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With the news fixed so firmly on the events in Russia and Ukraine, it’s little wonder that there’s been a marked increase in interest in books and materials about the relationship and history of these two countries. Here at Evanston Public Library, we’ve certainly seen more checkouts of books that speak to this relationship and to Putin himself. Curious about what your neighbors are reading? Then take a look at these books that have a lot to say about the times in which we live:
- There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century, by Fiona Hill. The former National Security Council official combines a mix of policy analysis about Russia with her own memoir of her time in the Trump White House. As Rachel Maddow said, “Of every book written by anybody associated with the Trump administration, in any way, [this] is absolutely the one to read.”
- Voroshilovgrad, by Serhiy Zhadan, translated by Reilly Costigan-Humes and Isaac Wheeler. Are you up for some Ukrainian magical realism? I don’t suppose that’s a question you expected to be asked today. This novel by Ukraine’s most famous poet follows an executive returning home to take over his brother’s gas station after his mysterious disappearance.
- Black Square: Adventures in Post-Soviet Ukraine, by Sophie Pinkham. Pinkham, has written on Ukraine for the New Yorker in the past. If you’re looking for an accessible glimpse into post-Soviet Ukrainian life, this is probably the memoir you should be picking up first.
- The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, by Masha Gessen. A National Book Award Winner, first and foremost. A whipsmart look at Russia and how it reverted to its totalitarian roots. Here at the library we can’t keep this one on our shelves!
- Putin’s Russia: The Rise of a Dictator, by Darryl Cunningham. “He’s essentially a gangster and not a particularly smart one. We need to demythologise Putin if we are to beat him.” This graphic novel encapsulates Putin’s life from birth onward. He fought dirty with his friends as a kid and little has changed since.
Would you prefer to watch some films but don’t know where to start? The library also allows you to stream three films per month via Kanopy. Right now, they’re highlighting documentaries under the title “Conflict in Ukraine.” Consider watching Breaking Point, The Babushkas of Chernobyl, Putin: The New Tsar, Oleg’s Choice and many more!
Betsy Bird is the Collection Development Manager of Evanston Public Library.