Russian Reading Challenge 2008


I had a personal challenge to read more Russian authors, and now Ex Libris has provided me with the perfect support group! The Russian Reading Challenge doesn’t start until the new year, but I need to start planning now. Here are the “rules”:

This challenge is a twelve month challenge, but the minimum number of books to read is only four. Why? Many Russian novels are quite lengthy, so it may take more than one month to read one book. Also, it keeps the burden to a minimum if you are, like me, participating in several reading challenges. You are welcome to read more, though!

Both fiction and non-fiction are acceptable here, as well as short stories and poetry. Authors read should either be authors who wrote (write) in Russian or authors who wrote (write) about Russia and Russians. The challenge begins January 1, 2008 and ends December 31, 2008, so you have plenty of time to be thinking about your book list. Oh, yes, there may even be some prizes in store throughout the year!

I’ve been going through my list of Russian authors in an attempt to whittle it down to a select few, and I can’t (perhaps this is a sign I should be doing Russian literature instead?). In addition, we can read non-fiction, which I am really, really looking forward to. So here is the entire list of my Russian authors (so far). As always, if anyone has suggestions, please let me know. I’ll be choosing from this list next year:

  • Vassily Aksyonov ~ Generations of Winter
  • Isaac Babel ~ The Complete Works of Isaac Babel
  • Andrei Bely ~ Petersburg ~ The Silver Dove
  • Mikhail Bulgakov ~ Black Snow ~ The Heart of a Dog ~ The Master and Margarita
  • Ivan Bunin ~ The Elagin Affair: And Other Stories ~ Sunstroke: Selected Stories of Ivan Bunin ~ Night of Denial: Stories mand Novellas (Bunin was the first Russian author to win a Nobel Prize-1933)
  • Anton Chekhov ~ various short stories and plays
  • Nikolai Chernyshevsky ~ What Is to Be Done?
  • Lydia Chukovskaya ~ Sofia Petrovna
  • Yuri Dombrovsky ~ The Faculty of Useless Knowledge
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky ~ The Brothers Karamazov ~ The Idiot ~ Demons ~ Notes from the Underground
  • Fyodor Gladkov ~ Cement
  • Nikolai Gogol ~ Dead Souls, various short stories
  • Ivan Goncharov ~ Oblomov
  • Vasily Grossman ~ Life and Fate
  • Mikhail Lermontov ~ A Hero of Our Time
  • Nikolai Leskov ~ The Enchanted Wanderer
  • Boris Pasternak ~ Doctor Zhivago
  • Andrei Platanov ~ The Foundation Pit
  • Anatoli Rybakov ~ Heavy Sands ~ Children of the Arbat
  • Mikhail Sholokhov ~ And Quiet Flows the Don
  • Alexander Solzhenitsyn ~ The First Circle ~ The Gulag Archipelago
  • Leo Tolstoy ~ Anna Karenina ~ War and Peace (new trans. Oct. 2007) ~ What is Art? ~ The Kreutzer Sonata ~ Resurrection
  • Tatyana Tolstaya ~ White Walls ~ The Slynx
  • Yuri Trifonov ~ Exchange and Other Stories
  • Evgeniya Tur ~ Antonina
  • Ivan Turgenev ~ Virgin Soil ~ Fathers & Sons
  • Ludmila Ulitskaya ~ The Funeral Party ~ Medea and Her Children
  • Yevgeny Zamyatin ~ We


  • Russian Short Stories from Pushkin to Buida ~ ed. Robert Chandler
  • Soviet Women Writing ~ ed. Helen Goscilo


  • Anna Akhmatova
  • Osip Mandelstam
  • Vladimir Mayakovsky
  • Boris Pasternak
  • Alexander Pushkin
  • Marina Tsvetaeva


  • Anna Akhmatova ~ My Half Century
  • Emma Gerstein ~ Moscow Memories
  • Nadezhda Mandelstam ~ Hope Against Hope
  • Sophia Tolstoy ~ The Diaries of Sophia Tolstoy

Secondary sources/Cultural history:

  • Anne Applebaum ~ Gulag: A History
  • Isaiah Berlin ~ The Soviet Mind ~ Russian Thinkers ~ The Hedgehog and the Fox (about Tolstoy’s view of history)
  • James H. Billington ~ The Icon and the Axe: An Interpretive History of Russian Culture
  • T.J. Binyan ~ Pushkin
  • Ivan Bunin ~ The Liberation of Tolstoy
  • Philip Callow ~ Chekhov
  • Orlando Figes ~ Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russia
  • D. S. Mirsky ~ A History of Russian Literature: From Its Beginnings to 1900
  • Vladimir Nabokov ~ Lectures on Russian Literature

11 responses to this post.

  1. Wow — great list! I could use it as a resource.


  2. Dorothy: Thanks! It’s by no means complete, but I found that I really, really wanted to read every title as I came upon it, so I didn’t even bother trying to choose four or five books for the challenge. This way I can read as my whimsy dictates…


  3. Whimsy is the best way to go! It allows spontaneity.

    What I like about your list is how organised it is. I just throw everything together and now I’m confused by my own list!


  4. Dark Orpheus: I like to organize certain aspects of my life because the rest of it is such a mess. This way, my reading looks organized when in reality, I’m all over the place!


  5. Sarah – what a great list! I’m joining in too, and I’ll be posting my list in a couple of days, though I think I’ve got it all worked out now. It’s miniscule compared to yours! It’ll be great to see if we overlap sometime.

    I can’t wait for the New Year so that I can start! I’m holding off until then.

    My blog’s over here, and I hope that I’ll be posting on the Russian Reading Challenge every so often:

    Good Luck!


  6. Becca: Hooray! The more the merrier. I’m so impatient for the New Year that I’m allowing myself to start the new translation of War and Peace before the challenge (and not counting it). I’ve read it before and I just can’t wait to dive into it again. I can’t wait to see your list! And I’ll be visiting your blog many times, I’m sure 🙂


  7. Hello! I’ve posted my list up today, and I’ll stick it on the ExLibris site too. I’ll be keeping track of your progress!


  8. I’m thinking of reworking my small challenge list as this is the only challenge I’m now involved in. You list looks great!


  9. Heather: Thanks! I love having big lists to choose from. Realistically I’ll probably only get to five or six of the books, but I like having flexibility and there are just too many good books out there! Good luck with the challenge!


  10. Participants in the challenge might be interested in the website for a new novel Reconstructing Mayakovsky. The site,
    is inventive and interactive. Like the novel, it combines elements of science fiction (the man did ask to be resurrected in the future,) poetry, the detective story and historical fiction to tell the story of Mayakovsky in a radically different way. It might even inspire you to read The Bedbug.


  11. Posted by urissezek on December 24, 2009 at 10:59 pm

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    If you can share your experiences here it would be awesome too. Guide this fellow member.

    Thank You.


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