OVERALL: 2.5/5 

My musings

Russia has always been on my travel bucket list of must-visit places and so when an opportunity to read and review a travel writing book on Russia came my way, it was certainly a hard-to-resist offer. The author of the book is a travel blogger and vlogger who both blogs and vlogs about his travel adventures all over the world on his blog and on his Youtube channel by the same name.

Read on to know what I think of Anuj Tikku’s latest book, From Russia With Love and how was my experience of reading it.

What to expect?

Expect a book that is a very short read of just over fifty pages. Expect a book that takes you to the devilishly cold country of Russia along with some other eastern European countries. Expect a book that doles out a decent dose of practical advice and travel tips for those venturing into the cold sub-continent.

Finally, expect a book that doesn’t come without its own share of grammar mistakes, spelling errors and copy-editing issues.

Who can read?

The language of the book is simple and straight-forward which makes it easy for a beginner level reader to pick it up. Also, the book is written in a very lucid and flowy style which further enhances the reading pace.

Pictures that speak a thousand words

Just like many other travel books by the author Anuj Tikku, From Russia With Love doesn’t boast of professionally shot images, but the images in this book are definitely a notch above those included in the author’s other books.

I definitely remember the way I felt spell bounded when I first had a glimpse of the icy vast expanse that is the town of Tyumen in Siberia. It was breathtakingly beautiful. The vividly captured images of the many attractions of Ukraine and the hauntingly beautiful look of the now deserted town of Pripyat adds to the many positives of this book.

Let’s talk about the author’s writing style

I admire how the author remains candid in his narratives. His style is often conversational that leads to an easy camaraderie between the author and the reader. I admire how he talks without inhibitions about some very discreet experiences like conversations with prostitutes etc.

But I cannot shed the sour aftertaste that reminds me of the author’s tendency to objectify women while writing about them.

What did I like?

One thing that I like about Anuj’s travel books including this one is that he always looks for experiences that are vastly different from each other – be it getting immersed in the chilly weather of Siberia or exploring the dangerous radioactive ruins of the Chernobyl disaster, be it the historical tales of Rasputin or the architectural wonders of Ukraine – every single experience that you get to read about is unique and distinct.

What did I not like?

I simply did not like the way From Russia With Love is structured and planned. The chapters that introduce a particular leg of the journey are often placed at the far end. Most of the chapters are placed randomly with no adherence to a chronology either in terms of geography or time period.

While reading a travel memoir, a perfectly laid out chronology and itinerary is often the most important part of the experience. It surely helps if there is a rough map included at the beginning of the book that more or less charts out the whole journey.

In the case of From Russia With Love, however, the book seems to ignore some very important aspects.

Is the book interesting to read?

When I think of all those exciting places and their distinct appeal, all those mouthwatering dishes and their vivid detailings, all those amateurishly captured shots and their honesty – I do conclude that the book is an interesting read.

In the end

In the end, with its vividly captured pictures, candidly narrated travel experiences and a whole lot of insightful inputs, the book does have a decent appeal and can be picked up as a onetime read.

The final verdict

Can be read.

Pick it up

  • If you want to read about an Indian’s travel escapades in Russia and its neighboring Eastern European countries.
  • If you are looking for a really short read (just over fifty pages).
  • If you are a beginner level reader who happens to be a travel enthusiast.
  • If you are planning a trip to the chillingly cold country and are looking for tips and insights.

Skip it

  • If you don’t like nonfiction.
  • If you don’t enjoy travel writing.
  • If you aren’t interested in reading a travel memoir about Russia.
  • If you are looking for a much more detailed and nuanced read.
  • If you can’t stand books that have copy-editing and proof-reading mistakes.

Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of From Russia With Love using the link below.