The Greatest Irish, Russian "Nonfiction" Books Since 1900

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 270 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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  1. 1. The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

    "The Gulag Archipelago" is a comprehensive and stark account of the Soviet Union's forced labor camp system. The narrative, based on the author's own experiences as a prisoner and on extensive research, documents the history, operation, and life inside the Gulag system. It also provides a critical examination of the regime's legal system, police operations, and political leadership. The book is an intense indictment of the Soviet Union's totalitarian regime, revealing its brutality, inhumanity, and vast scale of its prison camp network.

  2. 2. Autobiographies by William Butler Yeats

    This book is a collection of autobiographical essays by a renowned Irish poet and playwright, reflecting on his personal and professional life. It provides a deep insight into his early life, family, influences, and the evolution of his poetic and dramatic works. The author also gives a vivid account of the Irish literary scene and the cultural and political climate of his time, including his involvement in the Irish National Theatre and the Irish Literary Society.

  3. 3. Borstal Boy by Brendan Behan

    "Borstal Boy" is a semi-autobiographical novel that depicts the author's experiences in a British juvenile detention center, or borstal, during World War II. The young protagonist is arrested in Liverpool for his involvement with the Irish Republican Army and is sent to borstal where he spends his formative years. The narrative explores themes of patriotism, identity, and the complexities of adolescence, presenting a raw and compelling portrayal of life in detention and the relationships formed there.

  4. 4. My Childhood by Maxim Gorky

    "My Childhood" is a poignant and powerful autobiographical account of a young boy's life in 19th-century Russia. The narrative explores the harsh realities of growing up in a dysfunctional family, with a cruel stepfather and an uncaring mother, against the backdrop of poverty and social unrest. The protagonist's struggles, resilience, and observations provide a vivid portrayal of the societal conditions of the time, while also illuminating the human capacity for hope and perseverance in the face of adversity.

  5. 5. Notes From The Blockade by Lydia Ginzburg

    "Notes From The Blockade" is a poignant memoir that provides a firsthand account of life during the Siege of Leningrad in World War II. The author, Lydia Ginzburg, vividly describes the hardships, hunger, and constant fear experienced by the city's residents, while also exploring the resilience and strength of the human spirit. Through her powerful narrative, Ginzburg offers a deeply personal and moving portrayal of survival amidst unimaginable circumstances.

  6. 6. Memoirs Of A Revolutionist by Vera Figner

    "Memoirs of a Revolutionist" is a captivating autobiography that chronicles the life of a remarkable woman, detailing her journey from a privileged upbringing to becoming a prominent figure in the Russian revolutionary movement. Through her personal experiences and reflections, the author provides a vivid account of the political and social upheaval in 19th-century Russia, shedding light on the struggles, sacrifices, and triumphs of those dedicated to the cause of revolution. This thought-provoking memoir offers valuable insights into the complexities of revolution and the indomitable spirit of those who fight for change.

  7. 7. My Life by Leon Trotsky

    This autobiography provides a detailed account of the life of a prominent Russian revolutionary and Marxist theorist. The book traces his early life, education, and political development, his role in the Russian Revolution and Civil War, his leadership of the Red Army, and his expulsion from the Communist Party and subsequent exile. It offers a unique perspective on key events in 20th-century history and an insight into the author's complex personality and intellectual development.

  8. 8. Fallen Leaves by Vasily Rozanov

    "Fallen Leaves" is a collection of philosophical and autobiographical essays that delve into the author's musings on a wide range of topics, including religion, sexuality, and society. The work reflects the author's critical examination of modernity and the decline of traditional values, as well as his personal sense of isolation and disillusionment with the contemporary world. Through a series of fragmented and often controversial reflections, the author grapples with the existential challenges of his time, presenting a candid and introspective exploration of the human condition at the turn of the 20th century.

  9. 9. Conditioned Reflexes by Ivan Pavlov

    "Conditioned Reflexes" is a groundbreaking work that delves into the study of behaviorism and the concept of classical conditioning. The author, a renowned physiologist, presents his findings on how an organism's responses can be triggered or conditioned by external stimuli, using his famous experiments with dogs as a prime example. The book significantly influenced the field of psychology and laid the foundation for future studies on learning and behavior.

