100 books like Journey into Russia

By Laurens van der Post,

Here are 100 books that Journey into Russia fans have personally recommended if you like Journey into Russia. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Sakhalin Island

Sara Wheeler Author Of Mud and Stars: Travels in Russia with Pushkin, Tolstoy, and Other Geniuses of the Golden Age

From my list on to read when visiting Russia.

Who am I?

Sara Wheeler is a prize-winning non-fiction author. Sara is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Contributing Editor of The Literary Review, a Trustee of The London Library, and former chair of the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year award. She contributes to a wide range of publications in the UK and US and broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio. Her five-part series, ‘To Strive, To Seek’,  went out on Radio 4, and her book Cherry was made into a television film. 

Sara's book list on to read when visiting Russia

Sara Wheeler Why did Sara love this book?

The writer’s account of a journey across Siberia and into the Russian Far East to investigate prison conditions on an island in the Sea of Okhotsk north of Japan. A book of investigative journalism and a finely worked travel narrative conjuring spongy mud, ‘smoky, dreamy mountains’ and ‘lithe’ rivers while the author dreams of turbot, asparagus and kasha.

By Anton Chekhov,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sakhalin Island as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1890, the thirty-year-old Chekhov, already knowing that he was ill with tuberculosis, undertook an arduous eleven-week journey from Moscow across Siberia to the penal colony on the island of Sakhalin. Now collected here in one volume are the fully annotated translations of his impressions of his trip through Siberia and the account of his three-month sojourn on Sakhalin Island, together with his notes and extracts from his letters to relatives and associates. Highly valuable both as a detailed depiction of the Tsarist system of penal servitude and as an insight into Chekhov's motivations and objectives for visiting the colony…


Book cover of On Sledge and Horseback to Outcast Siberian Lepers

Sara Wheeler Author Of Mud and Stars: Travels in Russia with Pushkin, Tolstoy, and Other Geniuses of the Golden Age

From my list on to read when visiting Russia.

Who am I?

Sara Wheeler is a prize-winning non-fiction author. Sara is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Contributing Editor of The Literary Review, a Trustee of The London Library, and former chair of the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year award. She contributes to a wide range of publications in the UK and US and broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio. Her five-part series, ‘To Strive, To Seek’,  went out on Radio 4, and her book Cherry was made into a television film. 

Sara's book list on to read when visiting Russia

Sara Wheeler Why did Sara love this book?

Also published in 1893, the same year as Chekhov’s Sakhalin Island. Marsden, a London-born nurse, found her vocation tending to sick and abandoned Russians. The book offers a remarkable portrait of the remotest reaches of the Russian Empire, as well as the author’s indomitable spirit.

By Kate Marsden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On Sledge and Horseback to Outcast Siberian Lepers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Kate Marsden (1859-1931), the youngest of eight children from a poor family, was a highly committed nurse. She cared for soldiers in the Russo-Turkish War in 1877-8, and undertook missionary travels to various countries, but she was especially concerned about the plight of those suffering from leprosy. This volume, published in 1893, describes her remarkable journey to Siberian leper colonies. At first she travelled by sledge with a friend, but continued alone on horseback, facing appalling weather conditions with her customary courage. Her commitment to leprosy sufferers led her to found the St Francis Leprosy Guild in London in 1895,…


Book cover of Among the Russians

Steven Faulkner Author Of Bitterroot: Echoes of Beauty & Loss

From my list on travel that enrich landscape with history.

Who am I?

After reading travel books that voyaged beyond mere tourism into the life of the land, its people, and its histories, I found myself longing to launch my own journeys. I took a thousand-mile canoe trip with my son following the 1673 route of the French explorers Marquette and Joliet; I crossed the Rockies with two sons by foot, mountain bike, and canoe following Lewis and Clark and their Nez Perce guides; I took to sea kayak and pontoon boat with a son and daughter, 400 miles along the Gulf Coast in pursuit of the 1528 Spanish Narvaez Expedition. Writing of these journeys gave me the chance to live twice.

