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The Best Books To Learn Russian – Our 10 Top Picks for All Levels

September 8, 2022
Renán L. CuervoRenán L. Cuervo

Are you looking for books to learn Russian? In this article, we’ll go over our top picks of Russian textbooks and show you how they can be effective learning tools.

 

So, looking for books to learn Russian?

It’s hard to deny how effective and useful a good language book can be. But with so many options out there, it can be hard to choose the right one. 

We’ve compiled a list of our favorite Russian books, as well as some tips and tricks to get the most out of these learning resources. You can jump straight to our top picks here. 

After you’re done with this article, check out our guide to the Best Way to Learn Russian for some more effective tips. And remember, the Fluent Forever app and Live Coaching program offer the best tried-and-tested method to learn Russian fast. Download the app and sign up for Live Coaching here.

 

A wall of open books

So many books! So little time!
Photo by Kerttu from Pixabay


What should you expect from a good Russian language book?

Nowadays, you can find Russian textbooks in different formats: audio, digital, or print. Whatever you choose, it needs to serve as a trustworthy link between you and learning Russian.

Besides that, there are other things the book should do for your language learning success: 

1. Teach you core vocabulary

The book should show you the most frequently used vocabulary in Russian. There’s no point in choosing a textbook that focuses on overly specific, outdated, or rarely used words and phrases.

Additionally, the vocab should be organized in a context-specific way. In other words, it should show you how, when, and why to use each term. Bonus points if it considers the relevant cultural context.  

Lastly, the textbook should teach you words in the context of sentences and Russian grammar.

2. Reinforce knowledge through practical exercises

The best books to learn Russian include practical and engaging exercises. For this reason, most textbooks come with a workbook and answer sheet.

Some books contain lots of writing practice, while others focus on speaking exercises. Regardless, you should get lots of opportunities to practice Russian. 

3. Provide guidance and create a learning habit

One of the most valuable things a Russian language book can offer is the motivation to continue learning. Every chapter should teach you something new about the language and get you hyped up to study frequently.


The benefits of learning Russian with books

The need and demand to learn foreign languages have created an entire industry of software, apps, courses, and books. But why do people insist on learning with books when there are so many choices?

The truth is there are many benefits a good textbook offers. Here are some of those perks.

1. Something for every level

There are books available for every learning level: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. In many cases, editorials will explore familiar vocabulary, exercises, and subjects through book series, increasing the degree of difficulty at each level.

2. Affordable options

The price range of these resources is wide. Your choice doesn’t need to be the most expensive one – you can always buy something that suits your budget.

3. No strings attached

Beyond paying for the book, there isn’t a significant commitment required to reach the last page. If you’re not enjoying the book you bought, you can always choose a new one. Don’t forget to keep the receipt, in case the seller has a return policy! 

4. Visual and practical resource

Most books will include useful and engaging drawings, images, graphs, and tables. This is great, considering our brains tend to retain information better through memorable visuals.


How to get the most out of your Russian textbook

After you buy the textbook, you should start flipping through the pages ASAP. However, do it effectively! These next tips will help you get the most out of your brand-new book.

1. Start with the basics

First, begin with the basics before you move to intermediate and advanced subjects. Start with the Cyrillic alphabet, move to frequently used vocabulary, and then get to grammar and speaking practice.

It might be tempting to skip chapters and move to more exciting or challenging subjects, but you’ll benefit more by creating a solid foundation to build up your Russian!

2. Read children’s language books

Simple, visual, and easy to read, children’s language books are fantastic options for beginners. After all, Russian children use them, and they all eventually become native speakers!

3. Use audio for pronunciation

Make sure your textbook comes with an audio complement to be able to hear how words and phrases are pronounced. If your book doesn’t come with audio support, use Forvo or YouTube to learn to pronounce vocabulary and sentences correctly.  

4. Find ways to practice speaking

Books will only take you so far when it comes to reaching fluency. You see, speaking is a skill of its own. Make sure to actually practice talking in Russian besides poring over your book.

An effective and practical way to do this is with Forever’s Live Coaching program. Here’s how it works: We pair you up with your very own native Russian speaker who’s certified in our proven language teaching method. Next, your language coach creates engaging sessions based on your interests, hobbies, and fluency goals. 

That means you won’t be chatting it up about random subjects, but rather about topics you find interesting, which motivates you to speak more and more. Sign up for Coaching right here.

 

A child sits inside a library, flipping a book

We all start somewhere…
Photo by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay


The 10 best Russian learning books

Without further ado, here are our top 10 picks of the best books to learn Russian, grouped according to learner level.

Beginner

1. Master the Russian Alphabet

The Cyrillic alphabet tends to be the most intimidating aspect of Russian for native English speakers. Master the Russian Alphabet is a great resource for beginners looking to learn this essential aspect of the language easily and effectively.

Learning points:

  • The Cyrillic alphabet
  • Handwriting exercises for the upper and lower variations of each letter in both print and cursive versions
  • Simple pronunciation guidelines for each letter and common syllables

2. 2000 Most Common Russian Words in Context

Knowing the most frequently used vocabulary is a great way to learn a language fast. After you’re done with our list of the 625 most frequently used words, you can expand your vocab arsenal with 2000 Most Common Russian Words in Context. 

