Your day-to-day life is hectic.
You have a job. You take care of your baby (or fur-baby). You have a social life. Maybe you haven’t even had time to catch up on the newest seasons of “Stranger Things” or “Veronica Mars” yet.
Question: How can you possibly fit Russian language study into your busy schedule?
Answer: By listening to Russian audiobooks.
Strapping on a set of headphones and playing an audiobook makes it possible to study Russian while you complete other tasks. And in the age of hustle culture, the ability to multitask truly is a gift.
Listen to Russian audiobooks while you drive to work in the morning, jog around the block, clean your kitchen or take your fur-baby for a walk.
Yep, it’s easy to fit Russian listening practice into your daily routine. But first, you have to select the first book to download.
Types of Russian Audiobooks
Russian Literature Available as Audiobooks
Russia has provided the world with some of the most renowned authors of all time: Gogol, Tolstoy, Pushkin and Dostoevsky, just to name a few. Did you ever read “Crime and Punishment” or “War and Peace” in high school?
Now imagine being able to read those titles in Russian!
By reading these books in their original language, you can experience famous literary works as they were originally meant to be read. There are certain phrases a translation simply can’t capture.
Maybe you aren’t ready to jump into the minds of some of the most complex writers in history. There are plenty of other Russian stories for lower-level learners. Even if you just listen to a short Russian fairy tale, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in Russian culture in a brand new way.
Other Language Audiobooks Translated into Russian
There are some unique benefits to other language audiobooks, especially English if you’re a native English speaker, that have been translated into Russian.
If you listen to a story you’re already familiar with in your language, following along with the Russian version might be easier. If you miss a word here and there, you may have an easier time filling in the gaps if you already know the story.
Choosing a genre you already like in your native language can help you stay engaged. For example, if you love reading self-help books in your free time, then “The 5 Love Languages” (listed below) should hold your attention and motivate you to learn the Russian vocabulary you hear.
Where to Find Russian Audiobooks
Free Russian Audiobook Resources
- Internet Archive. This is an online library of audiobooks, print books, music and more. It’s basically the ultimate resource for finding learning material on any topic! You’ll find original Russian audiobooks and ones that have been translated.
- All for Children. This is a great site for accessing short, simple audiobooks, making it an ideal resource for novice Russian learners. All for Children provides Russian audiobooks in a variety of genres, and you’ll find a mix of original Russian stories and ones that have been translated from other languages.
- Audioknigi Club. This is another resource that offers both original Russian books and ones that have been translated into Russian. Audioknigi Club breaks audiobooks up into sections, making it easy to turn even 1,000-page novels into bite-sized lessons.
- LibriVox. This website lists books that are free public domain. You can download both printed books and audiobooks, making it a great resource to build on multiple language skills. LibriVox offers around 80 Russian audiobooks, recorded by volunteers.
Paid Russian Audiobook Resources
- Amazon/Audible. It’s no surprise that Amazon is a great place to find Russian audiobooks at a low price. But here’s the thing: Depending on how you play your cards, you might even be able to access an audiobook for free.
Let’s say you find a Russian book on Amazon you want to listen to. If you sign up for a 30-day free trial with Audible, you can access the audiobook at no cost. Just try to finish the book within 30 days! But if you want an Audible subscription so you can access Amazon audiobooks whenever you want, you’ll have to pay for it monthly.
- Red Kalinka. This online Russian language school features over 40 audiobooks. Some of these books are tailored to learners and filled with short stories and dialogues. Red Kalinka also offers a few intermediate- and advanced-level classic Russian works, such as “Tales” by Anton Chekhov and a series of short stories by Alexander Pushkin.
Russian Audiobooks: 10 Titles to Keep You Listening and Learning for Hours
Russian Literature Available as Audiobooks
Listening to Russian audiobooks as an absolute beginner may seem impossible. But it isn’t! The “Russian Stories with Audio” series starts at the A1 level, which is for true beginners.
This audiobook option is different from the others on this list because the stories aren’t exactly classic works of Russian literature. However, each story is written by a Russian teacher. This audiobook is a great first option for novice learners who want to start slow before listening to their first full-length audiobook. You have to learn to walk before you can run!
When you purchase this package, you’ll access seven short stories about a boy named Patrick. He’s going through common experiences, such as riding the metro and hanging out with his friends. This audiobook will introduce you to common, practical Russian vocabulary related to transportation, seasons, apartments, friends and more.
