Leo Tolstoy Books to read once in a lifetime

About author

Leo Tolstoy was a Russian writer who is regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time, not only in Russia but also worldwide. He was born in aristocratic Russia family in 1828, he is best known by the book War and Peace and Anna Karenina, often cited as pinnacles of realistic fiction.

His conversion from a dissolute and privileged society author to the non-violent and spiritual anarchist of his later days was caused by his experience in the army and his two trips around Europe.

In this post I collect his the most known works but there are also others, not so known and available. For people who love to read novels which makes you think about, Tolstoy`s books are very good decision.

War and Peace

‘If you’ve never read it, now is the moment. This translation will show that you don’t read War and Peace, you live it’ The Times

The book War and Peace is one of the most well-known novels of all times and it`s timeless. It is a vast epic story centered on Russia`s war with Napoleon and its effects on lives who were caught up in the conflict. It expresses Tolstoy`s view that history is an inexorable process which man can not influence.

Tolstoy creates some of the most vital and involving characters in literature when he follows the rise and fall of families in St. Peterburg and Moscow who are linked by their personal and political relationship. His heroes are the thoughtful and impulsive Pierre Bezhukov, his ambitious friend Prince Andrei and the enchanting Natasha Rostov, the woman who become indispensable to both of them.

Link to a Paper Book and to an eBook.

Anna Karenina

It was the year of 1872, the mistress of neighbor landowner threw herself under a train at the station near Tolstoy`s home. This gave Tolstoy an idea for composing a book which many people believe, it is the greatest novel of all times.

Anna Karenina seems to have everything; beauty, wealth, popularity and an adored son. But in her life she feels emptiness until the moment she encounters the impetuous officer Count Vronsky. Their love affair scandalizes society and family and brings jealousy and bitterness to life.

This story about love and self-destruction is a vividly observed story of Konstantin Levin, a man searching for contentment and meaning to his life – and also a self-portrait of Tolstoy himself.

Link to a Paper Book and to an eBook.

A Confession

A Confession is an autobiographical book of exceptional emotional honesty which is describing Tolstoy`s depression and estrangement from the world. It shows his search for `a practical religion not promising future bliss but giving bliss on Earth`.

Although the Confession led to his excommunication, it also resulted in a large following of Tolstoyan Christians springing up throughout Russia and Europe. It is in some way the reexamination of Christian orthodoxy and subsequent spiritual awakening.

Link to a Paper Book and to an eBook.

The Gospel in Brief

This book is Tolstoy`s integration of the four biblical Gospels into a single account of their life of Jesus. In large measure it was inspired by Tolstoy`s meticulous study of the original Greek version of the Bible.

This book is a highly original fusion of biblical texts and Tolstoy`s own influential religious views. He explains that his goal is a solution to the “problem of life” which is not an answer to theological or historical questions. The author focuses on the words and teachings of Jesus, stripped of what Tolstoy regarded as the Church`s distortions and focus on dogma and rituals.

This book emphasizes the necessity of maintains human`s spiritual condition in chaotic and indifferent world.

Link to a Paper Book and to an eBook.

The Death of Ivan Ilyich

Tolstoy`s most famous novella is an intense and moving the examination of death and possibilities to redemption in a powerful translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. It is a masterpiece of psychological realism and philosophical profundity.

Ivan Ilyich is a middle-aged man who spent all his life focused to his career as bureaucrat and emotionally attached from his wife and children. After one accident he finds himself on the brink of a death, what he sees as terrible unjustice. Challenging with his mortality, Ivan begins to question everything he has believed about the meaning of life.

Link to a Paper Book and to an eBook.

Family Happiness and other stories

Leo Tolstoy didn’t write only voluminous works, he was also master of the short and the long story – the Russian name for it is `povest`. These works display the author`s perspective on love, marriage, art, politics and patriotism.

Each one of the tales in this collection exhibits the rich detail, vivid narrates and the truth which characterize all Tolstoy`s novels. The collection includes stories; The Three Hermits, Three Deaths, Family Happiness, The Devil, Father Sergius and Master and Man.

Link to a Paper Book and to an eBook.

Tolstoy`s Stories for Children

Maybe people don’t expect this but Tolstoy has written also stories for children. This collection of literature attempts to compile many of the classic, timeless works that have stood a test of time.

In a variety of tales for young readers, he presented his vision for a more human and socially just society.

Link to a Paper Book and to an eBook.

Image credits: https://www.bookdepository.com/



  1. Loved you review and I love to read about books. Tolstoy was one of my favorite writers of his time. When i was younger I read twice Anna Karenina and once War and Peace. it is so good to see people talking aboutartists like Tolstoy that have gretly contributed to the world of literature. 

