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Enrich your travels with reading! Here's a hand-picked list prepared for your journey in conjunction with the book experts at Longitude.

Essential Reading

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Odyssey Guide Guizhou Province

by Gina Corrigan

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2002
  • PAPER

An in-depth guide to the history, culture and peoples of the subtropical Guizhou province in Southwest China, covering the textile arts and costume, jewelry, music and festivals in detail. With photographs and maps. (CHN321, $23.95)

The Forbidden City

The Forbidden City

by Geremie R. Barme | Mary Beard

  • HISTORY
  • 2012
  • PAPER
  • 288 PAGES

A compact, elegant volume in Harvard's excellent Wonders of the World series, this pocket history illuminates the culture, mystique, architecture and politics of imperial Beijing. Fittingly, the book opens with Mao's symbolic address from the Gate of Heavenly Peace. (CHN468, $16.00)

Understanding China

Understanding China

by John Bryan Starr

  • HISTORY
  • 2010
  • PAPER
  • 400 PAGES

A Yale professor's essential primer on the history, politics and economy of China. A succinct and refreshingly forthright best-selling guide, this third edition brings us right up to date with events in the rapidly evolving nation. (CHN196, $17.95)

Red Dust, A Path Through China

Red Dust, A Path Through China

by Ma Jian | Flora Drew

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2002
  • PAPER
  • 324 PAGES

An astounding memoir by an urban poet, painter and writer on the road to Tibet. A vagabond, rebel and Buddhist, Jian abandons his Beijing life for a 3-year southwestern journey through Tibet, Burma and Guizhou Province. (CHN150, $16.00)

China Adventure Map

China Adventure Map

by National Geographic

  • 2011
  • MAP

A double-sided, full-color map of China, at a useful scale of 1:4,375,000, which shows roads and cities. Printed on tear- and water-resistant paper. (CHN06, $11.95)

 
Beijing Map

Beijing Map


by Borch Maps

  • 2012
  • MAP

This laminated, folded map of Beijing, with a blowup of the city center at a scale of 1:24,000, notes 2008 Olympic venues. With detailed inset maps of the Beijing Metro, top sights, key attractions, an index and Chinese characters for key place names. (CHN199, $9.95)

Shanghai Map

Shanghai Map


by Periplus Maps

  • MAP
  • CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE
  • >

A map of Shanghai, at a scale of 1:15,000. Main streets shown in both English and Chinese (good for directing taxis!). (CHN90, $8.95)

Culture Smart! China

Culture Smart! China


by Kathy Flower

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2010
  • PAPER
  • 168 PAGES

This is a handy guide to local customs, etiquette and culture. (CHN434, $9.95)

Eyewitness Guide Beijing and Shanghai

Eyewitness Guide Beijing and Shanghai


by Eyewitness Guides

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2013
  • PAPER
  • 240 PAGES

This superb guide features color photography, excellent maps and a neighborhood-by-neighborhood overview of each city. (CHN385, $23.00)

Eyewitness Guide China

Eyewitness Guide China


by Eyewitness Guides

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2014
  • PAPER
  • 660 PAGES

This hefty illustrated guide to sites, attractions and places throughout China features excellent maps and hundreds of color photographs and site diagrams. (CHN242, $30.00)

Lonely Planet Beijing

Lonely Planet Beijing


by Damian Harper

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2013
  • PAPER
  • 272 PAGES

This practical guide to Beijing features maps, an overview of culture, history and nature, and a good deal of nuts-and-bolts information on excursions, accommodations and sightseeing. There's even a section on the locally spoken dialect of Mandarin. (CHN47, $22.99)

Lonely Planet Mandarin Phrasebook

Lonely Planet Mandarin Phrasebook


by Hua-Yuan L. Mowry | Justin Ben-Adam Rudelson

  • LANGUAGE & PHRASEBOOKS
  • 2012
  • PAPER
  • 256 PAGES

A handy phrasebook for basic Mandarin, focusing on pronunciation, grammar and essential vocabulary for the traveler. (CHN72, $8.99)

The Chinese Kitchen

The Chinese Kitchen


by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo

  • FOOD
  • 1999
  • HARD COVER
  • 452 PAGES

An authoritative compendium of Chinese recipes and food-oriented cultural practices. Eileen Yin-Fei Lo's cookbook doubles as an introduction to China itself. (CHN134, $39.95)

China, A Photographic Journey Through the Middle Kingdom

China, A Photographic Journey Through the Middle Kingdom


by Gu Guo

  • CULTURAL PORTRAIT
  • 2010
  • HARD COVER
  • 243 PAGES

This miniature edition of the oversized original includes the same 243 dramatic color photos and 12 panoramic foldout pages, showing China's monuments and landscapes. (CHN627, $17.50)

Life and Death in Shanghai

Life and Death in Shanghai


by Nien Cheng

  • HISTORY
  • 2010
  • PAPER
  • 560 PAGES

A plainly told account of the horrors of the Cultural Revolution in Shanghai from an author who was a six-year political prisoner. (CHN42, $18.00)