A lot of the Russian audiobooks on this list are simply books without any learning material. “Russian Stories with Audio” is different. Along with the audiobook, you’ll receive a printed book with English translations. If you want the downloadable version, you’ll have access to the audio, a printable PDF of the stories, a version for Kindle and an e-book.
All these additional resources make the book fantastic for beginners who need a hand getting the most out of their first Russian audiobook. If you like the A1 book, check out more advanced levels of the “Russian Stories with Audio” series; they offer books all the way up to the B2 level, which are for upper-intermediate learners.
This Russian folktale tells the story of a teremok, or a small, wooden house in the woods. Throughout the story, several animals find the house and seek shelter there. Finally, a huge bear visits the house, crushes it, and all the animals have to find new homes.
What’s the moral of the story? I have no idea. But if you figure it out, please tell me.
Novice Russian language students will love this audiobook. It uses a rhyming pattern and plenty of repetition to help you familiarize yourself with the Russian words for several animals, such as Лягушка (frog) and Петух (rooster). You’ll also hear common verbs with various conjugations, mostly in the present tense.
All for Children’s website provides a transcript to accompany the audiobook, which is useful for improving your reading skills and following along if the listening is a little difficult.
“Капитанская дочка” (“The Captian’s Daughter”) by Alexander Pushkin
This classic novel was written by one of the most famous Russian authors and poets of all time, Alexander Pushkin. The story takes place during Pugachev’s Rebellion in the late 1700s, which was one of the biggest revolts in Russian history. In the book, a teenage boy named Pyotr Andreyich Grinyov leaves home to join the Russian army in its fight against the rebels.
While this book contains a lot of information about war, ultimately, it’s a love story between Pyotr and his Captain’s daughter, Masha. Their romance contains more twists and turns than the one between Chuck and Blair on “Gossip Girl,” so emotionally prepare yourself before you press “play.”
The plotline and vocabulary are a bit advanced. Due to the age and theme of the book, you’ll hear words you probably haven’t learned in a Russian language class, such as крестьянский (peasant), бунт (rebellion), изменник (traitor) and крепость (fortress).
“The Captain’s Daughter” is only a fraction of the length of the next two classics on this list. It’s probably a good fit for upper-intermediate or advanced students because while it can be difficult at times, it’s a relatively short book.
The audiobook is split into 14 sections, each ranging from four minutes to a little over 30 minutes in length. These sections make it easy to break your listening session into snippets.
“Анна Каренина” (“Anna Karenina”) by Leo Tolstoy
“Anna Karenina” is more than just a movie starring Keira Knightley and Jude Law. It’s a book about expectations in Imperial Russian society.
Anna Karenina is married to a Russian imperial minister, but she’s having an affair with a cavalry officer. This audiobook is ideal for near-fluent Russian speakers, because there are numerous subplots involving different characters in the story, and hearing rather than reading all these names can make the tale confusing.
This is one of Tolstoy’s most famous works, and it’s one of the most popular Russian books to date. Listening to “Anna Karenina” in its original language is a truly unique experience that any Russian student should take pride in.
When you listen to this audiobook, you’ll learn a lot about Russian Imperialism, an era that lasted from the late 1800s to 1917. You’ll hear government-related vocabulary that was relevant in the late 1800s and remains useful today, such as аристократ (aristocrat), граф (count)/графиня (countess), имущество (estate) and общественность (society).
“Война и мир” (“War and Peace”) by Leo Tolstoy
Yep, another novel by Tolstoy! “War and Peace” revolves around Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion of Russia in the early 1800s and how this invasion affected people of different classes in society.
Like “Anna Karenina,” this story can be difficult to follow simply because there are so many characters. It has the potential to be an even more difficult listen than “Anna Karenina” because the writing becomes very philosophical as the tale progresses. Still, you’ll follow some of the most famous characters of all time as they fall in love, fight in battles and wrestle with self-identity.
As you might have guessed, you’ll learn Russian words related to war, such as солдат (soldier), армия (army) and оккупировать (invade). However, you’ll also pick up vocabulary about love, family, class and government. You’ll hear some of the same government-related words you’d find in “Anna Karenina,” so listening to that book before “War and Peace” could make this read a little easier.
The real kicker of listening to this audiobook is that you’ll have to pay attention to more than one language. Because the story centers around the French invasion of Russia, chunks of the text are in French. You can see why listening to this book is no easy task! Take this one on for a challenge.
English-language Books Translated into Russian
Want to break your listening session into tiny chunks? Then this is the perfect audiobook for you.
“Aesop’s Fables in Russian” introduces the reader to 39 short stories. I’m talking really short—each tale is recited in under two minutes. That makes this Russian audiobook perfect for beginners.
