For non-fiction I liked The Oracle Bones, Foreign Babes in Beijing: Behind the Scenes of a New China.
Fiction Wild Swans by Jung Chang, Waiting by Ha Jin, The Good Earth Pearl S. Buck.
The guide I took was Eyewitness Travel Guide’s China – it was a good one.
For history there is an extensive course at the teaching company call “From Yao to Mao” that I found very interesting. You can download it our order CDs if you’re into that kind of thing.
I went with a Smithsonian tour and they developed a reading list with many other thing on it as well in conjunction with http://www.longitudebooks.com. They specialize in travel books and have a good lists by destination you might want to check out.
I’m reading “Foreign Babes in Beijing” now, it’s okay. Paul Theroux’ books have been recommended to me but I haven’t tried them yet (non-fiction train travel through China). I liked Amy Tan’s work & “Wild Swans” too, they’re fiction but give a nice background on Chinese culture & customs.
I brought a lot of guides on my trip: Lonely Planet China (good), Eyewitness China (also good but less info on small towns, easy layout maps for big tourist attractions like Forbidden City), and I used Lonely Planet Encounter guides for the major cities so I didn’t have to drag the big books along when out on the town (good but the maps are lacking in detail)
I really like Wild Swans as well – I thought that was non-fiction though? Or maybe just mostly non-fiction/based on her family’s experiences I guess…
The DK Eyewitness Travel Guides to everywhere rock!
if you can read chinese, http://www.dianping.com is not too bad
Are you planning on visiting Hong Kong?
If you’re interested on architecture, you have a great landscape to see from «Kowloon».
Everyday at 8 PM, they highlight the buildings so we can see their architectural caracteristics.
It’s worth seeing!
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