Steven's book list on travel that enrich landscape with history

Steven Faulkner Why did Steven love this book?

Colin Thubron showed me real travel writing: a journey in words that leads the reader through detailed landscapes, personal encounters with local people, and a depth of understanding that can only come through the human history of these landscapes.

I took this trip with Thubron when Russia was still the Soviet Union. Thubron met dissidents living in Moscow, drank vodka with them late into the night, traveled north to the remnants of Soviet concentration camps, took the rails through that vast continent across the steppes, over the mountains, around huge lakes, all the way to the Pacific coast. The book is beautifully written and introduced me to a travel writer I have read many times since.

By Colin Thubron,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Among the Russians as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Thubron learnt Russian and entered the then Soviet Union in an old Morris Marina in which he camped and drove for almost 10,000 miles between the Baltic and Caucasus. This book provides a revealing picture of the many races who inhabit the country and the human side behind state socialism.


Book cover of Black Earth City

Sara Wheeler Author Of Mud and Stars: Travels in Russia with Pushkin, Tolstoy, and Other Geniuses of the Golden Age

From my list on to read when visiting Russia.

Who am I?

Sara Wheeler is a prize-winning non-fiction author. Sara is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Contributing Editor of The Literary Review, a Trustee of The London Library, and former chair of the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year award. She contributes to a wide range of publications in the UK and US and broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio. Her five-part series, ‘To Strive, To Seek’,  went out on Radio 4, and her book Cherry was made into a television film. 

Sara's book list on to read when visiting Russia

Sara Wheeler Why did Sara love this book?

A wonderful account of a young Englishwoman’s year as a student in Voronezh in the potato belt. Crucially, that year was 1991, and Hobson saw it all. At once lyrical, funny and grim, this is a book that stands the test of time despite it all.

By Charlotte Hobson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black Earth City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of a young woman's heady encounter with Russia - and a society in collapse. In 1991, Charlotte Hobson went to study for a year in the provincial town of Voronezh. She captures the lives of her young contemporaries as the Soviet Union breaks up around them: Viktor, and his brutal memories of military service; Lola who sleeps with her fellow students for a share of their dinner; Yakov, blowing a million roubles of the Salvation Army's money on a taxi to Minsk to see a girl. Here too is the author's story and Mitya's. Their love affair begins…


Book cover of Russia and the Idea of Europe: A Study in Identity and International Relations

Andrei P. Tsygankov Author Of Russia's Foreign Policy: Change and Continuity in National Identity

From my list on Russia’s foreign policy after the Cold War.

Who am I?

I am a Russian academic living in the West and a contributor to both Western and Russian academia. I move between the two and try to build bridges by explaining the two sides’ differences and areas of potential cooperation. I do it in my teaching and research on international politics, which I understand through the lens of culture and politics. Most of my books analyze Russian and Western patterns of thinking formed through history and interaction with each other. I love reading good books about these topics and hope you enjoy my selected list!

Andrei's book list on Russia’s foreign policy after the Cold War

Andrei P. Tsygankov Why did Andrei love this book?

Russia has historically connected to Europe as its significant other. This book describes the nature of the country’s identity development through the love-hate relations with European nations and search for recognition by Western other. Sometimes, Russia has sought to borrow Europe’s institutions and values. Other times, it has positioned itself as a great power and a superior system of internal values relative to “corrupt” Europe. 

By Iver B. Neumann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Russia and the Idea of Europe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The end of the Soviet system and the transition to the market in Russia, coupled with the inexorable rise of nationalism, brought to the fore the centuries-old debate about Russia's relationship with Europe. In this revised and updated second edition of Russia and the Idea of Europe, Iver Neumann discusses whether the tensions between self-referencing nationalist views and Europe-orientated liberal views can ever be resolved.

Drawing on a wide range of Russian sources, this book retains the broad historical focus of the previous edition and picks up from where the it off in the early 1990s, bringing the discussion fully…


Book cover of Mirror of the Soul: A Life of the Poet Fyodor Tyutchev

Donald Rayfield Author Of Stalin and His Hangmen: The Tyrant and Those Who Killed for Him

From my list on Russia and the USSR.