Postcards from Tomorrow Square

Postcards from Tomorrow Square


by James Fallows

  • HISTORY
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 288 PAGES

Ranging from politics to society and business, these richly observed, candid essays capture the complexity, tumult and promise of modern China. A correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, where these essays first appeared, Fallows and his wife moved to China in 2006. (CHN559, $15.00)

The Forbidden City, Center of Imperial China

The Forbidden City, Center of Imperial China


by Gilles Beguin | Dominique Morel

  • HISTORY
  • 1997
  • PAPER
  • 144 PAGES

This slim volume is packed with maps, archival photographs and illustrations. With a useful chronology and a carefully chosen selection of writings over the ages, it's an indispensable guide to the Forbidden City and the history of Imperial China. (CHN32, $15.95)

Ways of Being Ethnic in Southwest China

Ways of Being Ethnic in Southwest China


by Stevan Harrell

  • CULTURAL PORTRAIT
  • 2002
  • PAPER
  • 370 PAGES

A scholarly ethnography of the peoples of Southwest China, including the Nuosu (Yi), Prmi, Naze, and Han. With detailed case studies. (CHN271, $24.95)

Search for Ancient China

Search for Ancient China


by Corinne Debaine-Francfort

  • ARCHAEOLOGY
  • 1999
  • PAPER
  • 160 PAGES

With information on everything from jewelry to emperors' tombs and terracotta warriors, the Great Wall and the dazzling 400-year history of the Han Empire, this shirt-pocket survey of discovery features 150 illustrations. (CHN69, $15.95)

The Arts of China

The Arts of China


by Michael Sullivan

  • ART & ARCHITECTURE
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 352 PAGES

A lively survey of Chinese visual arts and culture through the ages, thoroughly illustrated and accessible. With a new chapter on the 20th century and beyond, this fifth edition covers bronzes, ceramics, painting and architecture from the Neolithic to now. (CHN16, $41.95)

China Road

China Road


by Rob Gifford

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 368 PAGES

NPR's Gifford writes with warmth and affection of his encounters with truckers, small farmers and regular folk along fabled Route 312 from Shanghai to the border of Kazakhstan. (CHN433, $17.00)

Mao Zedong

Mao Zedong


by Jonathan Spence

  • BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR
  • 2006
  • PAPER
  • 192 PAGES

Yale sinologist, writer and historian Spence tracks the life of the architect of the People's Republic from his provincial upbringing to his savage three-decade rule. (CHN66, $15.00)

Oracle Bones

Oracle Bones


by Peter Hessler

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2007
  • PAPER
  • 512 PAGES

In this fine portrait of tumult and tradition, Hessler (River Town) finds clues to modern China's realities in the personal stories of peasants, scholars, day laborers and activists. (CHN316, $15.99)

Red China Blues, My Long March from Mao to Now

Red China Blues, My Long March from Mao to Now


by Jan Wong

  • BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR
  • 1997
  • PAPER
  • 368 PAGES

Jan Wong tells of her experiences in the "hermetically sealed bubble of Maoism" as one of two westerners to attend Beijing University, then offers a first-hand account of recent reforms in China. (CHN37, $15.95)

The Last Days of Old Beijing, Tales from the New City

The Last Days of Old Beijing, Tales from the New City


by Michael Meyer

  • BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR
  • 2009
  • PAPER
  • 368 PAGES

Meyer's lovely memoir of the hutong (ancient lane) where he taught school captures the rhythms, traditions and spirit of Beijing's traditional neighborhoods south of Tiananmen. (CHN493, $18.00)

Wild Swans, Three Daughters of China

Wild Swans, Three Daughters of China


by Jung Chang

  • BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR
  • 2003
  • PAPER
  • 524 PAGES
  • FAVORITE

In this riveting tale of three generations spanning the end of Old China, Mao's regime and the Japanese occupation, Chang chronicles the enormous changes in China since 1929. (CHN04, $18.00)

China, A Traveler's Literary Companion

China, A Traveler's Literary Companion


by Kirk Denton

  • ANTHOLOGY
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 231 PAGES

An introduction both to China's finest modern writers and its diverse cultures, concerns and landscapes, organized geographically. (CHN520, $14.95)

Death of a Red Heroine

Death of a Red Heroine


by Qiu Xiaolong

  • MYSTERY
  • 2003
  • PAPER
  • 464 PAGES

Marvelously evocative of Shanghai and tremendously informative about China's transition towards a market economy in the 1990s, Inspector Chen of the Shanghai Police must find the murderer of a National Model Worker in this award-winning debut. The series continues with A Loyal Character Dancer (CHN412). (CHN374, $15.95)

Wild China

Wild China


by John MacKinnon | Nigel Hicks

  • NATURAL HISTORY
  • 1996
  • HARD COVER
  • 208 PAGES

A beautiful oversize book of photographs featuring Chinese wildlife and natural history. This informative, up-to-date survey also features excellent maps and detailed explanatory text. (CHN19, $39.95)

More Recommendations

Here are some other groups of books that might be of interest

Longitude provides recommended reading for travelers in partnership with the leading tour operators and travel programs for hundreds of destinations worldwide. We've got the classic, new and hard-to-find books and maps to help you get the most out of your adventures.