My favorite resources and content for learning Russian

Here I'm listing some of my favorite YouTube channels and other resources, just so they're all in one place. As I find more stuff I like, I'll add it here. 

I don't get any compensation from any of these recommendations.


Attenius's Immersion Tracker Template -  cleaned up version of my immersion time/reading tracking sheet on Google Sheets which I've used to great success for 18 months.

RuTracker -  so much content there that it's motivation to learn Russian on its own. Some non-pirated content is also only available there, such as some fan-made audiobooks I've listened to.

Refold - a free guide on how to get actually good at a foreign language. The Patreon linked there is just for a couple of vocab decks and Matt's Q&As, you absolutely do not need to subscribe to it. The guide and Discord communities are free, and anyone that wants to get fluent should find them very useful.

Anki - it's intimidating and not that fun, but right now you can't beat it as a spaced repetition flashcard system, and reading books + making cards in Anki is probably the fastest way to learn vocab. Follow Refold's recommendations on it and you'll do great.

GoldenDict - the best desktop dictionary program I've ever seen for Russian. You can find dictionary files for it on RuTracker, and you can (and should!) also add the Russian and English Wiktionaries as sources through the settings.

Reverso Context - translations in context, helpful for finding out how things are usually worded in other languages. Also helpful for when you don't understand what an entire phrase means. A lot of examples are dubious or incorrect, but it's a place to start. - every anime and donghua ever, often with voiceovers and subs from multiple fan-groups and professional dubs if they're available. - light novel and web novel translations, lets you download them as epubs to use on your eReader/reading app of choice. You can also just google the English or original title of a light novel + ранобэ or на русском to find them if they're not on this site. Light novels are basically Japanese pulp fiction books with occasional anime-style pictures, mostly targeted towards teenagers and sleepy commuters, so they tend to be easy reads, high on action and dialog. Web novels are kind of the amateur version of light novels, also popular in China and Korea. Both are often adapted into manga and TV shows if they become popular enough. If you can find something you like, I think light novels are absolutely awesome for beginners. They're usually simple while still being real content for modern audiences, so I think they're a lot more entertaining than graded readers, and if the book has an anime adaptation, you can watch that to find out if you'll like the book and get an idea of the plot ahead of time. Many of the most popular light novel series also have fan-made audiobooks in Russian on YouTube, RuTracker, and VKontakte (Russian Facebook equivalent).

FicBook - Russian fanfiction and amateur fiction. The writing tends to be light, and it can be easier to read something if you're already familiar with the characters and setting.

Author.Today - self-publishing site for amateur fiction - huge database of mostly scifi and fantasy books. Often with reviews useful stats like word counts. You won't find the books themselves here, but their filters are really helpful for tracking down exactly the kind of book you want to read.

LitRes - Russian bookstore with way lower prices than I'm used to on Amazon, plus it lets you download your books as epub files.

Russian subtitles - you'll have to download them and add them to the video you're watching yourself. Site seems to have been down for several months.

More Russian subtitles

Youglish - lets you search for specific phrases in YouTube subtitles to hear exactly how something sounds.

Migaku Dictionary - add-on for Anki. The dictionaries for Russian are bad, but it's great for looking up and inserting word audio from Forvo, which is the only thing I use it for right now (other than being necessary for the Migaku Browser Extension).

Migaku Browser Extension - still extremely clunky and not free, awesome for making audio Anki cards from Netflix, YouTube, or your own video files if you can fiddle with it enough to make it work.

Tachiyomi - Android app for reading manga with tons of Russian translation sources - which shows in which languages are available in which countries on Netflix

YouTube Channels

Russian with Max, the only channel I really watched and can recommend that's intended for learners. He does an awesome job of making content that's both interesting and comprehensible without having to mix in English.

Дождь, Белсат (the Вот Так program is in Russian, main channel is Belarusian), Шульман's channel and Навальный's channel, independent/opposition news and political videos. Navalny was surprisingly easy to understand, and the most popular videos on the channel like Putin's Palace have been referenced in memes a fair bit.

Вечерные Кости does tabletop roleplaying game content on YouTube and Twitch, they're absolutely awesome. Especially like their news/reviews show, Горячие ролевые. I've already heard too much live D&D in English to really find their actual campaigns that engaging, but other people would probably be into their many many shows in that format. Unfortunately the project has been closed (hopefully not forever) due to the war.

Микитко сын Алексеев, (primarily Russian) linguistics stuff.

Ирина Якутенко - science news and discussion, pandemics and motivational psychology are frequent topics.

WickerMag, video essays on random pop-culture topics and sometimes weird European cultural things. Usually I don't find this type of content interesting, but I like how it's presented here.

The Люди, dude travels to unusual or dangerous places like North Korea.

varlamov, a pretty well-known journalist that does a lot of traveling around the former Soviet Union and puts out a ton of content.

Джо Шизо makes dubs of the Trash Taste podcast and Gigguk's videos (popular English-speaking anime youtuber) along with some of his own content. I found them useful early on because translated stuff is usually easier to understand, and it's content I wanted to watch anyway.

