the realization of death which ignites within him fear, anger, contemplation, and eventually acceptance.

Death is the central theme of the story and through it, the character can discern the artificial from the authentic and the dichotomy between the inner and outer man. Tolstoy includes several patterns of reversal into the structure of the book. The actual death of Ivan Ilych and the chronological end of the story occur in the first chapter.

The concepts of life and death are reversed. Early on in his life, when Ivan seems to be blessed with power, free will, and societal status, he is actually being reduced to limitation, repression, and isolation brought on through the grappling force of death. After the seventh chapter, when Ivan is confined to his study and suffers physical deterioration, he, in fact, goes through the process of spiritual rebirth.

  1. A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov

This book is one of the most interesting, eye-opening Russian literature in the 19th century. The more you read, the more you are falling in love with it. It is one of the most extended, sustained meditations on the egotistical mind of a young Casanova. However, the book will not make you despise the main character because there is something intriguing, almost refreshing about the calculated cruelty yet disarming honesty of the main character. He knows he cannot commit and says so. Then, he ponders about the meaning of life and why he was born when he causes the misery of so many around him. This book really raises the questions of why people do somehow, irrationally, get attracted to such character.

You will be amazed by the intricacies of the main character’s mind and love the experience of entering into his psyche with his elaborate schemes to seduce women. This is definitely also a great book for those who want to educate themselves on how crafty a Casanova’s mind can be.


Unlike Tolstoy, this is not some huge Russian beast of a novel, as it sits comfortably at under two-hundred pages. Although there are three different narrators, the whole thing works well and is perfectly graspable for anyone who has read any of the Old Russian classics. The book makes its points efficiently, in a little amount of time. Lermontov does not beat around the bush when kicking things off and builds a picture straight away.

So, those are 3 popular Russian books to teach you moral values. You may also read 5 Most Important Books from Russia You Have to Know!

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