4 Best Russian Novels to Read for Beginners

Reading easy Russian novels will help you develop and improve your reading skills. Just as a wise man once said, practice makes perfect. But when you are learning Russian, just figuring out the Cyrillic letters seems like a challenge already. That is why it is important to start off with easy Russian novels that will not make you overwhelmed but still provide the material you need to improve your reading.

In addition, easy Russian novels will help you gain new vocabulary. As you read, you will find some words you have not known yet. Fortunately, since the novels are easy, you might be able to learn the words from context clues per se. This is the best way to learn new vocabulary with what seems like very little effort.

The popularity of Russian literature spreads worldwide. While some people enjoy intense classics such as War and Peace, others might be interested in an easier gateway into Russian literature. Russian literature is widely known for a good reason, and being able to read Russian classics in the original Russian will expand your literary scope. Listed below are 4 best Russian novels to read for beginners. The novels recommended below are not just for improving your reading skills in general but also introduce you to classic stories and folk tales from Russian literary history.

  1. White Nights by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

This story is the one people used to introduce others to Dostoyevsky. If you like Russian festival called White Nights, you will like Fyodor Mikhailovich, and if you do not then you will not. In it, you are going to be introduced to a charming, intelligent young man who lives on the edges of St. Petersburg, a shy dreamer who spends almost all his time alone. However, the life of his observations and imagination is very rich. He daydreams in 3D with vivid colors. Passionate and intricate tales engross him completely, to the point that an actual friend knocking on his door to say hello flusters him, leaving him nonplussed for the entire short awkward visit. Dostoyevsky, in his brilliant way, will make you care deeply about the hero and feel a total sense of identification with him. Each time you read this story, the more Dostoyevsky plumbs the secret depths of your soul that not even you have any idea of. You will feel as though he is writing about you and only you, through a century and a half of time travel and a thorough reading of your subconscious mind.

  1. Heart of A Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov

Despite being a short story, this book actually has endless layers. On the surface, it is a hilariously sad story about a science experiment gone really wrong in the direction that its creator did not quite anticipate, and all the funny antics of the newly created sort-of-human Sharikov.

On the other level, it is a cautionary warning about what happens when power falls in the hands of those who should not be allowed to possess it, and the dangers and pitfalls of the system that allows that to happen including an easy step from killing cats to pointing guns at real people, forcing sex in exchange for keeping a job, and of course the ultimate evil that was to penetrate the fabric of the years to come, writing complaints about little else than petty personal gains.

Heart of A Dog is, before anything else, interesting. It is just really entertaining. Bulgakov delivers a solid core message amongst all this hysteria about the dangers of people and government brandishing their power on others, about how terrifyingly bad things can go when the haves help themselves to the have-nots. You can think for days on this stuff and go around in circles because there are just so many ideas flying around in the 100 pages of this book.

  1. Day of the Oprichnik (Oprichnik’s Russia #1) by Vladimir Sorokin

It is a futuristic Russian novel tied to the past. Sorokin has gone through Soviet Russia and the rise and fall of democracy. This book tells a story about a single day in the life of Oprichnik Andrei Danilovich Komiaga in post-Putin Russia.

Sorokin takes a reader on a trip to a Russia that returns to the past which was ruled by an autocratic Czar and a renewed religious fervor in the country. The readers will experience a day in the life of Andrei Danilovich Komiaga, a rising member of the small Oprichnik unit. In addition, to strengthening the royal decrees, there are also the operations of the unit as what seems to be an organized crime family. Drugs, extortion, and luxury are the way of life. The readers will also witness the variable moral values where cursing is disallowed but rape is accepted. Day of the Oprichnik is a novel of what possibly happens when a society blindly falls to a religion or a ruler. Although it is a bit hyperbolic at times, the message is still clear.

  1. The Overcoat and Other Short Stories by Nikolai Gogol

This book is really engaging and easy to follow. The writing is beautiful and powerful all at once, not snooty or pretentious at all. It is also original, deep, enlightening, and timeless, especially in that it never tries to focus on trends or fads but rather lifestyles that continue to prevail in some various points throughout history. Gogol writes in the absurd genre so sometimes it may seem weird for some people, but he also draws out human emotions to make his characters seem so real and makes such great commentary on the life that he will make you want to read and re-read his books. Even in his short stories, there are often many details and it is not surprising that Gogol is often considered to be the Father of Realism in Russian literature.

So, those are 4 best Russian novels to read for beginners.

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