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Trends, Recommended Reads

The books we read to cope with the Russia-Ukraine crisis

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Sep 30, 2022

During wartime, books help us make sense of the unexplainable. We seek understanding, comfort and a look into the past in the hopes of finding a way forward in the future. The world watched while Russian forces invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. The conflict continues, and many of us still struggle to explain what’s happening to our children, as well as to ourselves. Books have been a guiding light for many to learn more about the history between these two neighboring nations.

To help readers find books related to the invasion, many libraries have curated collections like “Understanding Ukraine,” “Crisis in Ukraine” and “Ukraine in History and Stories.” With a mix of fiction, nonfiction and even titles for kids and teens, libraries have ensured easy discoverability of books covering a span of topics related to wars of the past, politics and history.

Libraries like the Brooklyn Public Library (NY), Cuyahoga County Public Library (OH) and Harris County Public Library (TX) have seen as much as a 400% increase in checkouts of digital materials in subjects like historical nonfiction. Patrons have checked out titles about the rise of authoritarianism, memoirs of Ukrainian immigrants, criticisms of Russian society in classical fiction and even a cookbook that goes on a culinary tour of Eastern Europe. For younger readers, a glimpse into the past can be the clearest way to understand what’s happening today.

Some of the most borrowed ebooks and audiobooks on those lists include:

Books about Russia/Ukraine

FICTION

Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol

A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert

The Orphanage by Serhiy Zhadan, Reilly Costigan-Humes and Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler

NONFICTION

The Gates of Europe by Serhii Plokhy

Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham

In Wartime by Tim Judah

Red Famine by Anne Applebaum

Manual for Survival by Kate Brown

Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich

A Short History of Russia by Mark Galeotti

The Ravine by Wendy Lower

Mamushka by Olia Hercules

Iron Curtain by Anne Applebaum

The Road to Unfreedom by Timothy Snyder

Putin’s People by Catherine Belton

A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka by Lev Golinkin

I’ll Never Change My Name by Valentin Chmerkovskiy

JUVENILE & YOUNG ADULT

Ukraine by Anastasiya Vasilyeva

The Winter Horses by Philip Kerr

Don’t Tell the Nazis by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

Stolen Girl by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

Find these books and more on the Libby library reading app.

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About the Author

Annie Suhy has been working in the book industry since 2006. When she’s not working, practicing yoga or petting cats, she’s doing paint-by-numbers or buying more plants. An avid poetry fan, her favorite collection is "The Splinter Factory" by Jeffrey McDaniel.

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