Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia - Orlando Figes I've been reading this book on and off for years, often re-reading the same passages since if you study just about anything related to Russia, you can use this book in a paper. It's an awesome book, and it should be obligatory reading in any Russian class. I love the way in which it is written, which shows immense skill and planning on behalf of Figes. Authors or composers are not just presented in the manner birth-life-death, but interwoven in a specific time frame. Each chapter jumps back and forth between a number of highly important characters, placing them in their cultural and historical setting with great insight.

This is the kind of book you can read just for fun. It's very easy to read, the language is not particularly academic or heavy, and there are no boring parts. It is, however, quite long ;)