Seeing The “Real” Russia! The “Weekly Bookmobile” Arrives At “Midnight In Siberia”!

Time To Head To Siberia – The Bookmobile Boards The Legendary Trans-Siberian Railroad!

As we all know, there’s been ALL THIS TALK ABOUT RUSSIA. Yet, even with all that chatter, we discuss it as a thing, not as a country filled with hundreds of millions of people.

I love travel books, especially when they delve into the real lives of the people who live in the country being visited. In this case, a terrific book hears from the people of Russia about life there – and what they think of the US as well!

This week’s “Wednesday Bookmobile” boards the Trans-Siberian Railroad to see Russian life up close!

Midnight In Siberia! by David Greene

I loved the portrait of everyday Russian life that Greene captures in his writing.

Here is how Amazon describes the book:

“Travels with NPR host David Greene along the Trans-Siberian Railroad capture an overlooked, idiosyncratic Russia in the age of Putin.

Far away from the trendy cafés, designer boutiques, and political protests and crackdowns in Moscow, the real Russia exists.”

Cover crop

Far away indeed – and the further he travels, the more Greene sees the “real” Russia.

“Midnight in Siberia” chronicles David Greene’s journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway, a 6,000-mile cross-country trip from Moscow to the Pacific port of Vladivostok. In quadruple-bunked cabins and stopover towns sprinkled across the country’s snowy landscape, Greene speaks with ordinary Russians about how their lives have changed in the post-Soviet years.

What makes the book so compelling is that each chapter is named for a person he meets – it’s not a travelogue, it’s the story of a major superpower coming to terms with the past, present and future – Russians have endured far more challenges than we realize, and the people you meet are fascinating – concerned about their future but proud of who they are.

I think that’s one of the reasons the book clicked with me – by seeing how these “everyday” people live in Russia, it helps me realize that the US / Russia political shenanigans are just that – posturing between two leaders, while the rest of us live our lives and just want to raise children, grow careers and be happy.

Life in Russia is certainly not easy for many, and you get those stories in the book as well, as their industries change and the people struggle to adapt to new economic realities.

I’ve taken you to Siberia before – remember the coldest city on earth? It’s -88 degrees here! You can see where I am by clicking here:

https://johnrieber.com/2018/01/21/the-coldest-city-on-earth-frozen-eyelashes-88-degrees-welcome-to-oymyakon-siberia/

I also shared an amazing documentary about a year in the life of Siberians:

This incredible film is from Werner Herzog, who took an 8-hour Russian TV series and turned it into a compelling look at life in Siberia – see it here:

https://johnrieber.com/2013/07/18/into-the-wild-siberias-happy-people-werner-herzogs-new-documentary/

Finally, I have also taken you on many other trains as well, to places like this:

Yes, the legendary Travel Writer Paul Theroux took a train through Russia and ended up at the top of the world! click here to see where he ended up:


https://johnrieber.com/2017/05/09/a-train-to-the-roof-of-the-world-fascinating-paul-theroux-book-incredible-tibetan-pictures/

Check out “Midnight In Siberia” – it’s terrific, and let me know what you think of the “Wednesday Bookmobile” series!



Categories: Books / Media, Exotic Travel, Memoirs, Politics, Pop Culture, Travel, Travel Adventures, Travel Memoir, Uncategorized

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5 replies

  1. That sounds great! A good read (and I like Greene on NPR) to balance out what I know about Moscow (largely from A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW, I’m ashamed to say)–of course, that’s (fictionalized) history. Sounds like a great read. And I’ve seen that Siberia film by Herzog–my fave director. Hope to get another Bookmobile Wednesday adventure from you today!

    • I have posted about Happy People and Herzog is a terrific filmmaker – just posted my most recent Bookmobile, hope you enjoy it, and thanks as always for the comments – much appreciated!

  2. Great post John. I need to read these! As you know, mom was one of the first US citizens to visit Siberia after it was opened to visitors back in the early nineties. Pretty incredible.😊

  3. As you know, I have been to Russia a few times. It is such a huge country, that I flew across it for hours on end, and hardly touched the eastern regions. The population is diverse, with ancient cultures, and many languages. It is just not possible to think of it as a ‘thing’, as you rightly say.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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