  10. 10. Creatures that Once Were Men by Maksim Gorky

    "Creatures that Once Were Men" is a collection of short stories that depict the harsh realities of life in the lower classes of Russian society. The stories are set in a night refuge for the homeless, where the characters, despite their grim circumstances, strive to maintain their humanity. Through their struggles, the author explores themes of poverty, addiction, despair, and the human spirit's resilience.

  11. 11. The Unwomanly Face Of War by Svetlana Alexievich

    "The Unwomanly Face Of War" is a powerful and poignant collection of interviews with Soviet women who fought in World War II. Through their testimonies, the author sheds light on the often overlooked and untold stories of these brave women who served as snipers, pilots, nurses, and soldiers on the front lines. The book explores their experiences, sacrifices, and the lasting impact of war on their lives, providing a unique and intimate perspective on the realities of war from a female point of view.

  12. 12. State And Revolution by Vladimir Il’ich Lenin

    This seminal political theory text delves into the role of the state in society and the necessity of proletarian revolution to dismantle the bourgeois state apparatus. It argues that the working class must seize state power, dismantle the existing state machinery, and establish a dictatorship of the proletariat as a transitional phase towards the creation of a classless, stateless society. The work critically analyzes the ideas of Marx and Engels on the state, while also addressing the practical aspects of revolution, including the suppression of the bourgeoisie by the proletariat. It serves as a theoretical foundation for understanding the dynamics of class struggle and the path towards socialism.

  13. 13. Selected Stories by William Trevor

    "Selected Stories" is a collection of short stories by acclaimed author William Trevor. The book features some of Trevor's most memorable and haunting tales, exploring themes of love, loss, and the complexities of human relationships. With his signature style of understated elegance and quiet, observant prose, Trevor creates characters that are both ordinary and extraordinary, capturing the subtle nuances of their lives and the emotions that drive them. From the Irish countryside to London's bustling streets, these stories offer a glimpse into the human experience and the ways in which we navigate the world around us.

  14. 14. Essays Of Oscar Wilde by Oscar Wilde

    This collection of essays showcases the sharp wit and insightful social commentary of one of the most celebrated writers of the late 19th century. The essays span a range of topics, from art and aesthetics to criticism and personal reflections, all delivered with the author's distinctive blend of eloquence and irony. The author's keen observations on Victorian society, his exploration of beauty and its relation to life, and his thoughts on the role of the artist make this compilation a treasure trove for readers interested in literature, philosophy, and the enduring complexities of human nature.

  15. 15. A Vision by William Butler Yeats

    The book in question is an esoteric exploration of the cyclical nature of history, art, and the human experience, as seen through the lens of the author's unique system of symbolism and mysticism. Drawing upon a wide array of influences, including the occult, astrology, and the author's own imaginative faculties, it presents a complex framework for understanding the interplay of personal and universal forces. The work is divided into sections that delve into philosophical and poetic discussions, offering a vision of reality that is structured around the phases of the moon and characterized by a series of gyres or spirals, representing the evolution and involution of the soul, history, and civilization.

  16. 16. Major Critical Essays by George Bernard Shaw

    This collection of essays showcases the author's incisive wit and profound critical thinking as he delves into a variety of subjects, ranging from the intricacies of Shakespearean drama to the social responsibilities of the artist. The author's articulate and often controversial opinions challenge the status quo and provoke readers to reconsider their preconceptions about literature, theater, and society. His essays are celebrated for their intellectual rigor, humor, and the author's unwavering commitment to social reform, making them an enduring contribution to literary criticism and cultural discourse.

  17. 17. A Fanatic Heart by Edna O'Brien

    "A Fanatic Heart" is a collection of short stories that delve into the complexities of human emotions and relationships, often set against the backdrop of Ireland's lush landscapes and social upheavals. The narratives explore themes of love, betrayal, and the struggles of the human spirit through a variety of characters, from young girls to aging men, each grappling with their own desires, regrets, and search for meaning. The author's lyrical prose and keen insight into the intricacies of the heart and society weave together tales that are both poignant and revealing, offering a window into the soul of her characters and the cultural tensions of the time.

