It’s hard to find anyone who watched the first season of Russian Doll who wasn’t blown away by the masterful plot—and Natasha Lyonne. Lyonne, who stars in the Netflix series, (as well as helped write and direct it), plays Nadia Vulvokov, a woman who dies repeatedly only to relive her 36th birthday party.
Lyonne’s ability to deliver amazing one-liners is matched only by her incredible on-screen vulnerability. Even when the character is at her worst, you’ll root for her to get out of the time loop and make a better life. Each short episode reveals another layer to Vulvokov, a video-game developer with a substance abuse problem, until we’re left with her true self—the heart of the Russian Doll.
Sadly, Season 2 has been delayed due to the pandemic. While we’re waiting for the series to return, here are six books matched with a Nadia Vulvokov quote to keep you dreaming of this recurring universe in the meantime.
6 Russian Doll Quotes Paired with a Book
- “It’s my bad attitude that keeps me young.”
The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn
Like Nadia, Patrick Melrose had a terrible childhood and used drugs to cope with the trauma. Though Melrose grew up in luxury while Nadia’s mother peddled away even her college fund, both characters’ instability, verbosity, wit, and rampant drug use match well. The five Patrick Melrose novels take you over the course of a complex, heartrending, and terrifyingly outrageous life until you’re left with an older, perhaps wiser Melrose trying to recover something of that small child we see in the first book.
2. “Humanity…a little bit overrated, no?”
The Wall by Marlen Haushofer, Translated by Shaun Whiteside
An enormous wall comes down over the earth, and an unnamed middle-aged woman is the sole survivor. (Think Stephen King’s Under the Dome, and you’ll understand the plot.) She lives with her dog, some cats, and a cow on an isolated farm and must somehow survive, counting down the matches she has left in the box. I’m pretty sure even Nadia would be rethinking her aversion to humanity at this point, but not our narrator. If you thought quarantine was hard, this book will leave you questioning the purpose of other people altogether. What does it mean to be human with no one else around?
3. “The universe is trying to fuck with me. And I refuse to engage.”
Stephen Florida by Gabe Habash
Stephen Florida is a college wrestling student who believes greatness is within reach. He’s only got to win his last wrestling championship and do everything right. I have always had, and continue to have, zero interest in wrestling; still, I loved the book. Florida has such a unique voice that you’ll have a hard time getting him out of your head. But worry not. His vision and determination make him a character you won’t mind spending extra time with. It’s tempting to pull a quote from the book here, but this is Nadia’s show, not Stephen’s. Gabe Habash puts such gorgeous one-liners in Florida’s mouth that even the writers of Russian Doll would be impressed.
4.“Being a person is a fucking nightmare.”
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, Translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori
Keiko Furukura is 36 and still working at a Japanese convenience store. It’s not considered a respectable, grown-up job, sort of like how working at McDonald’s post-high school is often (wrongly) viewed in America. Friends and family pressure Furukura to get a new job, but she loves it and doesn’t understand why she has to leave. Relationships are difficult for Furukura and dating is a nightmare (Hello? Nadia can so relate), but she finds her own way to navigate this world to get the life she craves.
5. “Hey, bartendress! Hello. Uh, more drunk please.”
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
Even this 19th century gothic romance can relate. It’s a feminist’s manifesto, one that might not be obvious to modern audiences, but shocking nonetheless for its time. In fact, Charlotte Brontë, the more famous and (apparently) more respectable Brontë, tried to erase this one from history, preventing its republication in England until 1854.
Today, the classic is widely available, though lesser known than Charlotte’s Jane Eyre. The book’s main character, Mrs. Helen Graham, runs away from her brute of a husband to Wildfell Hall, where she supports herself by painting. The husband’s such a bad actor that his fellow drinking friends turn on him in the end, something Nadia would do well to pay attention to.
6. “Thursday. What a concept.”
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yōko Ogawa, Translated by Stephen Synder
While Nadia’s worried she’ll never get to experience another Thursday, the main characters in this novel have a different sort of time problem. The professor, a math genius, had a terrible accident that left him with only 80 minutes of short-term memory. To him, it’s still 1975. When his sister-in-law hires a new housekeeper with a 10-year-old son, the pair is able to breach that 80-minute divide and form a real friendship with the professor. Even though his memory begins to worsen, it’s the first time the professor has been able to move on from the accident in any meaningful way.
It’s Thursday, finally. What a concept.
Looking for another great show to pair with a book? Try The Best Fleabag Quotes Paired with a Book.