15+ Best Books for Learning Russian from Scratch

What's the best book to use to learn Russian? List of most effective books for beginners learning Russian A1-A2 levels. If you are an intermediate learner, your language proficiency levels B1, B2, go to: 7+ Best Russian Textbooks for levels B1 - B2, intermediate

1. Russian Grammar (Quickstudy Academic Outline)

My wife and I are learning Russian, so I bought this chart. I saw a negative review, but I read a lot of the other reviews also, thought it was worth a shot. I was not disappointed. If there are some small discrepancies, they are minor. Russian is a complex language, not sure if all the Russians understand it completely. (Americans don't always get English either). So, this laminated fold-out chart is not trying to take the place of a textbook, but it has a wealth of good solid information on it. Very sturdily made. Buy it!

Add to Cart!



2.The New Penguin Russian Course: A Complete Course for Beginners

This is the best book for learning Russian from scratch without teachers or classes even you know absolutely nothing about Russian. 


1. A solid understanding of Russian grammar.

2. A vocabulary of some of the most useful words in the Russian language.

3. The logical and straightforward methodology with no spoonfeeding or watered-down grammar lessons accompanied by cutesy cartoon pictures.

 4. In each lesson, you would first memorize a list of new vocabulary words.

5. You would study several concise grammar principles which were clearly explained.

6. You would examine a brief Russian text which incorporated the new vocabulary and applied the new grammar principles which you had just learned in the lesson.

7. You would translate an English text into Russian to test yourself on the new vocabulary and grammar.

8. A key which showed the correct translation of the English text into Russian, so you could check yourself.

9. The numerous additional Russian texts and conversations so that you can see how the vocabulary is used in context.

10. The answer keys at the back of the book show the Russian-English translation as well as the English-Russian translation of the exercises.

11. The translation exercises at the end of each lesson and their corresponding answer keys at the back of the book. Translation is probably the best way to test whether or not you really understand the grammar and vocabulary taught in the lessons, and this book gives you plenty of opportunities to test yourself in this manner. 

12. it's small enough to carry anywhere, unlike those bulky Russian 101 textbooks used in college classes which use a slow, watered-down, almost infantile approach to teaching the language. If you want to learn Russian, buy this book and work through the lessons.


The only major drawback is that you'll never really learn proper pronunciation without listening to native Russians speak the language (in this case join our chat with native Russians), and this book doesn't have tapes to accompany it. Other than that, however, you won't find a better book for beginners who want to learn Russian.

Add to Cart!

3. Russian For Dummies


A wonderful and easy to understand source for anyone beginning to study the Russian language. The Cyrillic alphabet, often a source of real difficulty, is explained. An effort is made to simplify and also to give phonetic pronunciations of the language. Frequent words and phrases like days of the week, numbers, etc., are covered. Real time situations such as restaurants and banks are also covered. If you are just beginning to struggle with the Russian language you need this introduction.

4. Illustrated Russian Grammar by Goutta Snetkov








Illustrated Russian Grammar.

Covers all the key points of elementary Russian grammar.

Infographics and illustrations in the book produce visually engaging explanations.

Practice exercises.

A comprehensive table of regular and irregular Russian verbs.

Can be used for self-study or as a supplement to any textbook.

5. Sputnik: An Introductory Russian Language Course

  • Modern, it's relevant to our times. Russia has clearly moved on from the Soviet Era, and this book reflects that.
  • Thorough. Each section in this book contains a chance for you to enhance your reading, speaking, writing, and general understanding of Russian.
  • Interactive. The website that goes along with this textbook provides all sorts of auditory exercises. You're always encouraged to listen, speak, write, and read. It's a very well-rounded approach.
  • Fun. Not one bit dry, this textbook is fun to use. The illustrations inside are cute. The voice actors on the website sound enthusiastic. The light, paperback format encourages you to go to the park and study Russian.

With plenty of illustrations and verbal exercises, this textbook is wonderful for visual and auditory learners.

