Alexandr Pushkin, LeoTolstoy, Anton Chekhov and many, many others….

This post will mostly speak to people who don’t usually leave any comments on my blog, but I know they are reading it, so thank you.  You know who you are, the same immigrants just like me. So here it is……
When we received an authorization to leave USSR, we were faced with the challenge of what to bring with us. What does America have and doesn’t it have.   My hubby and I did not have a lot since we were only married for 3 years, but our parents’ lived a life time together. Should they bring their furniture, should they bring their old china?   How do we decide what was worth taking with us and what wasn’t….
It’s not an easy decision. I remember packing for months and months, selling what was possible to sell and holding on to some things that we simply couldn’t part with.
I don’t know much about anybody else, but at that time in the Soviet Union everybody was more or less equal and pretty much had the same stuff, including book collection. None of us could collect anything back then. China, jewelry, watches were beyond our reach, but what we could collect were books: lots and lots of books. Almost every family I knew had libraries containing hundreds, sometimes thousands of books.  My family was the same and we were faced with the huge dilemma: leaving the books or taking them with us. Those books were my friends.  I read and re-read them a few times.  That was the time when computer games, (what computer games) and TV were not available or even popular. It was however the time when books were widely liked, where you would get lost in their world, where you did not have stay in lines to get a piece of bread, or a bottle of milk.  Instead you could fall in love with the main character or fight the war with heroes and never, never go back to reality….. Did I mention already that those books were my close friends, so I ask you: How do you part with your friends; how do you choose which one is allowed to come with you to America and which one is not worthy of the move?

Here are some that came with us

Alexandr Pushkin

Anton Chekhov

Leo Tolstoy "War and Peace"

Mikhail Bulgakov

and of course

Russian Nursery Stories

There are plenty more books that made the cut and travel with us to discover America, but unfortunately we could not take every single one :(.

I am pretty sure, that my immigrant friends will not comment on my post and that’s okay, but what about the rest of you guys. If you had to move 1000 miles away to start a new life which books from your old world would you take with you?


About Ariana

I came to USA about 20 years from former USSR. I am an American Citizen with a heavy Russian Accent. My two boys always make fun of my English. I love to write, I usually do it for me, but if you would like to stop and leave a comment it would be great! I ‘d love to share with you my American World with the hint of my Russian Personality.
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18 Responses to Alexandr Pushkin, LeoTolstoy, Anton Chekhov and many, many others….

  1. totsymae1011 says:

    No way for you to have them shipped to you later? That would be so hard to decide. You know, I don’t check books out of the library because I don’t like taking them back. Neither do I like to loan out my books. Someone wanting to borrow a book from me is like asking a stingy person to borrow money. I will harass them to return my book, should I part with it.

    Tough question, Ariana.

    • Ha, I love the liblrariy, I go there all the time, but I’m not good on returning books on time and I always have late fees 😦

      • totsymae1011 says:

        I’ve started to buy more books from Smashwords to support new authors and have found some really great talent I’d continue to purchase. I want to get a digital reader, so that it’s easier and lighter to carry many books. That would’ve been excellent for you in moving your books here. But then, I so love turning the pages of a book.

      • Thanks for the suggestion Totsymae , I will definitely check out the Smashwords, I’m not sure if I’m ready for e- reader yet, I still love the actual feel and smell of a book.

  2. Grace says:

    If I were in that situation, I’d say Dostoevsky for sure.

    • Thank you for visiting my blog. Ya Dostoevsky for sure! we had to read ” the Idiot” in school and I remember not getting one thing from that book and then I re-read the book in my adult years what a difference!

  3. Leah says:

    I would hate to part with my books! As it is now, I try to only keep the best books that really mean something to me. That being said, I probably couldn’t take my entire bookshelf. I’d take my master’s thesis, with is published as a book by my university printing press. I would take a few of the signed books that have meaning to me. And a few of my Judaism books.

  4. natty nook says:

    As terrible as it sounds, I didn’t bring a single book with you. But it’s probably because I never thought I’d stay here forever. I can for work, only for a year and a half. Now I’m slowly collecting Russian books. I have Bulgakov, Tolsoy’s War and Peace, RUssian fairy-tails, and a couple more… Every time my friends visit or ask what to send me, I ask for books.
    My farther-in-law has more Russian classics than I do. They are in English though!

    Great post.

    • Nowadays it so easy to get anything you want from Russia. When we left we had to give up our citizenship and I had no idea that I would ever be able to go back, so we tried to pack as many books as possible.

  5. Olga SE says:

    It’s so funny that you enjoy reading Russian books living in America while I adore books in English living in Russia. 😉

  6. I am fascinated with your description of people collecting books in the U.S.S.R. This is so interesting! It must be shocking to you to go to an American’s home and not see any books or very few books in the house. I used to have a large collection of books but over the years I have pared them down to several hundred of ones I feel I cannot live without. If I had to whittle that number down to ten or twenty I would have a very hard time! I know I could always buy a new copy of the book I leave behind but the new copy would never be the same as the one from home. There would be too many memories in the old book that could not be replaced.

    • Yes you are right, I remember being invited for dinner long, long time ago and the first thing I asked them where was their library, unfortunately they did not understand my question. I thought it was a language barrier.

  7. writingsprint says:

    Such a difficult choice! To answer your question, it would be the books that are closest to my heart, whether or not they’re the “greatest” books. When eBay became popular, I found three books from my childhood, early teens and late teens: Andrew Henry’s Meadow, Henry Reed’s Journey, and Fahrenheit 451. Those would be the first three. Thanks for such a thoughtful post.

  8. Cindy says:

    hmmmm, a very good question and a very hard one to answer. I too would take as many books as I could. However, I have not yet had to make any decisions about what to take or what not to take, since I chickened out and put everything into storage in South Africa. so far this has cost me a lot of money, but there are so many things that I would like to keep that I cant yet bear to sort it all out. althought o be fair, when I first left SA I did give a lot of things away. So one day when I have a home in the UK (which I hope will be soon), I will then have to sort out what is and isnt important anymore and part with some of my possessions. but I can say for sure….the books will have to make a new life in the UK 🙂

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