One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is a pretty fast read. It's short and the language isn't difficult at all. In fact, this book uses fairly short sentences and lots of slang and curse words. You probably won't need to dig up a dictionary for this one. You may need some sort of history book though. The really tough thing about this book is that it assumes that you have some basic familiarity with Stalinist Russia. So before diving into this text, we'd recommend checking out some basic Russian history book/online resource, or use this super-handy guide (we here at Shmoop are shameless self-promoters). Once you have some basic understanding of the historical events discussed here, this book isn't overly difficult to read.