You’re sure to find some fables you’re familiar with, such as “Ворон и Лисица” (“The Fox and the Raven”) and “Бык и Жаба” (“The Frog and the Ox”). However, with 39 fables to choose from, you’re also likely to find a few that are new to you. For instance, I’d never heard of “Старик и смерть” (“The Old Man and Death”).
While a few of Aesop’s fables feature humans, they’re mostly based around animals. That makes this audio series perfect for learning the Russian terms for common animals.
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“Short Stories in Russian for Beginners” by Olly Richards
What’s better than a Russian audiobook? A Russian audiobook with additional learning materials.
Unlike the other translated audiobooks on this list, “Short Stories in Russian for Beginners” was specifically created for people learning Russian. You’ll have access to a bilingual word list, plot summary and comprehension questions for each story. These supplemental materials make it possible to turn listening to an audiobook into a full Russian language lesson.
As the title suggests, this audiobook is geared toward beginners, ranging from A2 to B1 language levels. When you’re a beginner, it can help to break listening material into short sections. That’s why short stories are so handy! They’ll keep you from becoming overwhelmed.
“Short Stories in Russian for Beginners” includes eight stories of various genres.
If you’re a fan of Olly Richards and want to learn more through him, you might also enjoy the I Will Teach You a Language courses, Foundations and Grammar Hero. Both are meant to set you up with a strong foundation in Russian that’ll help you master the language as you progress in your studies.
“Гадкий утенок” (“The Ugly Duckling”) by Hans Christian Andersen
I don’t know about you, but I must have heard the tale of “The Ugly Duckling” dozens of times, and I could probably recite the story from memory. That makes this Russian audiobook ideal for beginners, because it’ll probably be relatively easy for you to follow along.
Although the story is simple, this audiobook runs at over 25 minutes. The length can make this one a tad challenging, but you can break it up into sections if you don’t have that time or you feel overwhelmed.
This story is a goldmine for basic Russian vocabulary. You’ll learn animal-related vocabulary, such as утка (duck), лебедь (swan) and гусь (goose). You’ll also pick up adjectives regarding appearance, verbs and colors. (Remember, all the other ducklings are yellow and the Ugly Duckling is gray, but then he becomes a white swan!)
“Сумеречная сага” (“The Twilight Saga”) by Stephenie Meyer
Ah, remember the days of “Twilight?” Edward vs. Jacob and life in Forks, Washington? Good times. You probably never thought you’d be listening to this book in Russian, did you?
If you’ve read this book or watched the film in English, you might get a kick out of listening to the Russian audiobook. And isn’t it easier to stick with studying Russian when you’re actually having fun?
Internet Archive splits “Twilight” up by chapter, so you can break up your listening into chunks that typically last from 30-45 minutes.
This is a great audiobook for upper intermediate to advanced learners because you’re going to learn some specialized vocabulary. Prepare to pick up unique words related to the supernatural, such as вампир (vampire), оборотень (werewolf) and сборище (coven).
On the other hand, because the main characters attend a normal, human high school, you’ll also pick up a ton of school-related vocabulary such as бал (dance), кафетерий (cafeteria) and класс (classroom).
When it comes to learning vocabulary, you really get the best of both worlds with “Twilight!”
“5 языков любви: Как выразить любовь вашему спутнику” (“The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts”) by Gary Chapman
Maybe you’ve heard of the five love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, physical touch and gifts.
Gary Chapman believes that everyone speaks one of these five languages, and the secret to communicating in a relationship is understanding how your significant other shows and receives love. In fact, the Russian subtitle can be literally translated as “How to Express Love to Your Companion.”
If you like books in the self-help genre, this Russian audiobook could hold your attention. It’s definitely good for advanced learners, so if you’re an intermediate student or advanced learner who needs a little assistance, you might consider buying the print book in Russian from Amazon along with the audiobook.
“The 5 Love Languages” will teach you vocabulary related to love and relationships. Upper-intermediate learners will learn relationship-specific language such as брак (marriage), развод (divorce) and пара (couple).
However, as we all know, love isn’t simple. And neither is the language used to describe love! Advanced students will pick up plenty of unique vocabulary from this Russian audiobook.
How can you put those 20 minutes you’ll spend driving to work tomorrow to good use? By listening to a Russian audiobook!
Now the only question remaining is: Which of these 10 Russian audiobooks will you listen to first?
Laura Grace Tarpley is a freelance writer based in Nashville. She writes about language learning, travel and personal finance. Follow her on Twitter @lgtarpley.
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