November 25, 2021

Boltenko Law Reading Club: Winter 2021

Boltenko Law Reading Club: Winter 2021-2022

There are only very few things that beat having a great book to get through during a cold winter spell. Here are our latest recommendations.

The focus of our reading club is Russian and international wealth. We will also share with you our thoughts on what to read and listen to during the Christmas holidays.

Some of the books were suggested to us by friends and colleagues: many thanks to Andrew Terry from London, Gregg Robins from Geneva and Boris Ivanovich from the famous Moscow book shop Biblio-Globus.


1 – Letters from the Gulag: Why Life was Bad in the USSR
My father’s letters: Correspondence from the Soviet Gulag, by MEMORIAL. Granta Books; 304 pages.

“My Father’s Letters” tells the stories of 16 men who were imprisoned in the Gulag camps. This book through individual stories shows why Russians do not trust their government and – by extension – democracy in general.

2 – The Russian “The Decameron”: Why Life was Good in the USSR
Merry Life, or Sex in the USSR (“Bеселая жизнь, или секс в СССР” – only available in Russian), by Yuri Polyakov. AST; 576 pages.

This book is a great picture of life in the USSR of the early 80’s. Yuri Polyakov writes about the writers’ trade union in Moscow: this book is full of big intrigues, politics, and red tape. Lots of risky love adventures, too!

3 – Russia for Intellectuals: 19th Century Russia and Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy, by Andrei Zorin. Reaktion Books; 224 pages.

We met Andrei Zorin at a party in Moscow in 2005. What a brilliant mind, we thought! His intellectual excellence shines in this superb book, devoted to Leo Tolstoy. This book also provides insights into 19th century Russian culture.

4 – Money and Power: How to (not) Do Business in China
Red Roulette: An Insider’s Story of Wealth, Power, Corruption and Vengeance in Today’s China by Desmond Shum. Scribner; 320 pages.

What a book! Reads like a thriller, and paints a realistic picture of how money is made in non-democratic nations. Desmond Shum is one of China’s wealthiest men, and in this book he tells the story how he escaped poverty. This book is also recommended by Bill Browder.

5 – How to Make Money Effectively and What is Enough
The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel. Harriman House; 256 pages.

This is essential reading for anyone interested in being better with money. It also teaches you what is enough and when to give up on the idea that more is better. Our favourite quote from the book: “Wealth gives you control over your time; it gives you the freedom to wake up in the morning and do whatever you want.”

6 – What to Read for Christmas: Science Fiction
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. Ballantine Books; 476 pages.

Science fiction was our favourite genre in our school years (to my Russian friends: remember those grey and purple volumes of “Biblioteka Fantastiki”?!). “Project Hail Mary” is a great read for those of you who still want to dream big. Part scientific mystery, part dazzling interstellar journey, it is a tale of discovery, speculation, and survival. Barak Obama and Bill Gates are also fans.

7 – What to Listen to for Christmas: The Huberman Lab Podcast
Dr. Huberman, A. (Host). (January 2021 – present) The Huberman Lab Podcast.

Our favourite podcast ever. We have listened to every episode since the start. Andrew Huberman discusses neuroscience — how our brain and its connections with the organs of our body control our perceptions, our behaviours, and our health. If you would like to know why we now swim in cold water daily, listen to Episode 39.

About us

Boltenko Law is a boutique law firm for international families of Russian origin. The firm’s focus is to provide Russian clients with Russian, English, and international tax and wealth planning advice from Zurich.

Boltenko Trust is supporting clients of Boltenko Law in executing recommended solutions.

We take the first introductory call or meeting on no commitment basis; further work will be done on the agreed contractual terms.

Please contact Olga Boltenko ( and +41 79 900 2526) or Evgenia Martin ( and +41 79 126 3195) for further advice.