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Top 10 classic Russian books to get you in the mood for the Sochi Olympics

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As the Winter Olympics begin in Sochi, Russia, pick up one (or all) of these classics of Russian literature.

"The Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov": With an effortless style, Chekhov conveys the Russian soul beautifully.

"Eugene Onegin" by Alexander Pushkin: This classic with its unforgettable characters is a novel in verse. Don’t let the rhyme scheme through you off, it’s a devastating read.

"The Brothers Karamazov" by Fyodor Dostoevsky: If you have time between Olympic events, this lengthy tome, somewhere between 800 and 960 pages depending on the edition you pick up, is arguably the best novel about four brothers and patricide ever written.

"A Month in the Country" by Ivan Turgenev: Desperate housewives, 19th century Russian edition. Well, one desperate housewife is featured in this comedy of manners, but she gets into enough trouble to tide you over between figure skating events or during commercial breaks in Olympic coverage.

"One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" by Alexander Solzhenitsyn: Few people went to the gulags and lived to tell the tale. Solzhenitsyn was one of those and his powerful story of survival makes you appreciate living in a free country.

"Anna Karenina" by Leo Tolstoy: Yes, it’s long, and yes, you’ve probably seen a movie version or two, or three, but it’s Russian and it’s dramatic and you need to read it.

"War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy: Start reading now and you might make a dent in Tolstoy’s epic before the closing ceremonies.

"Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoevsky: Not the most lighthearted of tales, but gripping nonetheless. Raskolnikov unravels after committing a heinous crime.

"Doctor Zhivago" by Boris Pasternak: David Lean’s epic film adaptation with that evocative score by Maurice Jarre is sort of faithful to the novel, but pick up the book and enjoy the romance and in depth look at the Russian Revolution and its aftermath for yourself.

"The Idiot" by Fyodor Dostoevsky: Another Dostoevsky novel, yes. He’s that good. This one finds Prince Myshkin, naïve and just out of a Swiss sanatorium, thrust into the drama of St. Petersburg society.

All these books are available online, at your favorite booksellers and in your local library. Look for translations by David Magarshack and new translations by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky where available.

Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov
Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov Goodreads.com

Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov

The Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov: With an effortless style, Chekhov conveys the Russian soul beautifully. The translation is by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. Those familiar with Chekhov's plays will recognize the subtlety and appreciate the observations of Russian life.

Eugene Onegin by Pushkin
Eugene Onegin by Pushkin Goodreads.com

Eugene Onegin by Pushkin

This classic with its unforgettable characters is a novel in verse. Don’t let the rhyme scheme through you off, it’s a devastating read. Opera buffs will note the opera version was recently performed at the Met.

The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky
The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky Goodreads.com

The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky

If you have time between Olympic events, this lengthy tome, somewhere between 800 and 960 pages depending on the edition you pick up, is arguably the best novel about four brothers and patricide ever written.

A Month in the Country by Turgenev
A Month in the Country by Turgenev Goodreads.com

A Month in the Country by Turgenev

Desperate housewives, 19th century Russian edition. Well, one desperate housewife is featured in this comedy of manners, but she gets into enough trouble to tide you over between figure skating events or during commercial breaks in Olympic coverage.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Solzhenitsyn
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Solzhenitsyn Goodreads.com

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Solzhenitsyn

Few people went to the gulags and lived to tell the tale. Solzhenitsyn was one of those and his powerful story of survival makes you appreciate living in a free country.

Anna Karenina by Tolstoy
Anna Karenina by Tolstoy Goodreads.com

Anna Karenina by Tolstoy

Yes, it’s long, and yes, you’ve probably seen a movie version or two, or three, but it’s Russian and it’s dramatic and you need to read it to truly appreciate Tolstoy.

War and Peace by Tolstoy
War and Peace by Tolstoy Goodreads.com

War and Peace by Tolstoy

Start reading now and you might make a dent in Tolstoy’s epic before the closing ceremonies. Though as famous as it is for its length, the book is a compelling read.

Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky
Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky Goodreads.com

Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky

Not the most lighthearted of tales, but gripping nonetheless. Raskolnikov unravels after committing a heinous crime taking the reader along on the journey.

Doctor Zhivago by Pasternak
Doctor Zhivago by Pasternak Goodreads.com

Doctor Zhivago by Pasternak

David Lean’s epic film adaptation with that evocative score by Maurice Jarre is sort of faithful to the novel, but pick up the book and enjoy the romance and in depth look at the Russian Revolution and its aftermath for yourself.

The Idiot by Dostoevsky
The Idiot by Dostoevsky Goodreads.com

The Idiot by Dostoevsky

Another Dostoevsky novel, yes. He’s that good. This one finds Prince Myshkin, naïve and just out of a Swiss sanatorium, thrust into the drama of St. Petersburg society.

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