Who am I?

Since adolescence, I have been fascinated by Slavonic languages, literature, cultures, and history, and by what can be retrieved from archives all over Eastern Europe. And because so much has been suppressed or distorted in everything from biographies of writers to atrocities by totalitarian governments, there has been much to expose and write about. Studying at Cambridge in the 1960s gave me an opportunity to learn everything from Lithuanian to Slovak: I have been able to write histories of Stalin and of Georgia, biographies of Russians such as Chekhov, Suvorin, and Przhevalsky, and the field is still fresh and open for future work.

Donald's book list on Russia and the USSR

Donald Rayfield Why did Donald love this book?

The most compelling aspect of Mirror of the Soul is its analysis of the great poet Tyutchev’s bi-polar temperament and compulsive philandering. He was a forgivable Don Juan, in that he deeply empathized with his victims, although his misbehaviour shortened the lives of his first wife and of his most infatuated mistress. Morbidly irresponsible, he impregnated at least two mistresses and both his wives before marriage. Joy was for Tyutchev a thin veneer of light over misery and darkness; deaths of those close to him and contrition (if not guilt) finally reconciled him, in a death-bed poem, with a “punitive God” who removes everything — “breath, willpower, sleep” — leaving just an aggrieved, loving wife as his intermediary. Mirror of the Soul is beautifully written and edited. It will be, for a long time, the standard work on Tyutchev, doubtless in Russia, too.

Book cover of They Fought for the Motherland: Russia's Women Soldiers in World War I and the Revolution

Alison Fell Author Of Women as Veterans in Britain and France After the First World War

From my list on women and the First World War.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by the First World War ever since I read Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth at the age of 19. When I lived in France in my twenties I started to read French nurses’ memoirs and diaries, and for the last fifteen years or so have continued to read and write about women’s experiences during and after the war as a university academic researcher, often from a comparative perspective. Men’s stories and memories of the First World War still dominate our understanding of it, but I believe that women’s perspectives give us a vital and often overlooked insight into the war and its consequences.

Alison's book list on women and the First World War

Alison Fell Why did Alison love this book?

Although they are largely forgotten now, the five to six thousand Russian women who enlisted as soldiers were amongst the most photographed and written about women in the First World War, especially the charismatic but tyrannical leader of the 1st Russian Women’s Battalion of Death, Maria Bochkareva. Stoff’s book gives a highly readable and fascinating account of their formation, their military action, their ill-fated involvement in the defence of the Winter Palace when it was stormed by the Bolsheviks in November 1917, and their reception by the rest of the world as the only battalions of women to carry out officially sanctioned combat roles in the war.

Stoff uses their own memoirs alongside other first-hand accounts by American, British, and French diplomats stationed in Russian in the tumultuous year of 1917, and her book provides a balanced and nuanced analysis.

By Laurie S. Stoff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked They Fought for the Motherland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Women have participated in war throughout history, but their experience in Russia during the First World War was truly exceptional. Between the war's beginning and the October Revolution of 1917, approximately 6,000 women answered their country's call. These courageous women became media stars throughout Europe and America, but were brushed aside by Soviet chroniclers and until now have been largely neglected by history. Laurie Stoff draws on deep archival research into previously unplumbed material, including many first-person accounts, to examine the roots, motivations, and legacy of these women. She reveals that Russia was the only nation in World War I…


Book cover of The Russian Army in the Great War: The Eastern Front, 1914-1917

Joshua A. Sanborn Author Of Imperial Apocalypse: The Great War and the Destruction of the Russian Empire

From my list on Russia in World War I.

Who am I?

I’m a professor of history at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, and I’ve been studying Russia ever since visiting the Soviet Union as a college student in 1990. I’ve been particularly interested in seeking connections between violence and other dimensions of historical experience. My first book (Drafting the Russian Nation) explored connections between political ideologies and violence, Imperial Apocalypse is in part a social history of violence, and my current project is examining the connection between literary cultures, professional communities, and the violence of the Cold War.

