Books About China – Travel Memoirs, History, Fiction, Guidebooks


“I could understand ignorance, but I could not accept its glorification, still less its right to rule.”

From Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, by Jung Chang

How many books about China can you read when you travel to such a big country only for a month? And which ones do you read?

The choice is endless.

For one month we traveled to Beijing and to the northeastern provinces of the country (former Manchuria). I based my selection of books on this particular region, which brought me to the following selection. This is by no means a comprehensive list but gave me at least a general idea of the places we were traveling to.


Related Articles
Click on the links for more blog posts about the region:


History Books about Northeast China

Over the years I have bought a couple of books by Charles River Editors. They are a perfect buy if you want to have a clear, concise overview of a specific landmark or regional history.





Additionally I bought Twilight in the Forbidden City, by Reginald Johnston, the only foreigner in history to be allowed inside the inner court of the Qing Dynasty and shares his experiences there.
The Beach, Xingcheng

Travel Memoirs about Northeast Asia

I didn’t buy these books specifically for China but because of the whole North Asian region we are currently traveling in. These travel memoirs cover parts of Mongolia and China (and two of them Russia as well).




Wandu Mountain City.

Non-Fiction about China

When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order, by Martin Jacques

Not focused on the region we were traveling in but this book gives a good overview of modern China and a look into the future.

Martin Jacques also gave a TED talk about the topic. Find it here.


The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East, by Kishore Mahbubani

Whereas the above-mentioned book focuses on China, this book is about Asia at large in which China obviously plays an important part.


Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, by Jung Chang

Another book that is not about the region but a fascinating true story about three generations of women in the 20th century in China. It sold more than 13 million copies.


Mao: The Unknown Story, by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday

After Wild Swans, Jung Chang wrote another book, this time about Mao. Her bias is tangible throughout the book but nonetheless I found it another fascinating read about a subject I had learned way too little about in school.


Guidebooks about China

An armchair traveller’s history of Beijing, by Jonathan Clements

A different kind of guidebook with an extensive history section that helps to understand where current Beijing originated and how it evolved into the metropolis as it is today. The second part of the book has practical information on sites and food.


Lonely Planet Beijing Travel Guide


Insight Guides China. This guidebook provides a good read up on the country that helps you to make a choice on which region to focus.


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Tips, Suggestions, Feedback?

Do you have suggestions on books about Northeastern China that I should add to my list? I’d love to hear them. Feel free to share them in the comment section below or send me an email. Thanks!

Bus Station Shengyang

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