Here are some books that will help you understand China.
All books on this list are nonfiction, except for The Good Earth.
Life and Death in Shanghai, by Nien Cheng
A dramatic account of one woman’s struggle to survive the Cultural Revolution.
Country Driving, by Peter Hessler
An amusing, informative look at a journalist’s life in a Chinese village and his trip in a rented car through remote parts of China.
River Town, by Peter Hessler
The author’s account of teaching English in a remote part of China.
The Private Life of Chairman Mao, by Dr. Li Zhisui
Stunning revelations about Chairman Mao, by his longtime doctor.
Factory Girls, by Leslie Chang
A Wall Street Journal reporter’s account of two years in the lives of young women who leave the Chinese countryside to work in factories.
The Man Who Stayed Behind, by Sidney Rittenberg and Amanda Bennett
The incredible story of Sidney Rittenberg, an American who stayed in China, joined the Communist Party, and was jailed in China for 16 years.
Sweet and Sour: Life in Chinese Family Restaurants, by John Jung
A look at the role that restaurants played in helping Chinese-Americans assimilate.
Southern Fried Rice: Life in a Chinese Laundry in the Deep South, by John Jung
The author’s story of growing up with his immigrant parents as the only Chinese in Macon, Georgia.
Red-Color News Soldier, by Li Zhensheng
Dramatic, secret photos of the brutality of the Cultural Revolution, taken by a photographer for a Communist Party newspaper.
KFC in China: Secret Recipe for Success, by Warren Liu
A look at what made KFC so successful in China.
The Good Earth, by Pearl Buck
This 1931 classic work shows how wars, famine and other events affect individual Chinese peasants.