    I did not know he wrote chicldren’s books that was a surprise for me but it goes to show you alwasy learn something new every day

    • Hi Barbara,

      you read both books, War and Peace and Anna Karenina, that`s excelent 🙂 I appreciate that you like my post and thank you very much for your comment!

  2. War and Peace. As a lover of classic novels, this is the one work I have yet to read. I’ve read many other classics, such as Orwell’s 1984, or Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, among others. For someone who writes his own fiction about war and conflict, it’s a shame I haven’t yet gotten to this book. I’m not as familiar with Leo Tolstoy’s other works, but War and Peace is one everybody has at least heard about if they haven’t yet read the work. 

    • Hi Todd,

      I agree, War and Peace is a great book, but it has many pages so you need to take your time. I need to check out for the book by Harper Lee, good that you mention it. Thank you for taking your time and leave a comment.

  3. I am a great fan of Leo Tolstoy; and I have been reading his books for the past two year. I am alwats motivated whenever I take my time to read his books. A quote say readers are leaders.

    The best of his books I have ever read is “A confession”, I read the book more than twice because its quite emotional. I will lay my hand on other books listed in the article.

    Thanks for sharing 

    • Hi, very nice to hear that you are a fan of Tolstoy. Good that you mention the book A Confession, I need to read it cause I still didn`t. Thank you for taking your time and leaving a comment.

  4. Definitely familiar with War and Peace, and would consider it as a re-read since it’s been so long since I was first introduced. Never really looked for other titles by this author at the time, but I’m interested in reading a few that you have listed here. I recall hearing of Anna Karenina a few years back, and forgot about it over time, so I’m glad that it was mentioned here. I also find it interesting that he wrote stories for children. I think I’m most intrigued by that, and will research that book next. Thanks for the recommendation!

    • I appreciate that you like my post and you find here some other ideas what books to read. Thank you for taking your time and leaving a comment.

  5. What an interesting read! I’m excited to learn about the history of Leo Tolstoy and how his upbringing influenced his work. I have not heard of the book “War and Peace”, but I’m very curious to read through it. In my opinion, books that tell true historical stories are the most immersive and beneficial to read. I agree that anyone who is an avid reader should get to read this book at least once in their lifetime. Tolstoy has a wide range of published books, and any one of them seems like it would be a great addition to my personal library.

    • Hi Kristina, I`m glad to hear your opinion. You really get the point when you said that such books are the most beneficial to read. Thank you for taking your time and leaving  a comment.

  6. I’ve read Anna Karenina and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Actually, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  I love how it explored so many different topics. 

    I’m looking forward to reading a couple of the other books Tolstoy has written… such as A Confession and The Gospel in Brief.  I’m interested to see what his views are and how he approaches them within those topics.  

    • Hi, great that you like Anna Karenina, I agree that it`s a great book. Thank you for taking your time and leaving a comment.

  7. Wow i love this article..

    I have been searching through different e but they are not encouraging.. I am interested in Leo Tolstoy’s books and I’m most intrigued by the book Anna Karenina and I will definitely get a few books for the kids. ..kudos to the writer..

  8. I am what all of my friends call a ‘bookworm’, but I must confess that I have never read a Leo Tolstoy book. I’ve seen a few of the movies but always thought that was enough, and that maybe a Russian author wouldn’t be my cup of tea. Well, after reading your article, that’s about to change. 

    I just purchased Anna Karenina through your post. I think I’ll start with that story before I tackle “War and Peace.” I am so glad that I found your website and I will be sure to bookmark it. Do you have a ‘discussion’ section on your site where readers can talk about the books? Thank you again!


    • Hi Sue,

      so you are also a bookworm, nice to hear that 🙂 I really appreciate that you like my website and my post.

      You purchased Anna Karenina through my post, that`s so great but can you please tell me through which link or banner you clicked? Cause it seems it didn`t recognized it and I need to check out.

      Beside comment section under the post I don`t have a section for discussions but that`s actually good idea.

      Thank you for taking your time and for leaving a comment.

  9. Good evening Luka,

    It is already many years ago when I read War and Peace and also Anna Karenina. When I was young it was a must-read. Later on, I saw quite a couple of movies, the old ones and then more modern versions of both books.

    I think I would be interested in 2 books on your list I do not know.

    A Confession. It caused Tolstoy his excommunication. In those times no freedom of thought/speech, well, it has not changed much.

    The Gospel in Brief. The focus on the teachings of Jesus and not the often distorted version presented by the church. That is probably along the line of my beliefs too.

    Regards, Taetske

    • Good evening Taetske,

      as you mentioned that you read Anna Karenina and War and Peace, I also remember that it was a must read in school but I don`t know if we read the whole book, both books have so many pages 😉 It would be nice to read again.

      Thank you for taking your time and leaving a comment.

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