01 War and Peace Leo Tolstoy
Considered by some to be the greatest novel ever written, Tolstoy’s masterpiece is set during Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812. Packed with a rich cast of wonderful characters, its brilliance lies in the combination of small-scale family matters with exhaustive accounts of war and politics.
02 Doctor Zhivago Boris Pasternak
A tale of love, loss and struggle for survival during the Russian Revolution, Pasternak’s classic may be the most sublime love story ever written. More than a just a simple tale of the relationship between main protagonists Yuri and Lara, it offers readers a fascinating insight into early twentieth-century Rusia.
03 The Brothers Karamazov Fyodor Dostoyevsky
A passionate, philosophical novel set in nineteenth-century Russia, The Brothers Karamazv is Dostoyevsky’s largest, most ambitious piece of work. Completed just a few months before the author’s death, this part murder-mystery, part exploration of faith is filled with memorable scenes and profound reflections.
04 A Hero of our Time Mikhail Lermontov
A brilliant precursor to the great Russian novels of the nineteenth century, this is the story of Pechorin (the anti-hero of the title), a Russian officer posted to the Caucasus. Lermontov’s writing delivers wondrously evocative descriptions of the Caucasus region.
05 Russia Jonathan Dimbleby
Based on a 10,000-mile journey the author made from Murmansk to Vladivostok in 2007, this 500-page tome is big, bold and beautifully written. It’s an essential read for those looking to learn more about one of the world’s most fascinating —yet least understood — countries.
Read more about Tolstoy’s St Petersburg in the June 2016 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)