Joshua's book list on Russia in World War I

Joshua A. Sanborn Why did Joshua love this book?

There is a shortage of good books on the military aspect of the war on the Eastern Front, with some of the most prominent books in English (and for that matter in Russian) dating back nearly fifty years. Stone’s volume is a prominent exception in this regard. Stone is thoughtful, concise, and judicious throughout. Readers will emerge with a comprehensive view of combat operations – and more.

By David R. Stone,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Russian Army in the Great War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A full century later, our picture of World War I remains one of wholesale, pointless slaughter in the trenches of the Western front. Expanding our focus to the Eastern front, as David R. Stone does in this masterly work, fundamentally alters-and clarifies-that picture. A thorough, and thoroughly readable, history of the Russian front during the First World War, this book corrects widespread misperceptions of the Russian Army and the war in the east even as it deepens and extends our understanding of the broader conflict.

Of the four empires at war by the end of 1914-the Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, German, and…


Book cover of Open Fire

Eva Seyler Author Of The War in Our Hearts

From my list on historical fiction books about WWI.

Who am I?

I’ve always loved history and historical stories, but like the majority of people, didn’t really know very much about WWI. That changed in early 2017 when I read The Zimmermann Telegram by Barbara W Tuchman. I immediately fell into a vortex of further reading, resulting in my writing The War in Our Hearts at the end of that year--because although there is a lot of great non-fiction out there about WWI, there aren’t nearly as many novels that quite scratched the itch I had for fiction…so I wrote the book I wanted to read!

Eva's book list on historical fiction books about WWI

Eva Seyler Why did Eva love this book?

This is a fantastic novel about a girl soldier in Russia who joins the Women’s Battalion of Death, during the time that the Russian Revolution was beginning and morale among male soldiers was flagging. The Russian army thought the men’s morale might be boosted if girls came along and gave the men a little competition. I love the camaraderie and amazing determination of these women to do their bit for their country.

By Amber Lough,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Open Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

A dramatic page-turner that captures the devastating toll of war and the impact of women's struggles and solidarity, through the lens of a little-known slice of history.

In 1917, Russia is losing the war with Germany, soldiers are deserting in droves, and food shortages on the home front are pushing people to the brink of revolution. Seventeen-year-old Katya is politically conflicted, but she wants Russia to win the war. Working at a munitions factory seems like the most she can do to serve her country―until the government begins recruiting an all-female army battalion. Inspired, Katya enlists. Training with other brave…


Book cover of Rubies in the Snow: Diary of Russia's Last Grand Duchess, 1911-1918

Helen Azar Author Of In the Steps of the Romanovs: Final two years of the last Russian imperial family (1916-1918)

From my list on historical fiction on royalty and Russia.

Who am I?

After a relatively short career in research science, Helen Azar switched gears and returned to graduate school to fulfill a dream of becoming a reference librarian. She worked at the Free Library of Philadelphia for ten years, during which time she became a published author. While researching for her first book, The Diary of Olga Romanov, Helen visited Russia several times, and worked in the Rare Book Fund at the Museum at Tsarskoe Selo, which holds the imperial book collection. Today, Helen lives on the beautiful far south coast of New South Wales, Australia; she continues writing about Russia's last imperial family and leads Romanov history tours. She also administers The Romanov Family website and is the content creator for a YouTube channel In the Steps of the Romanovs.

Helen's book list on historical fiction on royalty and Russia

Helen Azar Why did Helen love this book?

I am surprised that I never came across this book until now. I rarely read Young Adult books, but of course make exceptions for Romanov fiction. There simply is not enough decent Romanov fiction out there, period. IMO this one is a gem. Although of course it is not based on the diaries of real Anastasia (who unfortunately burnt them all when the revolution broke out), the author clearly did a lot of research and seemingly read the diaries of the other sisters. Not sure why this book got so many 3 star ratings, even though the reviews say it is a very good book, but I would definitely recommend it to Romanov fiction and non-fiction history fans.

By Kate Hubbard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rubies in the Snow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The diary of Anastasia Nicolaevna Romanov, the last Grand Duchess.


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