Getting to know russia.. books to read ?

By @Saravana |
I just got my Russian visa today and i'am super excited about it. For a long time it was not very sure if i'd get to travel to Moscow or not. But I'm not going to bore you with details and i cant tell you how excited I'm about going to this unexpected place.
Growing up, i had a strong connection to Russia. I remember all the book fairs in my school where most of the books would be from Russia. Stories about Tzars, valiant peasants, princes and princesses they were similar to any other fairy tales i guess, but i loved reading them and all the illustrations that came with the books. My grandfather in chennai also had a strong bond with Russia, he knew a little Russian and kept lots of Russian novels and magazines. 
So that was then, long back before we got MTV and Discovery channel. Russia slowly faded away and replaced by a new found obsession with everything american. Not that anything is wrong with that, just that i know very little about russia now.
So before i travel, i'am planning to pick up a few books to read about the country, its history and its people. Ideally i prefer to read a story (either fictional or non-fictional) set it some particular time/place. And any background information can be usually found on wikipedia. Books like Wolf Totem, Kite Runner and Seven Years in Tibet come readily to mind. 
So, here's my short list of books on russia.. suggestions are welcome and the list is likely to grow a bit bigger over the course of the next few days.


My friend also talks highly about "Inside the KGB" but the review's i've read on the net are not so great. Anyway, i think i'll borrow it from him in Beijing, if he still has it.


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