China Books

Recommend your favourite China book – Win a free book

We all have our favourite books about China, books that teach us more about this amazing culture that we are or want to be a part of. Books that help us make the decision to move to China and make our dreams come true. Books that make us laugh and relate to the author’s story.

Now it’s time to have our very first lucky draw here at Living a Dream in China and recommend your favourite books to me and other readers!

If you’re lucky, you can win a free digital copy of a new book called P.R.C  – Pretty Real China!

Writer and photographer Denis Lejeune lived in Chongqing for three years. Three long years. With 9 millions souls, the former capital of China numbered some… 200 Westerners and no foreign restaurant. The closest English bookshop was 300km away. Call it total immersion.

Lejeune had moved there hungry for novelty and eager to exchange, why not even share, with people from a culture known to be so different. Things, however, didn’t go to script.

In eight striking chapters, P.R.C – Pretty Real China documents his disillusion while unveiling a critical country which the West still only knows through quick clichés. The book is also available in French, under the title Le Pire du Milieu.

Denis Lejeune has published several books, in French and English, poems, short stories and numerous articles. His photographic work has toured China and France, and he is currently working on a visual book to complement P.R.C – Pretty Real China.

Now to the lucky draw rules:

1. Leave a comment to this post with your China book recommendation that includes the reason why you recommend this book. Remember to add the whole title of the book and the author.  Also remember to add your email!

2. Everyone has one ticket to the lucky draw.

3. The winner will be randomly chosen by me, everyone has a fair chance to win.

4. The lucky draw continues until Sunday 24:00 CST (that’s UTC/GMT +8 hours)

4. Results with the winner’s name and book recommendations will be live on Monday 14th October. The book will be delivered to the winner digitally, so you can start reading right away no matter where in the globe you are.

Good luck!


  • Becky

    Wild Swans by Jung Chang. It’s just amazing to me what 3 generations of women in China went through. From the foot bound grandma to the red guard mom and finally the daughter studying overseas. If it was fiction it wouldn’t be believable! haha

  • wallaby78

    Win an ebook or physical copy? I’ll go with The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck because it’s one of the first books I read about China.

    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    Because I have readers all over the world, it will be an ebook. I’ll add that piece of information to the post as well.

  • Chris_Waugh

    “Iron and Silk” by Mark Salzman. A memoir of his time teaching English and learning martial arts in Changsha in the early 80s. It’s a fascinating glimpse at what China was back then, partly because I recognised so much of the city he described (I lived in Changsha in 1999 and 2000), and partly because of how incredibly different his experience of Changsha was from mine.

  • R Zhao

    I LOVE Peter Hessler. For China newbies, especially those coming to teach English, I think “River Town” is a great pick. For those already familiar with China, I think Hessler’s “Country Driving” might be better. Before coming to China I also read “Wild Swans” by Jung Chang and really enjoyed it.

    I like Ha Jin for fiction; “Waiting” is a book that I won’t soon forget. For a look into the lives and hardships of late 20th century Chinese women, “The Good Women of China” by Xin Ran is heartbreaking. I recently read Gilman’s “Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven” (I hate the title and nearly didn’t read the book because of it) and it was a funny, yet terrifying account of two American women backpacking through China when it first reopened in the mid-80’s.

    R Zhao Reply:

    Oh sorry, was I suppose to pick just one? :)

    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    Share as many as you want to :) I’m going to have a huge reading list after this week!

  • Jonathan Cannovan

    Midnight in Peking: The Murder That Haunted the Last Days of Old China by Paul French.

    A first-rate murder story, a thrilling narrative. Hurtles along from one cliffhanger to the next. An account of the unsolved brutal murder of young Pamela Werner, in the last days before Peking fell to Japanese invaders.

  • Ellen

    Chinese Etiquette & Ethics In Business by Boye Lafayette De Mente!
    This book captured my attention in the first place and I haven’t regretted buying it. Athough the name suggests it is about business, it still concentrates on the underlying reasons (!) of why Chinese and China are the way they are. This book gives you a deep understanding of Asian cultures (in this case, Chinese then). Boye has published various books about the Korean, Chinese and Japanese culture. I believe, she is the professional in Asian studies.

  • c1re5an

    I’d say the 1st book I read about China was the famous The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. Before this one I had read lots of books about Japan, but none about China! I enjoyed that book because while reading it you really can see the importance of working hard and which are the valuable things in life.

  • Seija Sultan

    A spectacular photographic documentary
    “There is nothing in this world that does not change; nothing remains forever as it once was”. (Zhuangzi. 365-290 B.C.)

  • Robert Budzul

    Foreign Babes in Beijing by Rachel DeWoskin

    It’s been a while since I read it but I do remember being captivated by it. Many memoirs of life in China are good reading but the author in this case wasn’t just a backpacker or an English teacher. Well written. I suggest looking it up and reading the blurb; it won’t lie.

    R Zhao Reply:

    I second that book! I read it a long time ago but still remember it well. It was really interesting; I especially liked reading about what Beijing was like for a foreigner living there in the 1990’s.

    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    I just read this book this year and have it on my bookshelf. Really an interesting read!

  • Blossom

    I completely loved reading ‘Unsavory Elements: Stories of Foreigners on the loose in China’. Each story was totally captivating in it’s own way, with beautiful descriptions of what I term ‘psychological moments’ between foreigners and Chinese persons… a very special collection written by Tom Carter.

    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    I should absolutely read that book, haven’t done it yet. Thank you for reminding me!