  18. 18. Autobiography by Maksim Gorky

    The book is a powerful and evocative memoir that chronicles the harsh and often brutal life of a Russian writer who rose from poverty to become one of the most celebrated literary figures of his time. It vividly portrays his early years, marked by relentless adversity, including childhood experiences with abusive relatives and his eventual escape into a life of vagrancy, where he encountered a diverse array of characters and harsh realities. Through his journey, the author reflects on the social injustices and the plight of the lower classes in Tsarist Russia, all while developing his own intellectual and political consciousness. His narrative is not only a personal story of survival and self-education but also a window into the societal conditions that would eventually lead to the Russian Revolution.

  19. 19. We Don’t Know Ourselves by Fintan O'Toole

    "We Don't Know Ourselves" by Fintan O'Toole is a collection of essays that explores the current state of Ireland and its people. O'Toole argues that Ireland's sense of identity has been shaped by its history of colonization and the struggle for independence, but that this identity is now being challenged by globalization and the changing social and economic landscape. He examines issues such as immigration, the Catholic Church's declining influence, and the rise of nationalism, and ultimately argues that Ireland needs to embrace a new sense of identity that is inclusive and forward-thinking.

  20. 20. The Diary Of A Gulag Prison Guard 1935 6 by Ivan Chistyakov

    "The Diary Of A Gulag Prison Guard 1935-6" is a chilling and harrowing memoir that provides a firsthand account of the atrocities and cruelty witnessed by Ivan Chistyakov during his time as a guard in a Soviet Gulag prison. Through his detailed entries, Chistyakov reveals the dehumanizing conditions, brutal punishments, and constant fear that both prisoners and guards endured within the oppressive Soviet regime. This haunting narrative serves as a stark reminder of the dark realities of the Gulag system and the lasting impact it had on the lives of countless individuals.

  21. 21. The Complete Letters Of Oscar Wilde by Oscar Wilde

    This compilation is an exhaustive collection of correspondence penned by one of the most celebrated writers of the Victorian era, known for his wit, eloquence, and flamboyant style. The letters provide an intimate glimpse into the author's life, covering his rise to fame, his relationships, his trials, and his time in prison. They reveal his personal thoughts on art, literature, society, and his own creative process. The collection is not only a treasure trove for literary enthusiasts and scholars but also a poignant, revealing portrait of a complex man who was a central figure in the aesthetic movement of the late 19th century.

  22. 22. Other Russias by Victoria Lomasko

    "Other Russias" is a powerful and thought-provoking graphic novel that offers an intimate and unfiltered glimpse into the lives of marginalized individuals and communities in contemporary Russia. Through her stunning illustrations and poignant interviews, Victoria Lomasko sheds light on the struggles, hopes, and resilience of diverse groups such as LGBTQ+ activists, migrant workers, political dissidents, and the forgotten voices of rural communities. This eye-opening book challenges stereotypes and provides a humanizing portrayal of those who are often overlooked or silenced in Russian society.

  23. 23. In the Land of White Death by Valerian Albanov

    This book is a gripping first-person account of a Russian navigator's survival journey in the Arctic wilderness. After his ship gets trapped in pack ice, the protagonist and his crew embark on a grueling trek across the frozen landscape, battling extreme weather, starvation, and despair. The narrative provides a vivid depiction of the harsh Arctic environment and human resilience in the face of adversity.

  24. 24. Full Tilt by Dervla Murphy

    "Full Tilt" is a captivating travelogue that documents the author's adventurous bicycle journey from Ireland to India. The journey is filled with diverse landscapes, cultures, and people, as well as several challenges, including harsh weather conditions, illness, and political unrest. The author's resilience, determination, and passion for exploration are evident throughout the book, providing an inspiring and insightful perspective on solo travel and self-discovery.

  25. 25. The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen

    This book provides a deeply researched examination of the resurgence of totalitarianism in Russia, focusing on the lives of four individuals born at what promised to be the dawn of democracy. The book explores how, after the fall of the Soviet Union, instead of moving towards a democratic society, Russia has seen a rise in a new form of totalitarianism under its current leadership. It delves into the psychological shift in the Russian populace, the government's use of homophobia as a method of control, and how the internet and social media have been weaponized for political purposes.

Reading Statistics

Click the button below to see how many of these books you've read!


If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.