These books and other resources are a great starting point to learn more about Ukraine and its culture. All are designed for English-language speakers. Look for them in large bookstores (if not on the shelf they can order for you at no extra charge) and gift shops and community centers in Ukrainian neighborhoods in cities with large Ukrainian populations. In association with, we have provided direct links to many of these titles.


Reference Books and Historical Essays

Encyclopedia of Ukraine, Volumes I through V, University of Toronto Press, 1984, 1993. This is the largest, most comprehensive and authoritative source of English-language information on everything Ukrainian ever published, the product of 20 years of research and collaboration by writers, scientists, and scholars from around the world. Items are alphabetically arranged; discussion is in-depth and illustrated with photos and maps. For more information, check out the Encyclopedia of Ukraine web site.

Ukraine: A Concise Encyclopedia, Vols. 1-2 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press 1963, 1971). This encyclopedia is a forerunner of the above. Amply illustrated with photos, drawings, and maps, the subject matter is topically rather than alphabetically arranged. The folk arts section is particularly strong.

Ukraine: A History, Orest Subtelny, University of Toronto Press, 1989, second edition 1994. third edition, 2000. If you can't find it online, any bookstore can order it for you. This in-depth examination of Ukrainian history from Kyivan Rus through modern times is highly readable. It was selected by Choice, a journal of reviews for college libraries in North America, as one of the "Outstanding Academic Books of 1989/90." The updates are valuable.

Borderland: A Journey through the History of Ukraine, Anna Reid, Westview Press, 1999. The author focusses on highlights of Ukrainian history as she examines the country's struggle to rebuild its national identity. Very fine reading.

The Ukrainians: Unexpected Nation, Andrew Wilson, Yale University Press, 2000. Ukraine's progress as a nation over time, with special attention to the complex relationship to Russia and since independence in 1991, the continuing disputes over identity, culture, and religion. Very worthwhile, especially for those with an interest in history.

Dilemmas of Independence: Ukraine after Totalitarianism, Alexander J. Motyl, Council on Foreign Relations Press, New York, 1993. This examination of the obstacles to nation-building confronting an independent Ukraine is lucid and insightful and should be required reading for all State Department Eastern Europe specialists.

Personal Stories

Assumptions and Misunderstandings: Memoir of an Unwitting Spy, Anne Bates Linden, Misto NV, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, Paperback with illustrations, 2006. A Peace Corps worker in western Ukraine not long after independence tells some fascinating stories. Reviewer Stepan Bandera, Journalist with News Channel:Time says "Anne Linden's assumptions upon arriving in post-Soviet Ukraine and the misunderstandings she encountered resulted in sometimes hilarious, sometimes frightening episodes. Her snapshot of Ukraine in the early 1990's provides a yardstick by which Ukraine's progress toward a more civil society can be measured. Anne's book will echo in the hearts and minds of anyone struggling with differences in language and culture. Her insights provide valuable lessons for those with dealings in Ukraine today."

Conscience Calls Roksolana Tymiak-Lonchyna, Vydavnytstvo “Ms” Publishers Lviv, Ukraine, 2005. This oversize hard cover book has 124 pages, profusely filled with fine photos by the author and her husband. Text alternates between English and Ukrainian. "Roksolana Tymiak-Lonchyna, a Chicago Ukrainian-American community activist, has written a highly-readable personal account of her experiences as an international election observer during this historic period for Ukrainians everywhere. She provides not only a fascinating account of what it was like to observe the elections in a difficult environment - the stronghold of Prime Minister Yanukovych - but also offers a glimpse into Ukainian life in three distinct Ukrainian cities - Lviv, Kyiv, and Donetsk. Her observations... and experiences ... throughout Ukraine provide interesting insights to life in Ukraine - the country of her parents' birth... Review by Orest Deychakivsky, Staff Advisor US Helsinki Commission

Return to Ukraine, Ania Savage, Texas A&M University Press, 2000. An American journalist traces her roots in Ukraine and reflects on her family's history as she recounts life in Ukraine about the time of indpendence. Masterfully written memoir, but the reader should be aware that much has changed in Ukraine since Savage's visit more than a dozen years ago.


Language and Travel Guide to Ukraine, 5th Edition, Linda Hodges and George Chumak, Hippocrene, published in spring 2011. A combination travel guide and phrasebook with everything a traveler to Ukraine needs to know. Contains details on Ukrainian culture, modern life, major tourist cities and smaller towns of interest. Booklist says it is "unique and should be invested in," and Library Journal listed it as "highly recommended," but more important, we have received many comments and notes of appreciation from satisfied readers! It will be available at a discount from

Check here for updates to the fifth edition.

