Russia Reading List
Below you can see our selection of books mainly focused on Russian travel rather than history or novels. The list is far from exhaustive and if you have come across any books you think should also be there please let us know and we will add in them.
LETTERS FROM RUSSIA - ASTOLPHE DE CUSTINE
This wonderfully crafted and deeply insightful account of the Marquis de Custine's trip to Russia in 1839 is a fantastic piece of travel writing. Custine’s vivid descriptions of Russian life come from his willingness to mix with all walks of life from the tzar himself down to those living in the countryside. This new edition is a mirror onto the forces of history that are still relevant today.
TRAVELS IN SIBERIA - IAN FRAZIER
In this work of humour and enthusiasm Frazier tells the story of Siberia in a way he only could. Covering history, politics, science and economics this book tells both the stories of famous exiles Dostoyevsky, Lenin, and Stalin as well as giving us a view of his own personal experiences among friends that extends into giving us a clear picture of Russia since the collapse of Communism.
WHERE NIGHTS ARE LONGEST - COLIN THUBRON
Charting Thubron’s 10,000 mile journey through Western Russia, Where Nights are the Longest gives us an account of a journey, though fully state organised, that still sees him often meeting with dissidents as well as mixing among locals. His grasp of Russian gives him a deeper look under the skin of Soviet Russia than was perhaps first planned by the state authorities.
RUSSIA: A JOURNEY TO THE HEART OF A LAND AND ITS PEOPLE - JONATHAN DIMBLEBY
Jonathan Dimbleby’s story of his 10,000 mile adventure across this country that is still little understood in the West. From west to east Dimbleby encounters the incredibly wide range of individuals that make up Russia. This book gives insight into both this incredible country that is undergoing such radical changes as well as the effect of this epic journey through Russia on the author.
IN SIBERIA - COLIN THUBRON
Colin Thubron’s bestseller from the 80’s charted his journey through the old Soviet Union in an old Morris Minor. This time he’s tackling late 90’s Siberia by bus, truck and boat. He again creates not only a readable account but a vivid picture of this remote region of the world. Mixing the history of the region with the modern landscape this is a wonderful slice of Siberia.
ONE STEPPE BEYOND - THOM WHEELER
A wonderfully quirky ride across the former Soviet Union for Thom and his friend Jo in a beat up old VW camper It doesn’t disappoint with everyone from corrupt officials to over friendly gangsters coming at the pair on their journey from Estonia to Vladivostok. Way off the beaten track they experience the end of one regime and the beginning of another in 90’s Russia.
THE BIG RED TRAIN RIDE - ERIC NEWBY
Eric Newby writer of ``When the Snow Comes, They Will Take You Away``, ``The World Atlas of Exploration`` and ”Great Ascents`` as well as many other travel books set out in 1997 to cross from Western Europe to the Pacific coast on the Trans Siberian Railway, the only continuous land route there is for these 5900 miles and seven time zones. A humorous look at life in Soviet Russia that doesn’t disappoint.
The Great Railway Bazaar - Paul Theroux
Paul Theroux’s account of his epic journey by rail through Asia. Describing some of the world’s most exotic train lines including the Khyber Pass Local, the Delhi Mail from Jaipur and the Trans-Siberian Express this book captures conversations had as well as the wealth of experience on offer. A book that captures the culture, sights and sounds that these railway journeys provide.
GHOST TRAIN TO THE EASTERN STAR - PAUL THEROUX
Revisiting his journey three decades before, Paul Theroux shows us just how much this region of the world has changed in that time. From the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of China to the booming India and flourishing Vietnam everywhere he looks great change has occurred. Theroux captures this with his amazing eye for detail and his childlike curiosity.
NATASHA’S DANCE - A CULTURAL HISTORY OF RUSSIA
Figes book deals with how Russian writers, musicians and artists dealt with the idea of what Russia itself is. Mixing the great works of Dostoevsky, Stravinsky, and Chagall with the stories and songs and traditions of the Russian peasantry he uncovers a sense of “Russianness” that is is complex and exhilarating while being contradictory and enduring.
A HISTORY OF MODERN RUSSIA - ROBERT SERVICE
An overview of twentieth Century Russia that takes the history of the Soviet Union and post Soviet history of Yeltsin and Putin’s time as one single period analysing the strange mix of social and political ingredients mixed with the economic ones that made up the Soviet model. From Russian certainty under Communist rule to the less certain world facing Russia today.
SILVERLAND: A WINTER JOURNEY BEYOND THE URALS - DERVLA MURPHY
Charting Dervla Murphy's expedition through the snowscapes of Far Eastern Russia. Travelling by slow train through areas barely exposed to tourism bordering Japan, Mongolia and the Arctic circle. A whole host of wonderful characters await her in this peculiar world of reindeer and ancient shamanism. This book is warm and gives a rare insight into a world untouched by tourism.
THROUGH SIBERIA BY ACCIDENT - DERVLA MURPHY
Through Siberia by Accident is Dervla Murphy’s book about a journey that didn't happen but what happened instead. Originally planning on a trip well off the beaten track to Ussuriland,an accident to her leg found her incapacitated in Eastern Siberia. Despite her physical state she found nothing but warmness and generosity for her, a complete stranger in this place far from home.