December 29, 2019

The Year's Most Popular on Russian Life


The Year's Most Popular on Russian Life
Looking back on the best of 2019 Elena Bobrova

This year, Russian Life expanded online to include the full archive of all 25 years of the magazine, all while continuing to add lots of new and fresh online-only content. A few days ago, we highlighted our favorite Weekly Russia File stories from this year. And here, in case you missed them, are the online articles we published in 2019 that readers liked best.

In 2019, readers salivated over articles about food. Life is short, eat dessert first: our third most popular article of the year was all about Russian sweets. (A couple of them you might literally eat first, for breakfast!) Getting back to the basics, also on our Top 10 list were articles about soup and porridge, with all the information you could ever need to understand your “first course” or learn about the illustrious history of kasha. Of course, all three articles are linked up to dozens of our recipes, so you can taste Russia at home. But wait, there’s more than Russia: ever wondered why Georgian food is nearly as common in Russia as Chipotle in America? We have answers to all your burning questions about foods that start with kh: khachapuri and khinkali

Readers also loved articles about history gone wrong – from someone’s perspective, at least. Invading Russia, it seems, was a bad idea for Hitler. A “docuseries” about the unfortunate last Czars (Plural? Did Netflix think there was more than one of them?) was history gone wrong on television. Chernobyl, on the other hand, was a historical incident that went very, very wrong – but at least they got it right this time on the silver screen. 

In articles about Russian historical memorials, we also learned where history had gone big and where it had gone... weird. We know at least our readers weren’t planning on going home: they were reading up on tips for travelling the Russian rails, and stories about what they might encounter on their journeys. (Those who did stay a little closer to home made the trip to New York City’s Russian enclave, Brighton Beach). 

We also highlighted some wonderful individuals. Our birthday message to Dostoyevsky was suitably dark, and we reported on a “с днëм рождения” to cosmonaut Alexei Leonov that was literally out of this world. For those who prefer their blog subjects to be modern and female, we also had some popular articles in the Piter’s People series: food journalist Natalia Kapiturova and artist Ekaterina Khozatskaya

We celebrated Maslenitsa with proverbs and wondered whether we should celebrate Russia’s birthday at all. We rocked out to Russian music, and learned what grammatical choices are music to a persnickety language teacher’s ears. 

And… we opened our digital archives to so, so much more life in Russia. This was the year our print magazine came online, and, if you have a subscription, you can read the articles that revealed the hidden lives of women at the top of the world and the hidden contents of women’s purses; that explored the holy labyrinths of Altai and the spread of distinctly not-holy hogweed; that turned Russia’s most well-known poet into a meme and a poet you didn’t know that you know into, well, a poet you now know. And that just scratches the surface.

Thank you, dear readers, for a fun, far-out, tasty, critical, celebratory 2019. We look forward to finding you in your inboxes, Facebook feeds, and phone screens in 2020. 

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Some of Our Books

Chekhov Bilingual

Chekhov Bilingual

Some of Chekhov's most beloved stories, with English and accented Russian on facing pages throughout. 
The Moscow Eccentric

The Moscow Eccentric

Advance reviewers are calling this new translation "a coup" and "a remarkable achievement." This rediscovered gem of a novel by one of Russia's finest writers explores some of the thorniest issues of the early twentieth century.
Marooned in Moscow

Marooned in Moscow

This gripping autobiography plays out against the backdrop of Russia's bloody Civil War, and was one of the first Western eyewitness accounts of life in post-revolutionary Russia. Marooned in Moscow provides a fascinating account of one woman's entry into war-torn Russia in early 1920, first-person impressions of many in the top Soviet leadership, and accounts of the author's increasingly dangerous work as a journalist and spy, to say nothing of her work on behalf of prisoners, her two arrests, and her eventual ten-month-long imprisonment, including in the infamous Lubyanka prison. It is a veritable encyclopedia of life in Russia in the early 1920s.
At the Circus (bilingual)

At the Circus (bilingual)

This wonderful novella by Alexander Kuprin tells the story of the wrestler Arbuzov and his battle against a renowned American wrestler. Rich in detail and characterization, At the Circus brims with excitement and life. You can smell the sawdust in the big top, see the vivid and colorful characters, sense the tension build as Arbuzov readies to face off against the American.
A Taste of Russia

A Taste of Russia

The definitive modern cookbook on Russian cuisine has been totally updated and redesigned in a 30th Anniversary Edition. Layering superbly researched recipes with informative essays on the dishes' rich historical and cultural context, A Taste of Russia includes over 200 recipes on everything from borshch to blini, from Salmon Coulibiac to Beef Stew with Rum, from Marinated Mushrooms to Walnut-honey Filled Pies. A Taste of Russia shows off the best that Russian cooking has to offer. Full of great quotes from Russian literature about Russian food and designed in a convenient wide format that stays open during use.
The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

This exciting new trilogy by a Russian author – who has been compared to Orhan Pamuk and Umberto Eco – vividly recreates a lost world, yet its passions and characters are entirely relevant to the present day. Full of mystery, memorable characters, and non-stop adventure, The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas is a must read for lovers of historical fiction and international thrillers.  
White Magic

White Magic

The thirteen tales in this volume – all written by Russian émigrés, writers who fled their native country in the early twentieth century – contain a fair dose of magic and mysticism, of terror and the supernatural. There are Petersburg revenants, grief-stricken avengers, Lithuanian vampires, flying skeletons, murders and duels, and even a ghostly Edgar Allen Poe.
Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

This astonishingly gripping autobiography by the founder of the Russian Women’s Death Battallion in World War I is an eye-opening documentary of life before, during and after the Bolshevik Revolution.
Jews in Service to the Tsar

Jews in Service to the Tsar

Benjamin Disraeli advised, “Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.” With Jews in Service to the Tsar, Lev Berdnikov offers us 28 biographies spanning five centuries of Russian Jewish history, and each portrait opens a new window onto the history of Eastern Europe’s Jews, illuminating dark corners and challenging widely-held conceptions about the role of Jews in Russian history.

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