Food and Culture

Traditional Ukrainian Cookery, Savella Stechishin, Trident Press Ltd., Winnipeg. Written by a Ukrainian Canadian home economist who drew upon recipes from pre-WWII Ukrainian cookbooks, this book first appeared in 1957 and has gone through at least 15 editions. It combines interesting historical and cultural information with a solid knowledge of cuisine and cooking techniques. More than 500 recipes for every part of the meal make this the basic Ukrainian cookbook -- the one to own if you have only one. However, the book is now out of print and used copies are rare and expensive. Try the Interlibrary Loan service. A reissue by her family is planned.

Festive Ukrainian Cooking, Marta Pisetska Farley, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1990. The emphasis in this very nicely researched book is on food for important occasions, primarily Ukrainian religious holidays. Recipes are presented in historical and cultural context; though fairly sophisticated, the recipes are well-written with thoughtful instructions.

A Collection of Traditional and Contemporary Bilingual Ukrainian Folk Songs, Carol Wookey, Julie Wookey, and Olga Walker, JRC Publications, Box 14, Cleardale, Alberta T0H 3Y0. If you'd like to learn to sing Ukrainian folk songs but don't know the language, this book is for you. It contains 76 popular Ukrainian songs with lyrics in Cyrillic, phonetic English transliterations, translations, the music, and some cultural notes.

Ukrainian Folk Costume, World Federation of Ukrainian Women's Organizations, Toronto, Philadelphia, 1992. This well-thought-out study of traditional dress divides Ukraine into 17 regions, showing embroidery patterns and men's and women's costumes for each. Presented in handsome, coffee-table large-format, this bi-lingual book contains beautiful color illustrations, many interesting photos from the early 20th century, and a glossary of terms.

Folk Art Magazine, "Narodne Mystetsvo," is a beautiful publication of the National Union of Folk Art Masters of Ukraine, an organization comprised of some 800 master artists. Written in Ukrainian, the articles are summarized in English and lavishly illustrated. They cover a wide variety of folk arts including painting, pottery, woodcraft, pysanky, weaving and much more. Click to see the covers and to read the table of contents of the available issues. To order, contact Art Ukraine.


The Sky Unwashed, Irene Zabytko, 2000. A fictionalized account of a family which experiences the effect of the Chornobyl disaster. Wonderful background on Ukrainian culture and society against this cataclysmic event. This novel has been highly praised by both critics and readers. (Click above to see enthusiastic comments.)

Everything Is Illuminated, Jonathan Saffran Foer, 2004. A young Jewish American hires a Ukrainian from a disfunctional family to help him find out what happened to his grandfather during the Holocaust. The book alternates between a comedic drive across the country and flashbacks to an 18th century shtetl, until the past and present converge in a bittersweet ending and "everything is illuminated." The story is stunning and skillfully told in a highly contrived manner. Nevertheless, this is a very moving and worthwhile read.

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, Marina Lewycka, Penquin Press, 2004, Two sisters who don't get along join together to rescue their elderly father from marrying a Ukrainian gold-digger who is 50 years his junior. In doing so, they learn about their parents' past in Ukraine and come to understand why they're so different from each other. A well-told, humorous story and a good read.

Language Aids

Interested in learning the Ukrainian language? These language aids can help.


PARS/U, an automatic translation software program translates printed or typed material from English to Ukrainian Cyrillic or from Ukrainian into English. This is a Windows-based program, which according to the publisher "takes into account all the structural, morphological, syntatic and semantic differences existing between Ukrainian and English languages." The price is about $349 USD.

FineReader is designed to go with a scanner to read Ukrainian text directly into your computer. It also works for these other languages: English, French, German, Spanish, and Russian. A spellcheck function is included for all languages. Cost is approximately $399 USD.


Colloquial Ukrainian, Ian Press and Stefan Pugh, Routledge, London and New York, 1994. A very nice text designed for self-study that covers the rudiments of Ukrainian grammar using examples and vocabularly useful for travelers. Two 60-minute cassettes recorded by native Ukrainian speakers are available to accompany the book. You can purchase either just the book or both book with cassette tapes.

Everyday Ukrainian, Zirka Derlycia, Audio-Forum, 1993. Ten cassettes (10 hours) and a 342-page text emphasizes practical, spoken Ukrainian. Each lesson, with its grammar and vocabulary, focuses on a different topic of interest to visitors to Ukraine. Text includes exercise drills, grammar appendix and glossary; the recordings are by native speakers.

Modern Ukrainian, Assya Humesky, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, 1990. A very good college-level text for first-year Ukrainian as a foreign language. Detailed attention to grammar, syntax, and pronunciation, with many exercises and dialogues.