PhoneticFanatic, in-depth explanations of English phonetics in Russian. If you're an intermediate Russian learner (or English learner that speaks Russian!), you will get a ton out of his videos, as he always contrasts the English sounds with the Russian ones. Honestly the best resource for Russian pronunciation I've found, as while the Wikipedia article on Russian phonology is fairly detailed, it doesn't have much in the way of examples in sound or images, and it doesn't explain terminology in-line with where it's used like PhoneticFanatic often does.

As an anime fan that likes streams, I stumbled into Russian vtubers (streamers that use a 2D avatar or 3D model) and have been enjoying them quite a bit. The community's relatively small so you'll see them interacting with each other a lot and run into a lot of the same people in comment sections. Mana Renewal's voice took some getting to, but she's been at the forefront of Russian vtubing since forever in terms of subscribers, technology, and variety of content. St Amina Renewal is a very entertaining conversationalist with a pleasant voice and a great attitude. Aligor is hilarious but zoomery--streams alternate between post-ironic chaos and ламповые посиделки while he improvises on his guitar. Froggy Ch talks a ton and her streams are usually chill Nintendo games or arts & crafts stuff while chatting with her audience or guests. This is a compilation from an Among Us collab a bunch of them were in

Moonlighter and Agnamon make entertaining (and often LONG) anime reviews with high production quality. Moonlighter is especially long-winded and funny, but his videos are very slow to come out. They tend to spoil entire shows, so it gives me extra motivation to finish ones on my to-watch list so I can watch their reviews (or get the gist of a popular anime I didn't like so I don't feel like I have to watch it).

Jokeasses, comedy group from Kazakhstan. Most popular for this song, but they also have an awesome podcast (Далада Подкаст) where they set up a table in random places on the street and let anybody sit down and talk. While I can't understand the ~10% that's in Kazakh, it's still cool to hear how fluidly they switch between the languages.

Neon Jersey Podcast, a tiny variety conversational podcast from Kazakhstan.

Muzzloff Play, let's plays mostly of survival games. Especially enjoyed his Stardew Valley playlist.

Arzamas make really nice history/educational animations along with interesting podcasts. I liked their podcast about the Russian language in particular.

Орк-подкастер makes tons of awesome gaming content. Lots of really funny reviews with high production quality (especially of MMOs), plus he streams an absolute ton.

МаринаГорская, videos on learning English from a Russian-speaker. I disagree with about 1/2 of her advice, but I find her perspective interesting, and I see her videos as a useful way to develop my own ability to talk about language learning.

Listening Materials


Everything you'd be watching in your native language, but in Russian. For me, I started to get interested in Russian again pretty soon after I got into anime, so I spent a lot of time rewatching anime I liked and watching other anime I hadn't seen, just looking up episode summaries as I went on Wikipedia if I felt like I wasn't understanding the plot enough to enjoy the show. If I felt like I needed to watch a movie to be able to have conversations about it or whatever, I just watched the Russian dub.

The easiest thing I watched when I started was the American cartoon Adventure Time (Время приклучений), which you should be able to find by Googling or on RuTracker. The voices for the Russian dub also match the show better than any other Russian dub that I've watched.


Шекер - crime webdrama focused on a college student from Kazakhstan. Uses very modern and natural language. Both seasons also available on RuTracker.

Жуки - comedy. First 3 episodes are on YouTube. Three young app developers from Moscow choose to work in a tiny village as an alternative to serving in the army.

Кухня - modern high production value sitcom set in a restaurant kitchen. You can find subs and/or transcripts for a lot of the early episodes if you Google around. All 120 episodes are on YouTube (unsubbed).

Пока цветет папоротник - Comedic adventure with some fantasy elements. Muscovite is teleported to a remote town in the Altai mountains. My personal favorite Russian TV show. All episodes on YouTube.

Белеводье - sequel to Пока цвете папоротник, takes itself a little more seriously and kicks up the fantasy elements a lot.

Золотая орда - political drama set after the Golden Horde's conquest of Rus. Absolutely loved the costumes and sets and the opportunity to learn a bunch of vocab in this domain. All episodes on YouTube without subs, although you can find subs by Googling around.


17 мгновений весны

Reading Materials


Atomic Habits - self-help book, maybe you'll get something useful out of it. I listened to the audiobook and found it very easy to follow.

The Three-Body Problem - hard-ish, thriller-ish scifi novel originally in Chinese, mostly set in China. I found the plot extremely engaging and the translation surprisingly easy to understand. Don't read any descriptions for the book on Wikipedia or any bookstores. For some reason they all spoil a big part of the plot right away. 

Light Novels

(Mostly) Japanese serialized pulp fiction books, many of which are targeted at teenagers. They're easy and entertaining but can be pretty cringey. For most of them I'd recommend trying the anime first, and if you like that, come back and read the books.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai (click выбрать все, tick скачать одним файлом, then press Скачать fb2) - 4 volumes translated. Hidden behind a dumb clickbait title are some pretty cool stories with only intermittent cringe, and I found it pretty easy even relatively early on--most of the vocab is simple and slice-of-lifey. Highschoolers deal with emotional/social problems that are manifesting as supernatural problems (not like...pokemon fights, but like mysterious wounds appearing, losing memories, switching bodies, etc.). One of my personal favorite series. Has an anime with a full dub. 

