Russian Literature 2014

As I’ve tried to read more diversely and of course make up for the disaster of not reading very many classics last year, I’ve jus decided to take part in the The Russian Literature Challenge.  I’ve been dying to read Russian novels, however the closest I’ve gotten to that is Lolita, and technically that doesn’t count since Nabokov wrote it in English. So here I am signing on the dotted line to complete level 1 of the challenge which is to read 1-3 Russian novels.  Here are the other levels for those who might be interested in joining the challenge:

  • Level one: 1 – 3 books
  • Level two: 4 – 6 books
  • Level three: 7 – 12 books
  • Level four: 12 + books

Now as far as Russian novels go, I’d love to commit to War and Peace but let’s be serious.  That might be just a bit more than I can chew for a first Russian read. Although, it’s been on my TBR since I was in college (a long time ago!).  One day….  After giving it a thought, I’ve decided to read something or all of the following if possible:

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If any of you have read these let me know where I should go after Crime & Punishment.  Let me know what you thought of any of these and what I should look out for.  I know Russian Literature is challenging but I’m up for it! Classics are cool right?!  If you’d like to join in this challenge head over to  Behold the Stars book blog for more details.  You don’t have to be a blogger to join in.  There will be other interesting book bloggers participating and posting after each completed novel.  This should keep me on the straight and narrow, hopefully.  So what Russian novels have you read and loved?  What Russian novel would you love to pick up this year?

30 Comments

  1. Hmm. I think Anna Karenina or Doctor Zhivago might be the most accessible places to start. A few years back, my then reading group chose The Master and Margarita. I was not alone in failing to finish it. Actually, I think the translation I had access to might have been half the problem. It makes such a difference. I’m not ready to join you in the challenge, but I will commit to reading at least one Russian novel during the first half of the year. There. It’s in writing. It will happen.

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  2. I read Crime and Punishment in high school and remembered liking it. I started Anna Karenina in my 20s and got maybe 20% of the way through…It was good; I only stopped because I just wasn’t very disciplined. But my plan is to tackle it this year. Have you considered Dr. Zhivago? It’s a bit more recent. I am quite interested in it. I also have Chekhov’s short stories. Short stories could be a less intimidating way to start, though I am not sure if that will count for the book challenge.

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  3. Excellent, I’m committing to level one as well and since I am doing the Eugene Onegin read-along, I’m already started! I do recommend Pushkin, it’s an easy read and very entertaining, Oh my, now I would just love to hear you do a booktuber on Eugene Onegin,honestly, he needs talking about, the cad! And that Tatyana, reading too many romance novels and then there’s the narrator who keeps drifting off into French :) Go on, add it, it’s shorter than the rest too!

    I am definitely going to read Crime and Punishment and I’ve already read Anna Karenina, which was great. Well, I wonder if Irène Némirovsky counts, even though she wrote her books in French?

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  4. Excellent plan! Good luck with this and I hope you enjoy the Russian literature you read.
    I’ve never read any Russian Literature and really want to try some out. I’m planning on trying to read ‘Crime and Punishment’ this year. And Anna Karenina has intrigued me for the longest time. I’ve just always put off Russian literature because it seems so daunting. Hopefully I’ll get some under my belt this year though!

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  5. I really enjoyed Anna Karenina, it’s long but it’s surprisingly easy so you don’t feel it’s length. It’s now one of my favourite books and I’m looking forward to rereading it many times.

    Good luck for your challenge, looking forward to your thoughts on whatever you decide to read!

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  6. The only book I read was “enfance” from Gorki. I don’t remember it. My favorite russian author wrote in English because he migrated to the US and became very popular, his books are considered classics by Science-Fiction readers : Asimov.

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  7. What a great challenge! You obviously HAVE to read Anna Karenina. Don’t get discouraged by the section on Russian agriculture either – it will be over and then the story continues and the ending! The ending will have you feel so many things.

    I want to read Doctor Zhivago and War and Peace has been on my list for years. I tried reading it 2 years ago, got through 968 pages and discovered that my copy was missing about 60 pages. I’m so far removed from that experience now that I’m pretty sure I have to read the whole thing from the beginning – a depressing though that’s for sure hindering me.

    Good luck with your challenge. Excited to read what you think!

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  8. I have read The Brothers K and Anna Karinena. I thoroughly enjoyed the Brothers. Look to the chapter “The Grand Inquisitor”. It’s brilliant. Although it’s not considered ‘classic’ look to the book “One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich”. I read this in high school and was impressed back then. Rereading it as an adult, it is simply phenomenal. Happy Reading!

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  9. To add to my Twitter comment (as I love Russian lit so much!)… I hope you will enjoy all of the novels you’ve chosen. I took a college class in Russian lit and read quite a stack of books in one semester. At first, I was intimidated by the reading list but I ended up racing through the books — not for lack of time but because I was enjoying them so much! Among my favorites were The Master and Margarita, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and Petersburg. On my own, I read Anna Karenina and loved that one too. I found that the novels weren’t terribly difficult, intimidating works, but actually interesting and in some cases a lot of fun to read! Enjoy!!

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  10. Ooooh, there aren’t many people who share my love for Russian literature so it was exciting to stumble upon your post!:) I definitely recommend The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky – it’s my favorite book of all time!! It’s daunting at first because of it’s enormous length 0_0 but every single page is sooooo worth it, I couldn’t put it down! And it’s not that hard either, since I read it when I was in sixth grade:P It’s an awesome book:)

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    • Well thanks for the recommendation. You’ll just have to follow along to see how I get along. I’d always heard that the Brothers Karamazov was a difficult read, but who cares I’ve been excited about these in particular. Not sure if I’ll be thrilled with all of the stories but I4m going to give it a go. Sty tuned for March review of Crime and Punishment…..Welcome to the blog! Thanks for commenting! :)

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  11. Good luck with such a challenge, Didi! They are surely greats, and I’d be interesed to see if they all include twenty key characters in the first three pages (Cf Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak (Boris Cabbage, in English)). Wonderful, though the film version does seem to make things clearer and the accompanying music demands being armed with a packet of Kleenex for the tears. :-) .

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