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For the third month of the Book Voyage reading challenge, we will be reading books set in Eastern Europe and Russia.
While many of the countries in the western half of Europe are very well known to Americans, as you journey further to the east the region holds more of an air of mystery. This is true in part because the western countries have historically been easier to visit, while many of the Eastern European countries were behind the “Iron Curtain” for much of the 20th century.
The fall of the USSR, in 1991, lead to the creation of more than a dozen new nation-states, and the names and borders of countries in this region have continued to shift and change over the past several decades. Although it’s easy to lump these countries together because of their shared history, the truth is that they are extremely diverse, and we are excited to explore their unique cultures through this month’s books.
Watching the news provides a big picture view of current events and conflicts around the world, but can help us better understand the everyday citizens who are caught in the middle. Especially in light of Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine, we hope that our list of books set in Ukraine will help you learn more about this country’s past and present.
PS: You can read all about the Book Voyage challenge, find new book lists each month, and download your free printable map book tracker, with a color-coded map of each region here.
Depending on the context – geographical, political, cultural, or historical – you’ll find various answers as to which countries are classified as “Eastern Europe.” In this region, there are numerous countries, like Russia, that straddle the border between Europe and Asia. Additionally, there are numerous countries on the European continent that are considered part of the Middle East from a geo-political perspective. We will be reading books set in the Middle East for the Book Voyage Challenge later this year, so we have not included those countries on this month’s list.
As always, you are welcome to choose any book set in this region that you’d like, but to help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of books set in more than 20 different countries, including many of the best Eastern European novels, some wonderful YA books set in Russia and Eastern Europe, and plenty of historical fiction, memoirs, and fascinating non-fiction reads.
For purposes of this reading challenge, we consider Eastern Europe to include the following: Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Czechia (formerly known as the Czech Republic), Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Albania, North Macedonia, mainland Greece (we are saving the Greek Islands for our month-long island journey this summer), Georgia, Chechnya, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.
We’ve worked hard to curate book recommendations that feature many Eastern European writers, and we’ve placed an emphasis on books that not only take place in Eastern Europe but also provide atmospheric descriptions that will really transport you to the country of your choice.
Throughout the list, we noted the books currently available as part of Kindle Unlimited Subscriptions.
Best Books About Eastern Europe
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We put together a little graphic based on those who logged Eastern Europe books as part of the challenge last year. Keep in mind that the list has been updated, so there are new options above that weren’t included last year. But, any of the 4 books below would be an excellent choice according to our readers!
Next up, pick your book set in the northern region of Asia!
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