Grigory Ryzhakov – Russian Writer

Literature as a medicine for our stagnation

Books on the power-line by Katja Ullrich (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

One may ask why reading as a past-time is still essential now.

As a society, we don’t question the importance of reading as a tool of personal development, of building a view of the world and understanding of science, culture and ethics. But gradually reading is becoming just an educational tool for young people and it seems to be dispensable for the well-being of adults.

There is a concept of ’reading for pleasure’, which I particularly dislike. With the onset of digital revolution and the blossom of all forms of entertainment, reading seems to have lost its dominant role as a form of media. But how does it affect us?

An average person nowadays is constantly and increasingly bombarded with information, and after a hard day’s work all we need is to relax and watch a show that would entertain our old brain: anything to deal with food, sex or danger (violence/politics).

Most of the readership prefers lighter reads, romance or thrillers, and literary fiction is considered boring and only  suitable for intellectuals. Our attention span is short: a three minute video on YouTube or a ten seconds  read per post on Facebook or split second flips through Instagram shots (that sometimes last for hours) would do. We are flipping through our lives, often unable to stop and ponder over important things.

Are we losing the ability to process information in a thorough way outside our jobs? I think we do. We don’t like challenging reading, our brain resists it; we are trained to react quickly to small and easily digestible bits of information. This robs us of richness of the literary world, of the world itself.

Biggest minds of the mankind spent months and sometimes years to complete their pieces of work. And thanks to digital technologies, we can now instantly access this distilled thought of writers from many countries and nurture our own thinking process. We can evolve our minds and imagination, create bolder things, achieve more in life and bring up a better, smarter next generation.

I love meeting with readers and writers, with people who adore words, to whom books are often like friends. I spot voracious readers easily: their lexicon easily exceeds a thousand words, they are often erudites, so you never run out of conversation topics with them.

Another important aspect of reading is understanding other cultures. We often get stereotypical judgements from the news about various countries and mentalities. Reading books by foreign authors allows you to see the culture as it is, rather than receive one-sided and superficial projections as in TV reports.

RusLitGuide-RyzhakovAnd I’m happy that I myself contributed to bridging cultures with publishing my guide on modern Russian literature. Yes, it is finally out on Kindle and in print.

Russia has a troubling image in the news, but the country is not defined by the Kremlin only, it stretches across 17 million square kilometers of land and comprises of hundreds of nations. I hope more readers will now discover modern Russian authors and learn about Russia from insiders and Russia’s greatest minds.

If you have read the guide already and found it useful, please recommend it to other readers and leave a review of it on Amazon or Goodreads. Spread the word about literature, Russian or any other.

Because, reading is fundamental.


Your brilliant thoughts


  • Jeff Mennell

    Succinctly made points which I wholeheartedly agree with. I worked in a library for thirty years and it is true that the majority of readers prefer to read thrillers/murder/chick lit. The ‘Classics’ book section was so undisturbed and static to the extent that it was a noteworthy occurrence if a book from it was checked-out. Sometimes it would be a student with a reading list for a lit course they were enrolled upon. Usually they would have little interest in literature, sadly the course was simply a means to an end.


    • GrigoryRyzhakov

      Thank you for your comment, Jeff. I don’t really know how to make literary fiction more popular, but I guess screen adaptations and more appealing book covers are always helpful. But what else? Some kind of literature fashion? Revival of literary salons? It’s not like the book clubs are rare these days…

      • Jeff Mennell

        I fear it may be losing battle and it’s not just literature it’s reading in general. For example, globally, public libraries have a similar problem as book issues decrease year after year. The response has been to diversify library buildings and offer additional services such as free internet, coffee bars, DVD’s and computer games in an effort to entice people through the doors. The idea behind this is that they might notice THE BOOKS and be interested enough to borrow some. It doesn’t work. The ‘library’ becomes marginalized and is seen as of secondary importance. Many library services have bought a training package called ‘Frontline’ which aims to instruct staff on how to create book displays and posters etc to draw people to book sections leading to more loans etc. yet book issues continue to decrease. So what to do??

        • GrigoryRyzhakov

          I don’t know what is to be done, I don’t thik all people are prone to enjoy reading, but it could be a cultural fad and the society’s rmodels may inspire people to read. We need more writers on talk shows :))

          • Jeff Mennell

            Russell Brand is er….’a writer’ and always seems to be on talk shows. And he’s a cultural fad! :-0

  • Elisabeth van der Meer

    Fantastic article! I’m looking forward to reading more of your work. For reasons I can’t explain, I have always loved Russian literature, but I’m not very familiar with the modern stuff. It’s good to know that there’s a lot to discover still.
    I certainly can’t imagine a life without books, but yes, the world is changing and it’s challenging to get potential readers convinced. But like you, I took up that challenge at the beginning of this year with my blog about Russian literature.
    Keep writing!

    • GrigoryRyzhakov

      Thank you for your kind comment , Elizabeth. It’s great to meet a fan of Russian literature 🙂

      • Elisabeth van der Meer

        Thanks for mentioning me on Google+, I appreciate it:-)

        • GrigoryRyzhakov

          Well, that is what this community is for, so feel free to share your blog posts there 🙂