The 11 Best Russian Audiobook Resources and 17 Highly Recommended Titles
There are two main components to learning a language: audiovisual and textual.
Audio is a great way to learn by hearing how natives use their language in speech. As for text, Russian novels, articles, blogs and learning books will most definitely help you improve all your language skills.
But how can you combine the convenience of audio with the learning power of books?
Audiobooks are the answer, and they’ll let you take several paths at once!
- Why Listen to Russian Audiobooks?
- Russian Audiobook Resources
- How to Ease into Learning with Audiobooks
- Russian Audiobook Recommendations
- Everyday Russian for Beginners
- Russian Stories with Audio: Level A1 Book 1
- Short Stories in Russian for Beginners
- The Express Russian YouTube Channel
- Aesop’s Fables
- The Master and Margarita
- War and Peace
- Child Care: The Main Rules
- Crime and Punishment
- Rich Dad Poor Dad
- Atlas Shrugged
- The Bible
- Капитанская дочка (The Captian’s Daughter)
- Анна Каренина (Anna Karenina)
- Гадкий утенок (The Ugly Duckling)
- 5 языков любви: Как выразить любовь вашему спутнику” (The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts)
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)
Why Listen to Russian Audiobooks?
Russian audiobooks are convenient. Unlike paper copies of books, you can enjoy an audiobook anywhere. Whether you are driving or working out, you can also drive forward your learning and work out your Russian skills.
If that is not enough to get you hooked, Russian audiobooks are entertaining. Everyone enjoys a good plot! And with so many options, you are sure to find a Russian audiobook you will enjoy. Enjoying listening to the audiobook will make learning Russian that much sweeter.
Best of all, Russian audiobooks provide you with multiple learning options. You can use just the audio, or you can find a corresponding Russian text to read along in Russian. If you aren’t as confident in your Russian skills, you can also read the English-language version ahead of time so that you already understand the plot of the book and can focus entirely on the language. This versatility makes Russian audiobooks a great tool for any learner. Just choose the route you are most comfortable with!
If you’re sold on the usefulness of audiobooks for your language learning purposes, great! Even one audiobook can get you hooked on learning more Russian.
Russian Audiobook Resources
LibriVox is a website dedicated to providing free audiobooks for works in the public domain. Since they have volunteers all over the world, many of these audiobooks are available in several languages, including Russian.
To access Russian-language audiobooks, go to their catalog and click the “Language” tab. Then, click “Russian” to choose from over 60 Russian-language audiobooks. You can listen online or download the audiobooks to a mobile device.
Audible is a subscription-based audiobook service from Amazon. For about $15 a month, it provides a wide selection of audiobooks, including Russian-language audiobooks. With their free app, you can listen from any mobile device.
To find their Russian-language content, use the “Browse Audible” drop down menu to access the “Foreign Language” category. Scroll down to “Russian Language Best Sellers” and click “See All” to view over 2000 Russian audiobook options.
Yes, your favorite place to watch adorable cat videos can also provide you with terrific Russian-language audiobooks.
Just search “аудиокнига” (audiobook) or “audio kniga” for a wide selection of Russian-language audiobooks accessible via YouTube’s website.
Audiobooks.com is a subscription service that allots you one audiobook per month for a $14.95 subscription. Just download the app to stream from your mobile device.
Since there is no separate category for Russian language titles, the fastest way to find them is by searching “Russian.” Then, browse through the pages to find books you might be interested in. The easiest way to see at a glance if they are actually in Russian is by looking at the title page. If it is in Russian, the audiobook is too.
Audiobooks in Russian
Audiobooks in Russian is an app available through iTunes. While it is free to download, accessing audiobooks requires in-app purchases.
There are over 1000 audiobooks available, including books on economics, psychology and humor. Even the popular “50 Shades of Grey” series is available if that’s your thing. The selection is diverse, so there is something for every level of language learner.
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.
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.
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.
Works of Boris Karlov
This website provides the text and audio for a number of authentic Russian short stories and books penned by the Russian writer Boris Karlov, including the timeless adventures of Карлуша (Karlusha).
To hear the audiobooks, click on the аудиокнига (audiobook) link. The audio is split into segments and can be played right in your browser. For the accompanying text, click the PDF, TXT or FB2 links.
This website hosts a number of classic literary works, including stories by the famous А. С. Пушкин (A.S. Pushkin), who was known for his epic narrative poetry and distinct style. The authors on this website are an integral part of Russian culture and its rich literary history.
That does mean the language is dated and can be difficult to follow. If you’d like to tackle one of these, it might help to read an English version first to familiarize yourself with the text before taking on the audiobook/text combo.
Text is provided in-browser (just click the links on the left to get started) while the audio is available within the browser or as a download.
Russian for Free
The collections on the Russian for Free website are meant to be used by learners. The short stories and nonfiction segments are presented in both English and Russian side-by-side for ease of use.
Audio is played right in the browser and the readings for all levels are slow, focusing on clear enunciation, so any level of learner should be able to keep up without a problem.
How to Ease into Learning with Audiobooks
Audiobooks can improve two skills at once, but they can be tricky. If you struggle with listening or reading Russian, it’s easy to become confused while using audiobooks.
If you don’t feel like you’re ready to sit down and listen to a 300-page book, start smaller. You can look for video stories or cartoons that include Russian subtitles, like Чебурашка (Cheburashka), a popular Russian cartoon. You’ll still listen and read, but you’ll also be able to watch and have the benefit of more context clues.
The FluentU program is one place where you can get all the benefits of authentic Russian, along with expert-vetted Russian subtitles. You can toggle English subtitles on or off as well—or turn of all the subtitles entirely and focus on your listening skills.
