15 Best Books to Learn Russian Language for Beginners

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

List of the most useful Russian books for beginners and elementary students.


Choosing the right books to learn Russian language is extremely crucial especially in the very beginning of your learning process because your first exprerience will affect your motivation to learn Russian language. If your first experience is boring and hard, it is very likely that you might abandon your project. On the contrary, if your first experience is amazing, entertaining and fun, you have more chances not only to learn Russian language faster, but also to stay more enthusiastic about your learning process. Believe it or not, but choosing the right learning resources is 90 percent of your success in language learning.

It's very important to choose the right books to learn Russian language

But how do you know which books to choose to learn Russian language?

Well, I have prepared a list of the most quality books and audio-courses which will help you learn Russian language effectively and most importantly will not kill your motivation to learn Russian language. Be assured that I have analyzed these books myself, I have worked with some of them, others were sent to me for a review. These are the high-quality materials for beginner and elementary students in Russian, and you can be sure to improve your Russian tremendously if your work regularly and enjoy the process of learning Russian language.


Here is a list the the best books to learn Russian language for beginners:


LEARN RUSSIAN ALPHABET

First things first. If you have just decided to learn Russian language, the first thing you need to do is to learn Russian letters. Russian alphabet can be challenging to learn for foreigners. And in order to learn it faster I can recommend you this wonderful book

1. Russian Script Hacking: The optimal pathway to learn the Russian alphabet

This book teaches you how to quickly and efficiently recognise letters and common words in Russian script. this is This book is for you if you want to travel to Russian and need to understand Russian words around you, or you want to learn Russian language and need to master the basics. It provides plenty of practice activities to help you recognise each letter of the Russian alphabet; useful mnemonics to make you remember the shape of each letter; audio files with the pronunciation of Russian letters and words as well as some handy tips to help you decipher common Russian words. In brief, this book is all-in-one guide to start your journey to learn Russian letters.




2. Read and Write Russian Script: Teach yourself

Another great book to learn the basics of Russian alphabet and to be able to read and write simple texts in Russian. It is a clear step-by-step guide to learn written Russian that uses lots of examples from real-life texts in order to show how it works in context and lots of exercises to boost your learning. Comparing with a previous book, this one is more complete and gives more practical exercises. They really turn the process of learning Cyrillic alphabet into a very engaging and fun experience. The book is well structured and follows clear patterns step by step. You will be surprised to see how Russian alphabet is easy to learn with this amazing book. I highly recommend it to all beginners in Russian.




RUSSIAN AUDIO COURSES FOR BEGINNERS

Audio courses are an amazing tool to learn Russian language. You can listen to them everywhere and anytime. It is important to have a written version of these audios to be able to learn how new words and constructions not only orally but also visually. Here is a list of the best audio courses to learn Russian language.


3. Foundation Russian course (Michel Thomas Method)

I always recommend to all Russian language beginners to start with this audio course. This is by far the best method to learn Russian language. How does it work? During this course, you will be put in class environment where you will hear a teacher and two students in a live lesson. This way you become the third student and you need to participate actively in the class session (by responding to questions). If you really listen carefully and follow the instructions, I assure you that you will be able to make simple sentences in Russian after the first 3 lessons. This learning method is really the best to learn basics of Russian.




4. Pimsleur Russian Basic Course

This is another great Russian audio course which can help you learn Russian language fast if you study on a regular basis. This course includes 10 lessons - 5 hours of engaging audio lessons with real-life spoken practice sessions. Each lesson provides you with 30 minutes of spoken language practice, an introductory conversation, new vocabulary and grammar structures. Detailed instructions enable you to understand and participate in the Russian conversation.




RUSSIAN WORKBOOKS FOR SELF-LEARNERS

Russian grammar is complex and must be learned only in context, especially for beginner learners. There are several Russian books that can help you learn Russian grammar easily and effectively without boring drills and academic explanations.


5. The New Penguin Russian Course

This is the most famous book for Russian language learners. The advantage of this book is that you can perfectly use it for self-learning. It's a complete course for beginners that will provide you with all necessary grammar and vocabulary basics to start speaking Russian. The book includes thirty lessons followed by clear revision exercises to make sure that you fully understand what you have learned. The focus is given to boosting your vocabulary, improving your conversational skills as well as learning basic grammar. The book also has a vocabulary list with 1,500 words and a glossary of grammatical terms.




6. Russian Tutor: Grammar and Vocabulary Workbook

This interactive workbook includes 200 activities to work on grammar and vocabulary points. By studying and practicing Russian grammar you'll understand how the language really works and be able to speak Russian with clarity and ease.

This Russian workbook is equipped with great illustartions and infographics for extra context and practice, hints and tips to help you to understand language rules and culture points.

Overall, this is a very good book for self-learners who need structured and engaging materials to learn.




7. Learn Russian the Fast and Fun Way

This is a very interesting and unusual workbook to learn Russian language. However, I would recommend you to use it as a supplement to one of the audio courses I mentioned earlier if you want to learn Russian language properly. This book contains lots of great illustrations, word lists, vocabulary flash cards, language exercises in the form of games and puzzles. This is an ideal book for those who want to travel to Russia and need to learn some important cultural insights. You will learn the most common phrases to communicate easily, to make simple requests and so on.



RUSSIAN VOCABULARY BOOKS FOR BEGINNERS

When it comes to boosting your vocabulary in Russian language, the best way is to use some interesting authentic materials like short stories, podcasts, videos and so on. Stories are especially great for people who want to write in Russian properly (and not just to communicate orally) as your visual memory can scan the words and help you memorize them. Let's look at some amazing books to learn Russian words.


