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Trans-Siberian Suggested Reading

There are few better scenarios for a good read than being in a comfortable Trans-Siberian train cabin somewhere between Krasnoyarsk and Irkutsk with the endless Taiga forest stretching out from your window, a long way from your destination and with absolutely no pressures on your time. Yes, the Trans-Siberian is a fantastic place to get stuck into a book and particularly a travel book that can bring the area you are travelling through to life.

There are many possibilities and we have listed a few of our favourites below. Please do let us know of any that you think should be added so that we can settle in to them on our next rail adventure!

If you are looking for a guidebook we highly recommend The Trans-Siberian Handbook as well as the excellent Trans-Siberian Railway Encyclopedia.

TIP! Bring your reading matter with you as it is quite difficult to find a good range of books in English in Russia, Mongolia and China.

Trans-Siberian planning reading list book
Through Siberia by Accident by Dervla Murphy

Excellent account of Siberia and in particular the remote and rarely traveled Baikal Amur Line (BAM). Well researched and full of character this book brings Siberia alive through the descriptions of the characters she meets along the way.

Trans-Siberian planning reading list book
The House of the Dead by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Not a happy read but one of Russia’s great writers draws on his experience of 4 years in a prison camp near Omsk and the daily struggle for survival. Read this and you won’t be complaining about the food in the dining car anymore!

Trans-Siberian planning reading list book
In Siberia by Colin Thubron

One of the books about Siberia as Thubron delves far deeper than the average travel writer trying to understand the essence of the people that live there and the land they live in. Quite a dark read but perhaps essential to understand the region.

Trans-Siberian planning reading list book
Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier

Frazier reveals Siberia's role in history, its science, economics, and politics. Traveling by car rather than train from st Petersburg to Vladivostok in five weeks in one of the most humorous, informative and hugely entertaining of Trans-Siberian books.

Trans-Siberian planning reading list book
Asia Overland by Bijan Omrani

This title offers a travel companion and historical travelogue. It is resourced from travel luminaries: from George Kennan to Anton Chekhov, Fa Xian and Xuanzang to Marco Polo and Matteo Ricci.

Trans-Siberian planning reading list book
The City of Heavenly Tranquility by Jasper Becker

One of the best books devoted to Beijing and an entertaining historical account of the city that will give some real insight into what makes Beijing tick. The range is almost up to the modern day which gives the reader a good idea of what Beijing has been through.

Trans-Siberian planning reading list book
The Lost Country: Mongolia Revealed by Jasper Becker

Another Becker offering covering the history of Mongolia through his travels there in the early 90’s. It is full of anecdotes and historical stories of the strange and bizarre and offers a good grounding in Mongolia up until the early years after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Trans-Siberian planning reading list book
The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux

One of the classic travel books about the Trans-Siberian. If you like this Riding the Iron Rooster and the more recent Ghost Train to the Eastern Star are superb, the latter revisiting the travel of The Great Railway Bazaar some 30 years later.


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