Spice & Wolf (click скачать, then epub (с иллюстрациями)) - Over 20 volumes. Little bit harder than these other recommendations. Dialogue-driven low-fantasy adventure romance series shared by a traveling merchant and a 600-year-old demigoddess. The scale of the plot is pretty small and I wouldn't really call it tightly written, but what sets it apart from other series for me is that the main characters' problems are almost always social, emotional, or economical in nature and can't be solved directly with violence, even though one of the main characters could easily shred her way through armies single-handed. There are 17 volumes in the main series and several more in spin-offs, so if you get as attached to this duo as I did, you won't run out of material anytime soon. There's a great anime adaptation with one of the best Russian dubs by Reanimedia that covers the first few volumes, so try that first (although I think beginners will struggle to follow along with the plot). You can also find audiobooks for volumes 1-17 on RuTracker/VKontakte.

The Journey of Elaina - Only a few volumes have been translated so far. Also episodic fantasy stories, but I found it significantly easier than Spice & Wolf despite the setting being much more fantastical. Witch flies her broom around to various countries to record stuff about them. Interesting main character in that she's just straight up kinda a bad person who often prefers to stay out of other people's problems even when she could help. Individual stories are kinda a grab-bag of themes, from moralizing fairytale-ish, to horrorish, to Harry Pottery. Has an anime with voiceover. 

Toradora - All 10 volumes translated. Kinda the granddaddy of romcom light novels, so it's super tropey and has been troped on by other stuff, however it is pretty dang easy. Female lead is pretty hard to bear in the beginning. Has an anime with voiceover and a complete set of fanmade audiobooks on rutracker.

Three Days of Happiness - One volume. Supernatural, romancey, psychological, kinda sad. Intermittent cringe, but at least it's not about highschoolers.


Once you can comfortably read some translated stuff, I think fanfiction is a great stepping stone towards native novels. You get original Russian thoughts and phrasing and slang and such, but in familiar settings and fairly light writing styles. I also find amateur fiction to often be a little easier than typical novels.

Find your favorite fandom on or try some amateur чтиво  from Author.Today. Quality is going to be hit-or-miss, but I think the earlier stages of learning a language is the best time to read trashy content--prioritize what's easy and fun, and eventually the stuff that was challenging before becomes light reading.


Vita Nostra - one of my favorite books ever, probably my favorite that I've read in Russian. Involves a magical school, but it's no Harry Potter--it's dark, weird, philosophical, and psychological, and the setting is a very real-feeling college in a small post-Soviet town, so there's tons of slice-of-life vocab to mine from it. Wouldn't say it's great for beginners, but it's not the hardest thing I've read, either.

Mine Infinity - Рейд - my favorite amateur book on Author.Today that I've tried so far. 5 grown men lose their jobs and become literal miners in a VRMMORPG. The writing style was super entertaining for me, and of course I felt a lot of nostalgia for my own time playing MMOs. I'm looking forward to reading the other two volumes in the series, but at the moment there's no way for foreigners to buy anything on the site.

Волкодав - Slavic adventure fantasy. Kinda reminds me of the Witcher, but maybe just because it's one of the few other Slavic fantasy series I'm familiar with. Волкодав is much more of a nobody (in this book) and comes across as more overtly heroic (but still quite interesting), and the world is fair bit more grounded than that of the Witcher. Uses a fair amount of rare, old vocab, so I found it a little challenging, but again not the hardest thing I've read.

Описание торгового путешествия на Восток, а так же стран и людей, в них живущих, сделанное Евой Айтерзенталь - a fanfic based on Spice & Wolf, but having basically nothing to do with it. It managed to capture a lot of Spice & Wolf's vibe minus the romance, with lots of episodic stories of interacting and trading with people from a bunch of different fake cultures--mostly ones based on places I find more interesting than Western Europe.

Трудно быть богом - not as well known as Пикник на обочине [Roadside Picnic, inspiration for the STALKER games], but definitely my favorite so far of the 3 Strugatsky Brothers' books I've tried. An observer from a future Earth watches over a planet still at the medieval stage. Has a kinda historical fiction/fantasy feel, which I'm more comfortable with domain-wise than, say, space opera. A good deal of social commentary packed into a fairly short novel.


Славянские Мифы - a super entertaining (and I hope accurate) overview of what little is known about the beliefs of Eastern Slavs before the coming of Christianity and what survived during the dual-faith period.


Black Book - visual novel/deckbuilder game set in the late 20th century where you help villagers with their supernatural problems. Tons of awesome Slavic folklore stuff, with most of it voice-acted.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

4,000+ hours of Russian and 400+ of Mandarin: A Very Late 2 Year Update

Learning Russian with Immersion Methods: 6 Months Update

21 Months of Russian Immersion + Mandarin Month 1ish