6. The Everything Learning Russian Book with CD: Speak, write, and understand Russian in no time!

The author knows how to teach a language, and she knows how to make Russian make sense to an English speaking mind. It has tons of recordings (92), and all are very clear. The grammar is covered but there is so much more in this book that was useful. Nicely organized book, more like a school textbook. 

7. The Big Silver Book of Russian Verbs: 555 Fully Conjugated Verbs (Big Book of Verbs Series)

Screen. The Big Silver Book of Russian Verbs: 555 Fully Conjugated Verbs (Big Book of Verbs Series)









The Big Silver Book of Russian Verbs is the most comprehensive resource available for learning and mastering Russian verbs. Designed for beginning through advanced learners, this indispensable guide will help you conjugate verbs with ease, enabling you to communicate in Russian confidently.

555 fully conjugated verbs, listed alphabetically.

Current idioms and expressions for each verb.

The Top 50 verbs, with many examples of their usage in context.

More than 4,200 verbs cross-referenced to conjugation models.

A handy guide to deciphering irregular verb forms.

8. ELI Picture Dictionary Russian \ Иллюстрированный словарь "Русский язык". Джой Оливер, Альфредо Бразиоли

Screen. ELI Picture Dictionary Russian \ Иллюстрированный словарь "Русский язык". Джой Оливер, Альфредо Бразиоли.










The interesting, cheerful and entertaining illustrated thematic dictionary will be your faithful assistant in studying Russian.

* more than 1000 words

* 43 illustrated themed pages that introduce well-known topics such as home, family, school and work, as well as up-to-date and specific topics like the environment and astronomy.

* Nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and pretexts.

 * The glossary lists more than 1000 words alphabetically and cross-referenced to the relevant themed page.

9. Russian-English Bilingual Visual Dictionary

Russian-English Bilingual Visual Dictionary of DK's bestselling series makes language learning accessible by using photographs to put the everyday vocabulary of the modern world into context.

A thematic organization of more than 10,000 fully illustrated terms labeled in both Russian and English and comprehensive two-way indexes put the perfect translation at your fingertips.

Additional feature panels include abstract nouns and verbs, as well as useful phrases that you can use in conversation once you are feeling more confident.

Russian-English Bilingual Visual Dictionary is a colorful and stimulating learning resource ideal for all levels, whether you are a student, teacher, tourist, or business traveler.

Now fully updated with new text, images, and a bold new look.

10. Colloquial Russian: The Complete Course For Beginners

Screen. Colloquial Russian: The Complete Course For Beginners









Combining a user-friendly approach with a thorough treatment of the language, it equips learners with the essential skills needed to communicate confidently and effectively in Russian in a broad range of situations.

Progressive coverage of speaking, listening, reading and writing skills

Structured, jargon-free explanations of grammar

An extensive range of focused and stimulating exercises

Realistic and entertaining dialogues covering a broad variety of scenarios

Useful vocabulary lists throughout the text

Additional resources available at the back of the book, including a full answer key, a grammar summary, and bilingual glossaries

Balanced, comprehensive and rewarding, Colloquial Russian will be an indispensable resource both for independent learners and students taking courses in Russian.

11. Pimsleur Russian Level 1

Russian Level 1 Lessons 6-10: Learn to Speak and Understand Russian with Pimsleur Language Programs  (Original recording Audiobook $0.00) - 30 minutes of language teaching with talk, vocabulary, and structures.

 Level 1 is divided into 3 audiobooks. Each audiobook lasts for 5 lessons of 30 min each, to a total of 2h30m of content.

I am halfway through the second one. Given the amount of repetition involved, you can probably estimate that the content volume is not very high. You won't learn a ton of new words from these examples, but they seem to allow you to understand the basic mechanics of the language well enough so you are able to use them as models for the vocabulary you will get otherwise.