8. Short Stories in Russian for Beginners

Well, this is definitely the most famous Russian story book. And it is really good, I agree. But not for complete beginners in Russian. I would say that you should anyway buy this book but start using it only when you already have an elementary level in Russian. Otherwise, you will be discouraged a lot. By the way, the author of this book is Olly Richards, a polyglot who speaks eight languages. You can find his blog which is called "I Will Teach You A Language" where he provides some really interesting points on learning a new language. As for the book, it is really worth buying. Stories are funny and based on some cultural insights, high quality audio files are also provided with the book.



9. Russian Short Stories for Beginners: 20 Captivating Short Stories to Learn Russian

This Russian story book is not as famous as a previous one but it doesn't make it less useful. These easy Russian stories are really good and engaging. Each story is fun and entertaining accompanied with realistic dialogues and everyday situations. The book itself is well-structured and contains summaries with vocabulary lists after each story. These stories include some modern slang as well as common idioms that Russian people use a lot. You will also be challenged with some tricky questions in Russian that will test how well you have acquired a new knowledge. In my opinion, this book is a great tool to boost your Russian vocabulary fast and to enjoy the overall process.




10. 2000 Most Common Russian Words in Context

Context is the key! Don't waste your time memorizing some separate words, this is useless. This Russian book is really good in terms of enhancing your vocabulary in Russian as it provides the most common Russian words with clear and memorable examples that will stick to your mind. You will also find some good tips on how to make your learning process more enjoyable and effective. This book is easy to follow and it includes English translation for each word. Overall, I would say that it is a good starting point for beginners in Russian who are eager to learn Russian language fast. But you should really work on this book, don't expect these word to be learned in one day. Practice, practice and practice in Russian.




11. Conversational Russian Dialogues

This conversational Russian book is just great. It is well-structured, contains interesting dialogues between two people who discuss some common everyday topics in a fun and easy way. This is extremely helpful for people who want to live in Russia or just to travel to Russia. There are more than 100 simple dialogues that can help you handle everyday issues in Russia. All dialogues are followed by an English translation. So, this book is really ideal for beginners in Russian language. This book also offers some great tips to continue learning Russian and boost your vocabulary to speak Russian like a native. Audio files are well recorded. You can first listen to these dialogues and read the text, and then just listen to these dialogues on the go no matter where you are.



12. 501 Russian Verbs

It is extremely important to learn Russian verbs and how to conjugate them in order to speak Russian. This book "501 Russian Verbs" is really great as it provide a list of the most common Russian verbs, show their conjugation and examples to help you learn these Russian verbs easily. Verbs are listed alphabetically and one page is dedicated to each verb. This book also gives some useful idioms and modern verbs used on the Internet. This book is very easy to use. The only disadvantage is that there is no audio to learn how these verbs are pronounced in Russian. However, it is not really a problem, as you can use some free Internet programs to hear how these verbs and their forms should be pronounced.




RUSSIAN DICTIONARIES

Dictionaries are essential tools when it comes to learning Russian language. You can use them when you read Russian stories or when you travel to Russia. There are several Russian dictionaries that are really worth buying. Let's have a closer look at one of them.


13. Russian-English Bilingual Visual Dictionary

The concept of visual learning is really powerful. This Russian-English Visual Dictionary is a really good choice if you like learning Russian words by particular categories. It contains 10,000 illustrated terms arranged by themes and situations that makes a learning process smooth and easy. It's really handy when you travel and you need to explain certain things in context: at the hospital, at the grocery shop and so on. Illustations are clear and high-quality. What is really awesome is that this dictionary is accompanied by a free audio app that you can download from the App Store or Google Play.



RUSSIAN GRAMMAR BOOKS FOR BEGINNERS

Russian grammar is challenging. But the problem is not really in grammar itself but in the way you learn it. Russian grammar books for foreigners seem to be made not for people who want just to learn Russian language to communicate but for people who will teach Russian. The grammar rules are often explained in an academic way that turns a learning process into a torture. I will share with you some grammar books which are not that painful for beginners.


14. Illustrated Russian Grammar

This is a good Russian grammar book for beginners. BUT! It is not perfect. There are some evident pros and cons. This grammar book explains all key points of elementary Russian grammar that are well-illustrated and make a learning much easier. It contains a comprehensive table of regular and irregular Russian verbs. However, this book can only be used as a supplement to your overall learning process as I find that it lacks good exercises to practice your acquired knowledge. This grammar book is good for providing you with some detailed grammar explanations. It will not help you to speak in Russian, but will give you a good starting point.




15. Tochka Ru / Tochka Ru: Russian Course A1

While it is not just a grammar book, I found it useful only for its grammar exercises (if you use it as a self-learner). Don't get me wrong, this book is really good but it is mostly focused on grammar rather than on your conversational skills. This book is well-structured and is better to use with a tutor. The vocabulary section is really good as well covering such topics as family, home, work, free time, travel and others. As I said, this book is aimed to be used with a tutor as there are some good interactive games, achievement tests and other useful materials that you won't be really able to practice by yourself. So, if you have a tutor and you don't like learning materials she/he uses, you can propose this book instead.



That is it! You can find some other useful materials for learning Russian grammar in this post.

Please, note that if you buy any of these books via provided links, I will earn a small comission that will help me maintain this blog. But I assure you that my review is honest and would not recommend you дерьмо (you can google to find a meaning of this word). So yeah, I will not recommend you something useless as I have analyzed and used these books myself as a teacher.


Do you want more Russian authentic materials? Then watch this video on free authentic Russian resources to improve Russian vocabulary and listening skills.


Free Authentic Russian Resources


Hello! My name is Mila and I am a founder of Hack Your Russian language platform. You can find me here:

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