Hello wonderfuls, how’s your week going on?
Last time I ranted about Russian classics and how they affect Russians, and now we’re moving on recommendations of what I think are the must-read Russian classics.
Less ranting, more recommendations, let’s go!
1. Mikhail Bulgakov, “The Master and Margarita” (1966)
You saw me ranting about this book, now it’s time to officially shout in your face: “READ THIS BOOK! READ, READ, REEEEAAAD!”
Seriously, this book is sooo good you can’t deny that. And once you’ve read it, you’ll want to read that again. And again. And again. Because Begemot will make you feel so. I guarantee that.
Okay, where’s my physical copy? Let me read that AGAIN, too.
2. Mihail Lermontov, “A Hero Of Our Time” (1840)
I must be honest: I still haven’t read myself this book ever since school days. But this is a favorite classic book of my BFF, and I tend to trust her, and also put that into my TBR list as well.
But this book is a must-read for everyone who’s interested in digging deep the Russian society, and how to actually break the stereotypes of what was considered “normal” at that time.
Loving the rebels.
3. Ivan Turgenev, “Fathers and Sons” (1862)
Another book about so called “rebels” of Russian traditional society. This is something that can be applied even to our modern society, especially ones with very deep traditions that are hard to break.
Evgeny Bazarov, the main character of the book, became a role model for so many young minds back at 19th century, with his completely new philosophy of Nihilism; but throughout the story, love changes the main character completely.
Well, you could say it’s a typical story, but again, you don’t wanna learn about Russian society?
4. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, “Crime and Punishment” (1867)
Now this one is hard book to read, but it’s completely worth the time and effort. This novel is ALL ABOUT how human psychology works. Need something to feed your brain with enough thoughts on human nature? This is a perfect book for you.
And, of course, your opinion as a school kid is completely different from what you think as an adult. When you know more or less about how to deal with society, this book gives you even more questions about motives of certain actions.
5. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, “The Brothers Karamazov” (1879-1880)
I must say: I used to hate everything Dostoyevsky, so I didn’t even bother reading anything with his name on even when it was included in our annual summer TBR lists (yes, imagine that Russian schools still have those annual summer TBR lists that is MANDATORY to all students), so yeah, now that I regret not spending my summer reading all those books instead of running under the sun, I’d be filling all the gaps I created at school. And this book is also in that Fill-The-Gap list.
6. Mikhail Sholokhov, “The Fate of a Man” (1956-1957)
Oh, this book will hit you hard in your feelings.
I remember being immersed in the story (and it’s actually a short story, enough to be read within a day). The sadness the man is having after all the events happened to him is so big, he barely finds a way to escape.
And then there’s a boy who’s too young to merit the family loss. Two lost souls find each other to overcome all the life struggles. If that won’t make you cry a river, I don’t know what will.
7. Maxim Gorky, “The Old Woman Izergil” (1894)
This is what I call a masterpiece of short stories. No, really. This is really short, you can read it within an hour or so. Yet the impression after reading is so strong you would be having a book hangover for days. I had.
So many truths in such simple words. I still remember how I was in awe after finishing the story and before preparing the analysis essay for my literature classes. I remember how words were coming out more and more under my pen when I was writing my impressions and explanations on the paper.
Oh, that aftertaste…
8. Yevgeny Zamyatin, “We” (1921)
Russian styled dystopia anyone? This is even heavier than any kind of Hunger Games, Divergent or of that sort. No, I’m definitely not bashing any of thуse dystopia series (come on, I love THG!), but We is on completely another level. I even remember not being able to understand a thing in the book due to young age. Considering the fact that (spoiler!) the so-called “evil” wins, it’s just WOW.
We need to read that.
9. Alexander Pushkin, “The Queen of Spades” (1834)
Could you even imagine anyone writing a realistic story with a little bit of fantasy back in 19th century? Cause I can’t. Yet The Queen of Spades by Pushkin has exactly what I just said: a real story with a spice of fantasy.
A good example of how greed lead a man to a complete madness. Damn, I’m having Alice associations again. Gonna write it down before it vanishes from my mind!
10. Anton Chekhov, “The Cherry Orchard” (1904)
One of the most famous, if not THE ONLY MOST famous Russian play was written by Anton Chekhov in 20th century.
I read this one for the first time when I was only 7 or 8. So many characters, so many events, and I finished that without fully understanding the point of the story. Only when I hit my senior year in school, I could reread that and finally realise all the topics raised up in the play.
Truly, truly wonderful story to read.
So that’s it! Here we have my personal Top 10 Must-read Russian classics for you! Feel free to ask me anything on those books, and, if you read any of them, DO SHARE your opinions!
Or maybe you have other Russian classics that you liked more than the listed? You are welcomed to share that as well!