I recommend AnkiApp flashcards for that. You can select the 200 more frequent words with audio and that will cover 80% of what is said in normal conversation. I've been listening to this every day for 1h since I have started a week ago and I've been doing the AnkiApp flashcards app to pick up more vocabulary. I can now have very minimal conversations with my Russian friends in New York at this point, but it still very facetious. I don't know yet grammatical tenses and complicated structures, but I can make understandable Tarzan like utterances and also I can make sense of some of what they say back, and this is cool because it been a short time since I started. I also liked the overall theme of the conversation.

I believe this product delivers quality and seems to be a more natural and interesting way to learn.

I've used Rosetta Stone and dozens of other language courses and study material but only the Pimsleur method gets you up and speaking within minutes. It is by far the best and fastest way to learn to speak a language.
If you plan to travel and want to be able to speak the native language by the time you get there this will do the job. There's nothing better.
I speak Russian, Spanish, German, Serbian, Greek and Italian and sure wish I'd learned them all with Pimsleur.


12. Russian Learners' Dictionary: 10,000 Russian Words in Frequency Order

Screen. Russian Learners' Dictionary: 10,000 Russian Words in Frequency Order.










Many people study languages and in the process learn many words they may not actually need. Any serious student of language will find such a reference most valuable.


This book literally lists the most frequently used words in order of occurrence in normal conversation and writing.

It is perhaps wise to note that language is a dynamic beastie and words may shuffle in the frequency of use, even inviting new words into the process.

It is a work built upon past efforts to document usage patterns, expanded to include more than simply what you would need to pass a scholastic requirement.


But remember, this is a list, not a textbook.

There are examples of usage offered (for the first 600 words) as well as tenses, but no detailed explanations of application. 

Get "Russian Learners' Dictionary: 10,000 Russian Words in Frequency Order" Now!


13. Russian Complete CourseBook. Living Language.

Screen. Russian Complete CourseBook. Living Language.









Complete Russian: The Basics (Book and CD Set): Includes Coursebook, 4 Audio CDs, and Learner's Dictionary (Complete Basic Courses)


The most initial rate of Russian in a line of rates of the largest American publishing house LIVING LANGUAGE.

He will help to learn to speak, read and write in Russian, will lay the foundation on which you can enhance the knowledge further.

The modern rate "Russian without problems" is based on an effective method which since 1960 is used for training in the diplomatic academy of the USA. In the first fourteen chapters, the most important and basic elements for beginners are selected to learn Russian.

If you are able to devote to a rate of only 30 minutes in a day, then in several weeks you will be able already to learn to speak on primary subjects and to understand written … The method of natural training is the basis for a rate, that is we will begin with studying of sounds, then phrases and separate words and then offers.

And to repeat everything that you need – to listen to an audio recording after the announcer for whom Russian is native. Listen, you speak, plunge into language.

This full course covers all aspects of language – skills of oral speech, the letter and grammar.

In the book, you will find the translation into English of all texts of an audio recording and short explanations in each lesson.

The first five lessons belong to an explanation of rules of a pronunciation that is a basis for studying new words, phrases and grammar.

If you already studied earlier Russian that can use the book for repeating and as the reference book on grammar, is tables of irregular verbs and the reference book on correspondence here.

Get now! "Complete Russian Basic Course"

14. Russian Essential Grammar and Conversational Language



This title breaks the grammar down into bite-size bits, and even offers samples so you can see the grammar in action while you are learning it while he blends it in with conversational Russian. The author of this book is a native Russian speaker who has learned five languages and obviously has a talent for languages. The author shows the way to learn it in a straightforward, concise manner with plenty of examples that will help a determined person to learn a lot on their own. The author advises readers to be flexible in using the book, feel free to jump in anywhere to learn a particular subject (for example, nouns, verbs, pronouns), or to start at the beginning and work through to the end. The book is organized in three parts: grammar, conversational language, and dictionaries (numerals, verbs, nouns, adjectives, irregular verbs, and links). The author’s strategy to facilitate learning is to learn the perfective aspect of verbs, what to memorize and what not to memorize, and to listen to living language. The book itself is organized in terms of alphabet, verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, conversational language, and the dictionaries. It is relatively short (103 pages), and could be used as primary text for the beginning Russian student or quick reference document for the more advanced student.

