Russian people love to read. So it’s no wonder that there are many Russian audiobooks available.
But where do you find audiobooks in Russian? If you want to learn Russian, you can take advantage of this.
Listening to audiobooks in Russian is a great way to learn new vocabulary and improve your understanding of spoken Russian.
Oh, it’s also fun to do. So you can easily spend a lot of time improving your Russian skills.
Where can you find Russian audiobooks?
Now, before you can start listening, you need to find Russian language audiobooks. It can be difficult to find them if you don’t know where to look.
So I’ve made a list of 7 places where you can find Russian audiobooks. Most of them are free, some are paid. Some of the free have a freemium model where you can only listen on the site. And if you want to download them, you need a subscription.
Anyways, let’s get started.
The most obvious place to start for Russian audiobooks is YouTube. You won’t find many modern books on there, as YouTube tries its best to get rid of copyright issues. That’s why YouTube is good if you want to find classic Russian literature.
The best way to find them is to just go to YouTube and type in: “Russian Audiobooks”.
That will already give you some good ones. This also gives some short stories made specifically for foreigners to learn Russian.
A better way to look for these audio books is to search for: “аудиокнига”
That’s the literal translation of an audiobook in Russian. This will give the books to a Russian audience. And you can also find some translated versions of popular English books.
The downside of YouTube is that you need a YouTube premium in order to download things easily. But you can also use other resources, that can help you download videos from YouTube such as yt5s.com
2 Good audio books on YouTube:
- the Idiot (Dostoyevsky)
- Best Russian Short Stories
LibriVox is a site that collects audiobooks in the public domain. That’s great, as you can simply download them. The website is basically a library for all languages, so you need to specifically look for Russian books.
The downside of LibriVox is that at current time (November 2021), it only has 111 Russian audiobooks available. That’s plenty to listen to, but most of it is Russian literature. Or stuff like the translated version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Interesting for sure, but maybe not exactly what you’re looking for.
2 Good audio books on LibriVox:
- Aesop’s Fables
- Записки из подполья
Akniga. org is a Russian website for Russians to look for audiobooks. So you need to write in Russian as well. I tried looking for some books by typing in ‘Tolstoy’ with latin letters, and it didn’t show his books.
So be aware that you need to have the Cyrillic alphabet on your phone/PC. Otherwise you can of course also use Google Translate to show the Russian letters, but it’s easier to just install the Russian keyboard. That’s necessary anyways if you’re learning Russian. So if you haven’t done that yet, go do it now.
The good thing about akniga is that there are literally more than 40.000 different titles in this library.
And not only are there plenty of Russian writers, you can also find plenty of writers from other languages:
Here’s a screenshot that shows that there are 314 audiobooks of Steven King. So that’s great if you like to read horror. But there’s also Agatha Christie if you’re a fan of her.
In a way, I actually think that it’s better to listen to audiobooks that are translated from English in the beginning. That’s because you can listen to books that you’ve already read in your native language. And that means that you already completely understand the plot. So you won’t get lost if you don’t understand a couple of sentences.
2 Good audio books on Akniga:
- Метро 2033
- The Shining by Steven King (Сияние)
Amazon also has plenty of Russian audiobooks. And an easy way to get access to all of them is to have an Audible subscription.
This can be a great option if you already have an Audible subscription. I personally don’t, as I already have too much audiobooks in my backlog to listen to. Plus I know where to get them for free on the Russian sites.
But if you already have it, then it’s probably the easiest way to start listening to Russian books.
Probably the largest benefit of Audible is that there’s a lot of material on amazon that is targeted specifically to non-native Russian speakers. There are plenty of short stories for beginner Russian learners, or books that explain Russian grammar or teach you Russian words. So with Audible you would have access to all that too.
2 Good audio books on Audible:
- Short Stories in Russian
- Learn Russian for beginners in your car
Audiobooks.com is another paid service for audiobooks. This is a good service if you’re looking for Russian versions of non fiction books.
There’s no option to select only Russian books on the site, so you need to search for “Russian edition”.
As you can see it has “Think and Grow Rich” in Russian. Which is quite cool if you’re into that stuff. The other books I don’t know, but there’s a lot of self help, diet, and success books on here.
Good audio books on Audiobooks.com:
- Think and Grow Rich
Litres.ru can be compared to the Russian audible. The great thing about this site is that it literally has all the popular books. You can find Harry Potter, or the Witcher here. But also a lot of Russian books. It is a paid subscription service, but since it’s in rubles, it’s not expensive for most people. At the moment of checking it was 300 rubles for 3 books per month. So that would be a couple of dollars. And you likely won’t finish 3 audiobooks in a month if you’re learning Russian.
2 Good audiobooks in Russian on Litres.ru:
- Harry Potter
- Steven Hawking autobiography
How to use Russian language audiobooks for maximum learning?
Listening to Russian audio books is NOT for beginner Russian learners. You must have a solid base of Russian language skills before you can start listening to real books. I recommend you at least be an intermediate student. If you’ve just started learning Russian, it’s better to stick to short stories, or audio podcasts that are made specifically for Russian learners.
However, over the last 5 years of listening to Russian language audiobooks, I’ve learned a lot of things that can make audiobooks more effective to improve your Russian skills.
Here are 3 tips that will help you a lot when learning Russian:
Listen with focus
If you are trying to listen to a book in a foreign language that you may or may not fully understand, you MUST listen with complete focus.
Do not try to listen to the book while cooking, or while trying to get some work done. That will not help at all. If you’re not listening with full focus, you will quickly lose the thread of the plot, and you’ll need to relisten things in order to understand what’s going on.
There are some exceptions. You can listen to books while taking a walk, or while commuting to work. As long as it’s not using mental resources.
Don’t listen to Russian audio books that are too difficult
Since you need to listen with full focus, I recommend you listen to books in the Russian language that are easy to understand for you. The main goal of these audiobooks is to get you to spend a lot of time listening to them.
It’s much better to spend an hour per day enjoying a nice book, then to suffer for 10 minutes. There are exceptions of course, but first try to listen to audiobooks at (or below) your current level.
Then later on, once you’ve gotten experience with them, you can try some more challenging books.
Read the regular book at the same time as you’re listening
So what should you do if you want to try to read books that are a little above your current Russian skills?
Get the regular book. And read it at the same time as you’re listening to the audiobook.
Because you are both seeing and hearing the words at the same time, your brain has a much easier time understanding what’s actually going on. It’s difficult to explain exactly how it feels. But I highly recommend you try this out for a couple of books.
It will allow you to go through books compared to regular reading. And it allows you to much better understand books compared to just listening.
What should you do next?
Learning Russian does NOT need to be difficult. All you need is a solid plan that helps you improve the following things daily:
- listening skills
- speaking skills
That's ALL you need. If you can do this for a couple of weeks, you’ll already be making great progress in your Russian skills.
And the best part? If you improve a little bit every day, soon these practices will become daily habits.
And then you will start making progress on autopilot.
This means that learning Russian is now a part of your daily routine. So you won’t even need discipline anymore to get yourself to practice.
If you like the idea of this, but don’t know where to start, go here for more information.