FluentU’s subtitles let you check contextual meanings at a click and add words to flashcard decks, so you can build your vocabulary as you watch and listen. Video and flashcard review quizzes add another layer of learning, testing your comprehension while updating the questions based on how you’re doing.
FluentU is available for the browser and for iOS and Android devices, so it’s just as mobile as audiobooks.
Listening to content and having a video to give you context clues can train your listening and improve your skills before you jump into big audiobooks.
Russian Audiobook Recommendations
Everyday Russian for Beginners
Publisher: Innovative Language Learning
This audiobook is aimed squarely at beginning Russian learners. If you want to learn Russian in a more traditional style but don’t want to use a textbook, this audiobook will help you get the basics down through listening and repetition.
Russian Stories with Audio: Level A1 Book 1
Publisher: Red Kalinka
The “Russian Stories with Audio” series starts at the A1 level and 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’ll get seven short stories about a boy named Patrick and learn common, practical Russian vocabulary.
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.
Short Stories in Russian for Beginners
Author: Olly Richards
“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.
As the title suggests, this audiobook is geared toward beginners, ranging from A2 to B1 language levels. “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.
The Express Russian YouTube Channel
Click “Playlists,” scroll down and you’ll find one entitled “Russian Audiobooks with Text.” The tales here are short and include stories you may know, including works from Greek myths, the Brothers Grimm, Rudyard Kipling and even classic children’s fairy tales.
For a more cultural experience, check out the stories by (of course) Pushkin and “Telephone” by К. И. Чуковский (K. I. Chukovsky), a wonderfully Seussian rhyming short story that’s recited by Russian children to this day.
This classic set of children’s stories is a good option for beginning and intermediate Russian students.
Each story is relatively brief which makes them more approachable than longer works. Plus, given the number of animal stories, it will certainly help reinforce animal names for any beginning Russian student.
Author: Leo Tolstoy
“Childhood” is Tolstoy’s first published novel, though it is largely autobiographical. It is the story of the young son of a landowner as he grows up in 19th-century Russia.
Given Tolstoy’s important role in Russian literature, this is an important work for any Russian language and/or literature student. However, due to the complexity of the language, the audiobook is best for advanced students.
The Master and Margarita
Author: Mikhail Bulgakov
This Russian classic is the story of the devil and his pals arriving in Soviet-era Moscow. “The Master and Margarita” is a witty satire often hailed as one of the finest novels of the 20th century.
War and Peace
Author: Leo Tolstoy
Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” is one of the best known works of literature in world history. It follows the French invasion of Russian in the early 1800s and how it impacts several families.
This book is largely philosophical and uses advanced language, so it is best for advanced students. However, given the importance of the work, it is an ideal novel for language learners and literature aficionados to familiarize themselves with.
Child Care: The Main Rules
Author: Svetlana Antonova
This Russian parenting audiobook will introduce you to both new ideas and new vocabulary! You’ll hear words and phrases related to babies, children, families and parenting.
Listening to audiobooks in the health and wellness genre can be helpful for beginner or intermediate students, because you won’t have to follow a complex story.
Crime and Punishment
Author: Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Follow Raskolnikov as he decides whether he should commit a crime. The vocabulary and plot of “Crime and Punishment” are quite complex, so this audiobook would best suit advanced learners.
Rich Dad Poor Dad
Author: Robert T. Kiyosaki
This popular personal finance audiobook will make you think harder about money. Though it was not originally written in Russian, listening to the Russian translation will definitely benefit you. It will simultaneously improve your Russian and financial literacy.
It is best for advanced speakers since there are advanced terms and concepts. However, any advanced speaker who is interested in business or finance will benefit from this audiobook on several levels.
Author: Ayn Rand
Though originally written in English, the Russian-language audiobook of Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel is still a strong choice. Featuring a society in which industry has collapsed, “Atlas Shrugged” explores concepts like capitalism and government regulation. Due to the language and concepts, it is best for advanced Russian students.
Whether you’re religious or not, the Bible is a text that many people are at least a little familiar with. Each part of this Russian audio version can be downloaded separately, and the accompanying text can be freely searched and scrolled through online.
Of course, not every part of this book uses modern or relevant language, but it’s mostly a surprisingly good source of everyday vocabulary. It’s also a good way to get the hang of complex sentence structure and grammar if you do a close reading.
We recommend giving this recording a shot regardless of your religious affiliation, as the audio is beautifully done, with professional-level recording quality, extremely clear pronunciation and even accompanying music and ambient sound effects.
Note: The text can be found here.
Капитанская дочка (The Captian’s Daughter)
Author: 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, and it’s about a teenage boy who 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. The plotline and vocabulary are a bit advanced. 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 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.
Анна Каренина (Anna Karenina)
Author: 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.
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).
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.
Гадкий утенок (The Ugly Duckling)
Author: Hans Christian Andersen
This famous children’s story makes this Russian audiobook ideal for beginners, as it’ll probably be relatively easy for you to follow along.
Although the story is simple, this audiobook runs over 25 minutes. The length can make it 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!)
5 языков любви: Как выразить любовь вашему спутнику” (The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts)
Author: Gary Chapman
Maybe you’ve heard of the five love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, physical touch and gifts. According to the author, these are the key to communicating with your significant other. In fact, the Russian subtitle can be literally translated as “How to Express Love to Your Companion.”
This Russian audiobook is good for advanced learners. You might consider buying the print book in Russian from Amazon along with the audiobook for some extra guidance.
“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). Love isn’t simple, and neither is the language used to describe it!
So if you don’t know if you want to go down the audio route or the book path, why not take both roads at once and give audiobooks a try?
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)