Russian literature is famous around the world as some of the best ever created. From War and Peace and Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, to Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, novels born from the enigmatic, thriving streets of Russia are loved and studied across the world. Even in Russia, books by Russian authors are some of the most prized possessions in households.
That’s why, here at Real Russia, we decided to investigate the deep history of books and the fascination and adoration in which they are held. With our International Book Lovers Index, we set out to discover which countries around the world are best for book lovers to visit.
So, what did the results say?
The number one country in the world for locations booklover’s need to flip through is the USA with a staggering 219 literature events and festivals taking place throughout the year – that’s almost one a day.
The USA soared to the top as the most bookmarked spot in the world, coming in first for number of novelists – with 8,314 authors having been born in the land of freedom.
Russia came flying in at fourth place with an overall book lover score of 29.5, and an incredible 101,981 books published every year.
The top 10 destinations are:
- New Zealand
India and the UK both also ranked highly across the board, with the UK playing host to 166 literary festivals every year, and India publishing 90,000 books in that same period. Interestingly, India is also home to 1,118 libraries, compared to just 173 in the UK.
Both India and the UK are home to a number of fantastic literary sites and events to appease any visiting book lover. The UK has the fantastic London Book Fair and the Edinburgh International Book Festival, as well as Jane Austen’s House Museum, and the home of Shakespeare himself in Stratford-upon-Avon. India also has a number of literary events, including the Jaipur Fest, and the Great Indian Film and Literature Festival.
Of course, here at Real Russia we were thrilled to see Russia rank so highly – and it’s really no surprise, given the number of amazing authors that have come from the fantastic country! In fact, books are so well loved that it is customary to gift your hosts a book when visiting for a dinner party or engagement at someone’s house.
The classics include Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, but not all Russian literature is as heavy as this. Indeed, Russia is credited with the first ever dystopian novel – Yevgeny Zamyatin’s famous We which tells of a society wherein individual identity has been eradicated. Just over 300 famous novelists have come from Russia, and they’ve left their mark on the world in a staggering way.
Russia has a complicated and interesting history, and the citizens that lived here used literature to escape and explore what was happening in their society. That’s why there are so many following the turmoil of the 19th century, or exploring the fight for women’s rights, and the disintegration of the royal family in the early 20th century.
Clearly this escapism has worked, as there are currently just over 600 libraries across the country catering to the needs of literature lovers far and wide, and there are 35 fantastic literary events to enjoy. These include the Moscow International Book Fair, while travellers can also enjoy a visit to Tolstoy’s’ Estate-Museum, as well as the Vladimir Dahl Russian State Literary Museum.
The results by continent are as below:
Best country for book lovers in Europe: Russia
Best country for book lovers in Oceania: Australia
Best country for book lovers in North America: Canada
Best country for book lovers in South America: Argentina
Best country for book lovers in Asia: India
Best country for book lovers in Africa: South Africa
How we did it
To create our International Book Lovers Index, we looked at the following factors:
- Literature tourism
- Number of libraries
- Number of novelists
- Books published every year
Using these categories, we established an overall Book Lovers Score by scoring each country across the elements, and then ranking them based on this. Number of novelists and books published were each given a half-weighted score to balance out the differences in size and population across the countries.