I am trying to take up a Russian reading project for the summer. However, I am having some trouble choosing a book to read! I have been searching for some time, but have not really found anything that meets my criteria. Perhaps someone here could point me in the right direction?
Allow me to explain my situation: I have been studying Russian for almost 4 years (two of those at university)... my grammar is reasonably solid, but of course vocabulary is always the undying problem.
My ultimate goal is to read Преступление и Наказание completely in Russian. I have already tried to do this, of course... however that did not go well; although I could understand it, the amount of time and effort needed to decipher even a paragraph just made it far too difficult for me at this point! Maybe sometime, but I hate to admit that right now it is just too hard...
I have recently finished Дядя Ваня, which I loved. It was pretty straightforward and easy to read, with help of a dictionary, of course! I thought it was very helpful because it uses a fairly standard, not-too-extensive vocabulary, and there are not too many complicated sentence constructions. I have also enjoyed some of Chekhov's short stories for the same reasons. But as much as I love Chekhov, I would like to branch out a little bit!
Anyhow, here is what I'm looking for with my next project. First of all, I'm interested in 18th-early 20th C literature in general. As I said already, I love Dostoevsky... but his writing is just too complicated for now. Tolstoy is good too, but I've heard that he uses a very extensive vocabulary, which I would also like to avoid. I've enjoyed Gorky and Turgenev's writing in English, but I'm not too sure what their writing in Russian is like.
I am not really against modern writing, I just don't know a lot about it... one of the only contemporary Russian authors I know of is Boris Akunin, but from quickly looking through his writing it looks like he is attempting to imitate an older writing style; that is, he uses a lot of vocabulary which isn't really mainstream. Not really a problem, but I don't want to wear out my dictionary! If I have to look up every other word, it becomes more "deciphering" than "reading." Basically I'm looking for something for adults (tired of fairy tales), book-length (need to get away from short stories!), easy to read (not too complicated grammar), common, useful vocabulary (not too much bad language and slang though).
If you have any suggestions I would be very appreciative!