Many of my friends complain that there is nothing good to read these days. I don't believe that's true, you just have to search a little harder or get a good recommend from someone. This book was recommended to me by Australian film director Baz Luhrmann after we struck up a conversation on Russian literature in which we had opposing views on the meaning of Crime and Punishment. I was not a fan of Crime and Punishment, it gave me a cold sweat, whereas I am a great fan of the great father of Russian literature, Tolstoy, who wrote so beautifully that no other author, in my not so humble opinion, can touch him. This book above, by Orlando Figes, is a great piece of historical work that weaves a wonderful fabric of the social history of Russia and pieces together many of the elements which sometimes seem disjointed if you read about one Russian subject matter without the other.
You can buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/Natashas-Dance-Cultural-History-Russia/dp/0805057838