I’ve collected quite a few books already in my study of Russian. Not only are they a rich source of knowledge, they can also be a lot of fun to read! If you click on the images, you’ll be taken to Amazon where you can purchase these items.
Full disclosure: If you do click through these links and buy a book, theoretically, I make a buck or two. I say theoretically, because it hasn’t happened yet, so I don’t know if it really works. But it doesn’t cost you anymore to buy it through this link, so if you think you’re going to buy it anyway and you like what I’ve been doing here and want to support it — please click through the links to buy the books!
This is my favorite Russian grammar book. It takes a unique approach — many unique approaches actually, in the way that it presents information. It makes a distinction between informal spoken Russian, standard Russian and academic Russian, which is absent from any other book or dictionary that I’ve seen and really helps you to understand when and where to use certain words or expressions. One section that is incredibly helpful contains words in Russian that are difficult to render in English, and then words in English that are difficult to render in Russian. The English word “turn” lists 31 Russian words, and explains the subtle (or not subtle) differentiation from the others. It contains sections on idioms and expressions, including several pages of computer terms rendered in Russian. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
This is a really fascinating and unique Russian-English dictionary because rather than list the words alphabetically, it lists them in the order of most frequently used. So whenever I’m bored (like that ever happens) I go through, starting from the beginning and find the next 25 words that I don’t know. I know that I’ll learning useful words all of the time. In class they teach by “themes”, which is cool, except that I don’t really need to know the Russian for “mountain climbing” when we are in the sports theme. Anyway, I find this thing to be a lot of fun. It does list the words alphabetically in the second half. By the way, did you know that ярый is the 10,000th most frequently used word? :-) Nicholas Brown, the author, says that a learner who knows all or most of these 10,000 words can be regarded as competent in Russian for all normal purposes.
This is another fascinating book that I love to read for fun as well as enlightenment.
It takes roots of a Russian word like дум, then lists a bunch of words that evolved from that root like дума (thought, meditation), думать (to think), выдумать (to invent, devise), задумчивость (thoughtfulness, musing), обдумать (to think, to consider), придумать (to devise, concoct, invent) and also gives sentences with each example, so that you can see the context, which is critical for the language learner. I often memorize the example sentences to help remember the word. Very interesting and not very expensive. As always, just click on the image to go buy this book at Amazon.
This is a very cool book for learning Russian. As it says on the Amazon page:
Twelve superb tales by Chekhov, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Pushkin, Bunin, other masters. Excellent word-for-word English translations on facing pages. Also teaching and practice aids, Russian-English vocabulary, biographical/critical introductions to each selection, study questions, more. Especially helpful are the stress accents in the Russian text, usually found only in primers.
They forgot to mention Gogol. It includes his story “The Nose”, which has always been one of my favorites.
Of course everyone needs a Russian-English dictionary, no matter what level you are at, and I particularly like this one. From the Amazon description:
Based on American rather than British English, this is among the first Russian dictionaries revised for the post-Soviet era. Includes new political terminology, new Russian institutions, new countries and republics and new city names. Contains 26,000 entries in the English-Russian section and 40,000 words in the Russian-English section. Irregularities in Russian declensions and conjugations appear at the beginning of each entry.
As always, click on the image to be taken directly to the Amazon page.
This book was recommended to me when I first started teaching myself Russian. I looked through it at the store and thought, “Hmmm, I already speak English. Why do I need a book on English Grammar?”, but I went ahead and bought it (it was so cheap at Amazon!). And while I don’t use it often, it has really helped me a lot on the occasions that I have needed it. Most people who write books on Russian grammar are academics who assume that we were paying attention in English class. :-) But seriously, this is an excellent book, well worth the price, because it’s not just a book of English grammar. It’s more a comparative grammar book. So even if you know what a predicate adjective is, you can use this to clarify in your mind how predicate adjectives work in Russian.
This is one of the first books I bought when I was trying to teach myself Russian. One of the things that I really like about it are the excellent examples. This can be so frustrating in so many textbooks, where the examples don’t illustrate all the genders, for example. I think that because it is meant to be a self-teaching book, the quantity and quality of the examples was critical to it’s success. I’m in my second year of studying Russian at UCLA and even now I go back to this book and read through it for fun and inevitably I find something that I didn’t know, or something that I kind of understood that this book makes clearer to me. The only down side to this book as a self-teaching guide is the lack of an enclosed CD, however, I’ve not been thrilled with the books that I’ve tried that did include CDs. For listening practice, I’m much more inclined to purchase one of the CD sets.
Ok, this book won’t help you with your language studies, but it’s a beautiful new translation of one of the finest novels written in the Russian language. This translation takes an entirely new approach. The translators, Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, the best-selling, award-winning translators of Anna Karenina and The Brothers Karamazov give us what will certainly be the definitive English language edition.
“Stunning….Pevear and Volokhonsky have mastered Tolstoy’s shorter lines, his elliptical impressions.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review