Ukrainian-English Dictionary, compiled by C.H. Andrusyshen and J.N. Krett, University of Toronto Press, 1981. This huge (1163 pp) paperback dictionary is unsurpassed for translating Ukrainian into English. It captures the richness and beauty of the Ukrainian language, and includes root words, idioms, and Ukrainian proverbs.

English-Ukrainian Dictionary, M.L. Podvesko and M.J. Balla, Collets UK, 1980, is the largest English-to-Ukrainian dictionary in existence with over 65,000 words. Hardcover. Originally published in Kyiv during the Soviet era, it reflects the influence of the Russian language in Ukraine.

Ukrainian-English English-Ukrainian Practical Dictionary, Leonid Hrabovsky, Hippocrene Books, 1994. Many new, smaller dictionaries are coming on the market. While not as comprehensive as some, this pocketbook-sized dictionary with its large print and bold-faced type is a good, quick reference for those who already have some knowledge of Ukrainian.


Pimsleur's Speak and Read Essential Ukrainian I teaches spoken Ukrainian language to English speakers by means of audio cassettes. The course consists of 32 30-minute lessons on 16 cassettes in a handy carrying case, and sells for about $300. According to the publisher, Heinle & Heinle Enterprises, Inc., 30 Monument Square, #135, Concord, MA 01742, (508)369-7525, the learner will achieve an Intermediate-High level of spoken proficiency after completing the course at their own rate in a car, walkman, or on any cassette player, and will be fluent enough to participate in most business situations and in cultural experiences. (I've used this program and find it worthwhile. The lessons build up and repeat vocabulary and phrases one would use in everyday coversation in a way that reinforces memory without relying on constant repetition and drill. A few, but not many, vocabulary words are outdated -- apparently the tapes were made during the first years of Ukrainian independence.) The program also provides a small booklet of short word lists that are pronounced by the tape's speaker, allowing the learner to associate pronunciation with Cyrillic words. This may help with recognizing street signs, names of buildings, and reading menus, but there's no drill in reading and no writing in this Pimsleur course.

Newspapers, Videos, Mail Order Catalogs, Maps,

The Ukrainian Weekly, published by the Ukrainian National Association, Inc., 2200 Route 10, P.O. Box 280, Parsippany, NJ 07054, was founded in 1933 to serve a new generation of Ukrainian-Americans who did not necessarily read Ukrainian. Yearly subscription rate is $50 ($40 for UNA members.) To obtain copies or to subscribe, write the Ukrainian Weekly, Subscription Department, address above.

Map Link, a map distributor at 25 East Mason Street, Santa Barbara, California, 93101, carries a very detailed map of Ukraine for $6.95 plus handling and shipping. Tel. (805) 965-4402; Fax: (800) 627-7768.

Ukrainian Power is a series of Ukrainian language children's videos modeled after the "Sesame Street" program. The videos use original puppets in promoting the Ukrainian language and culture.

Videos of Ukrainian performing musical groups, both traditional and modern, are numerous. Travel videos in English tend to make up with lively music and pretty scenery what they lack in detailed narration. Two travelogues that cover a wide area of the country are Ukrainian Journey, (Universe Productions Inc., 1995, Vancouver, B.C., Tel. (604) 331-2505) and From Kiev to the Crimea: Along the Dnipro and the Black Sea, (Volodymyr Kuzyk, 1995, Kyiv, Ukraine). Golden Kiev, from Ukrainian Media Centre, Toronto, Tel. (604) 250-7216 is an in-depth look at Ukraine's capital city. Videos cost about $30 each.

Yevshan Ukrainian Catalog is a wonderful source of books about Ukrainian culture and history, children's books, literature in Ukrainian and in English, cookbooks, as well as Ukrainian language learning aids, videos, music on cassettes and compact discs, and art. Yevshan Corporation, Box 325, Beaconsfield, Quebec, Canada, H9W 5T8. Tel. 1-800-265-9858.

Bartholomew World Travel Map of Ukraine and Moldova is a detailed map of Ukraine from Bartholomew, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Web Sites

Here are some other web sites that are worth exploring:

Large Web Sites With Diverse Material

  • Check out Kyiv resident Rick DeLong's Ukraine Living, Work and Travel Guide, a diverse web site for a savvy explanation of Ukrainian culture and life. Geared toward those who plan an extended stay in Ukraine, it provides a wealth of information on the culture, finding a place to stay, business and language study opportunities as well as great photos of leading tourist destinations (such at the lilacs in May at the Botanical Gardens in Kyiv.)

    Travel Sites

  • Travel agencies specializing in Ukraine. Check out their interesting and informative web sites.

    Special Interest Web Sites

    Photography Web Sites

    Official Government Web Sites

    Mailing Lists and Newsletters

    Ukrainian Language and Culture Home Page