15. English Grammar for Students of Russian

Screen. English Grammar for Students of Russian.









A great book which teaches you how English grammar works so that you can understand Russian grammar! 


You get knowledge about:

  1. Parts of speech — how to identify English and Russian nouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositions and etc.
  2. Functions of words — how to identify English and Russian subjects, direct and indirect objects and etc.
  3. Grammatical terms — explanation of conjugation, case, declension, agreement and etc.
  4. Step-by-step analysis of examples — how to get from an English structure to an equivalent Russian structure.

Each chapter of the book covers one grammar point.

In English

Grammar explained as it relates to English, anticipating concepts necessary for Russian.

In Russian

  • Grammar explained as it relates to Russian.
  • Examples with explanations of the rules applied.
  • Possible pitfalls for English speakers.

16. 750 Russian Verbs and Their Uses

Screen. 750 Russian Verbs and Their Uses.








Verbs--the key to a living language.

750 Russian Verbs and Their Uses gives you the key to a living language--verbs in context.

Verbs give speech power and movement.

Russian verbs have subtleties that usually can be appreciated only after years of study and conversation with native speakers.

750 Russian Verbs and Their Uses gives you all the correct variations and adds immediately to your command of the language.

Correct usages are illustrated in common phrases and idioms, and close attention is paid to verb aspect--a special concern to students of Russian.

Perfect for students or for businesspeople who are working to develop one of the world's most exciting commercial markets, here is the book that will help you understand and express yourself in an important and intricate tongue.

17. Learn Russian for Everyday Life: The Big Audiobook Collection for Beginners

Screen. Learn Russian for Everyday Life: The Big Audiobook Collection for Beginners.

Do you want to learn Russian a fast, fun and easy way?

Then this huge audiobook compilation is for you.

Learn Russian for Everyday Life: The Big Audiobook Collection for Beginners is for people who want to finally speak and use real-life Russian.

You learn the must-know conversational phrases, questions, answers, social media phrases, and how to talk about your everyday life in Russian. All words and phrases were hand-picked by our team of Russian teachers and experts. By the end of this audiobook compilation, you will be able to...

1. Communicate in Russian on social media

2. Master common greetings

3. Have basic conversations with locals

3. Talk about your daily routine - from morning to night

4. Order food at restaurants

5. Ask for directions

And much more...

With this audiobook compilation, you get:

Audiobooks inside: Must-Know Russian Social Media Phrases, Top 400 Activities: Daily Routines in Russian, and 3-Minute Russian

+ 60 audio lessons in total

+ 5 hours in total

+ 319-page PDF so you can read along

+ Two bonus conversation cheat sheets

Get Learn Russian for Everyday Life

18. Learn Russian to work with Russians: The Easy Way To Speak Russian. Elena Kaledinova

"Learn Russian to work with Russians: The Easy Way To Speak Russian" is a handy workbook for learning or teaching basic Russian language and Russian business terminology.

The book presents valuable practical guideline on how to start speaking Russian. The author introduces many Russian words, phrases, and dialogues which are useful for everyday situations.

You can use the print book for making notes.

Inside this book you will discover:

  • The A-Z of Russian language and special tips and tricks for learning them fast
  • Templates of often used dialogues
  • Illustrated teaching material
  • Basic business terminology for business communication

Download: "Learn Russian to work with Russians"

19. Reading Russian Workbook: Russian Step By Step Total Beginner (Book & Audio) 

For many who are beginning to study Russian, the Cyrillic alphabet presents more of a barrier than most texts and self-help books seem to acknowledge. The absolute beginner often needs a source that introduces specific sets of the letters and accompanying sounds and then proceeds to provide drills (via simple vocabulary) for practicing them. This workbook is provides that source in a "step-by-step" fashion that is very effective. 

If you have prior experience with Russian, you may find that this workbook is too simple. But if you are starting Russian (and especially if you are starting out on your own), this is an excellent place to begin.