Learning points:

  • Relevant and commonly used Russian words, English translations included
  • Words used in memorable contexts and useful sentences
  • Spelling and pronunciation guidelines

3. Illustrated Russian Grammar

Most language learners dread the G word. However, this tends to happen because the resources they use aren’t focused enough on grammar; rather, they brush over it. Illustrated Russian Grammar zeros in on Russian grammar with illustrative and memorable examples.

Learning points:

  • Russian grammar rules with infographics, tables, and illustrations
  • All the key points of Russian grammar covered
  • Practical and engaging exercises
  • Great for self-study or as a complement to other books

4. Complete Russian (Beginner to Intermediate Course)

Complete Russian (Beginner to Intermediate Course) is an exhaustive book that covers every aspect of the language – reading, writing, listening, and speaking. 

Learning points:

  • Extensive phrase and vocabulary lists
  • Grammar explanations and exercises
  • Sample sentences embedded in relevant cultural contexts
  • Tips and tricks to make learning Russian faster and easier
  • Tests to track your progress
  • Speaking exercises through relevant recordings

Intermediate

5. Short Stories in Russian for Beginners

Short stories are among the most fun ways to learn your target language. Short Stories in Russian for Beginners is an excellent book to build on the Russian you’ve already learned. 

Learning points:

  • 8 short stories from different genres 
  • Real-life dialogues and conversations
  • Stories using 1,000 of the most frequently used Russian words
  • Intuitive grammar lessons through the narrative

6. A Comprehensive Russian Grammar (4th Edition)

A Comprehensive Russian Grammar is an exhaustive guide to using the Russian language. The book offers detailed explanations of the most complex bits of Russian: numerals, verb conjugations, tenses, and adjective forms.

Learning points:

  • Explanations tailored to English speakers
  • Verb conjugation tables 
  • Friendly approach to Russian grammar
  • Glossary of grammatical terms, word and subject indexes

7. Russian Tutor: Grammar and Vocabulary Workbook

If you’re interested in self-learning with a detailed textbook, Russian Tutor: Grammar and Vocabulary Workbook might be a good option for you.

Learning points:

  • 200+ activities to reinforce grammar and broaden vocabulary
  • Illustrations and infographics as visual explanations for concepts
  • Tips and tricks for specific grammar rules and exceptions
  • Reading and writing practice

8. Russian: From Intermediate to Advanced

Russian: From Intermediate to Advanced is made up of 10 chapters that are geared towards getting you to the next level on your Russian language journey.

Learning points:

  • Wide array of Russian texts that include blog posts, forums, and opinion pieces paired with assignments per text
  • Authentic, up-to-date video and audio excerpts about Russian politics, society, and economy
  • Focus on developing a learner’s reading and listening skills
  • Free companion website with detailed tips and exercise videos 

Advanced

9. V Puti: Russian Grammar in Context (2nd edition)

Russian grammar is one of the language’s most complicated elements to master. V Puti: Russian Grammar in Context tries to teach this tricky skill through relevant, real-life texts and examples.

Learning points:

  • Exercises and chapters based on relevant and everyday conversations
  • Detailed explanations with real-life examples

10.  Advanced Russian Through History

For all of the history buffs out there, Advanced Russian Through History teaches advanced grammar and vocabulary through Russia’s most important historical events.

Learning points:

  • Chapters based on Russian history, from the Kievan Czars to the post-Soviet era
  • Written and web-based review exercises

And while you’re at it, you might want to check out Amazon’s Top Russian Books List, which includes Russian fiction and non-fiction options.


How to learn Russian fast

Beyond relying solely on your Russian textbook, try to introduce other learning resources and techniques. For instance, below are a few things you can do when you’re not using your Russian textbook.

Consume Russian media

In your free time, consume as much Russian media as possible. From Russian movies and TV series, to podcasts and music, every bit of Russian throughout your day will boost your studies. 

Practice with native speakers

Native speakers offer native-level pronunciation, immediate feedback, and new vocabulary. Therefore, you should connect with native speakers through online language exchanges or local community centers. Alternatively, MeetUp and MyLanguageExchange are two sites that make finding an online language buddy a bit easier. 

Use effective software and apps

Lastly, you can also support your studies with a language software or app. Luckily, you’ll find many different options – just make sure you choose something that’s actually effective. 

For instance, unlike most apps, the Fluent Forever app does cover Russian pronunciation. By training your ears to understand Russian sounds, you’re able to pick up vocabulary faster. 

Secondly, the app teaches you the most frequently used Russian vocabulary through flashcards, relying on personalized, meaningful images and zero translations. Consequently, this approach allows you to learn words faster and retain them for longer, as flashcards with custom images create stronger and more memorable connections.

Thirdly, our app uses the same flashcards to teach you Russian grammar through sentences using words you already know. You can read more about our app and the methodology it follows here

That’s it for today! We hope this article will help you choose the best Russian language book for you.

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