10 books like My Several Worlds

By Pearl S. Bucks,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like My Several Worlds. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

Two Kinds of Time

By Graham Peck,

Book cover of Two Kinds of Time

This book is the comparatively underrated one among my five choices, but I guarantee it worthwhile. Peck went to China in 1935. He served in the U.S. Office of War Information in China throughout the 1940s. This memoir chronicles his life in China from the beginning of the Japanese invasion to the end of the Pacific War, during which the U.S. was the ally of the Nationalists, who lost to the Communists in the following years. The China Peck described was a sleepy, isolated world, characterized by apathetic people, rampant corruption, and senseless internal friction. When the book first came out in 1950, the Communists took over China a few months ago, and the Americans were in a hot debate, “Who lost China?” The valuable historical and political information Peck provided in this book offered a unique voice to answer the burning question. His opinion of China could be summarized…

Two Kinds of Time

By Graham Peck,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Two Kinds of Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Graham Peck (1914-1968) made his first trip to China in 1935 and served with the U.S. Office of War Information in China throughout the 1940s. His memoir, Two Kinds of Time, first published in 1950, is witty and eloquent in both its words and the drawings with which it is lovingly illustrated. Long out of print in its unabridged version, this engagingly written eye-witness narrative of China on the eve of revolution remains an important source of historical and political information. Robert A. Kapp's new Introduction analyzes the book's original contribution and highlights its relevance to issues in the twenty-first…


Red China Blues

By Jan Wong,

Book cover of Red China Blues: My Long March from Mao to Now (Anchor Books)

Growing up in Canada, left-winged Wong dropped out of university and flew to China in 1972 to participate in the Cultural Revolution. But she was soon disillusioned by the reality of a police state and the hypocrisy dominating everyone's life, from which even she, as a foreign nationality, couldn't escape. However, Wong remained in China and eventually worked as a journalist for Canada’s The Globe and Mail. When the Tiananmen Protests happened in 1989, she tracked down and interviewed dissidents and eyewitnesses. This memoir covers her active years in China from the 1970s to the 1990s, during which China was undergoing a sweeping change from Mao’s era to Deng’s era. It is a prelude to China's marching toward its economic prowess.

Red China Blues

By Jan Wong,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Red China Blues as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jan Wong, a Canadian of Chinese descent, went to China as a starry-eyed Maoist in 1972 at the height of the Cultural Revolution. A true believer--and one of only two Westerners permitted to enroll at Beijing University--her education included wielding a pneumatic drill at the Number One Machine Tool Factory. In the name of the Revolution, she renounced rock & roll, hauled pig manure in the paddy fields, and turned in a fellow student who sought her help in getting to the United States. She also met and married the only American draft dodger from the Vietnam War to seek…


Country Driving

By Peter Hessler,

Book cover of Country Driving

The first step to enriching perspectives on China is to go there—something more difficult in times of COVID and political tensions. One of the most pleasant virtual visits is to take a back seat as Peter Hessler roams the Great Wall backcountry. He does American things in an un-American place: getting a driver’s license, renting a car, meeting hitchhikers, countryfolk, and their city kids. He moves on to the factories, and we meet the Chinese that put the “Made in China” label on our daily world. Hessler is a regular at the New Yorker, is living in China, and always a good read.

Country Driving

By Peter Hessler,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Country Driving as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After living in China for five years, and learning the language, Peter Hessler decided to undertake an even more complicated endeavor: he acquired his Chinese driving licence. An eye-opening challenge, it enabled him to embark on an epic journey driving across this most enigmatic of countries. Over seven years, he travelled to places rarely explored by tourists, into the factories exporting their goods to the world and into the homes of their workers. Full of extraordinary encounters and details of life beyond Beijing, it is an unforgettable, unique portrait of the country that will likely shape all our lives in…


Little Soldiers

By Lenora Chu,

Book cover of Little Soldiers: An American Boy, a Chinese School, and the Global Race to Achieve

This book deals with the new challenge brought by the Chinese education system. As an American journalist dispatched to Shanghai, Chu chose an unconventional way of educating her son by enrolling him in an elite state-run public school instead of an international school. This memoir delineates her navigating inside China's high-achieving yet somewhat insular education system. When the Chinese use military-like high-pressured techniques to educate their students and "out-educate" the Americans, people couldn’t help but wonder if the Chinese educational philosophy could teach the world a lesson or two. Chu discovered that the Chinese system was designed to weed out the incompetent, and as a result, every student who successfully entered higher education was a fighter and survivor. Educational practices reveal the core value of a society. Chu raises an important question in an increasingly flattened world as to how to raise American kids to compete globally. 

Little Soldiers

By Lenora Chu,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Little Soldiers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I couldn't put this book down. Whip smart, hilariously funny and shocking. A must-read'
Amy Chua, Yale Law Professor and author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

In 2009, Lenora Chu, her husband Rob, and toddler Rainey, moved from LA to the Chinese megacity Shanghai. The US economy was spinning circles, while China seemed to be eating the planet's economic lunch. What's more, Shanghai teenagers were top in the world at maths, reading and science. China was not only muscling the rest of the world onto the sidelines, but it was also out-educating the West.

So when Rainey was…


History in Three Keys

By Paul Cohen,

Book cover of History in Three Keys: The Boxers as Event, Experience, and Myth

This book is by a man who has done as much as anyone to shape how historians approach the study of modern China. Here he not only looks at the rise and fall of the infamous Boxers (1898-1900) but also what the Boxer movement felt like to its various participants at the time, and finally the many strikingly different ways (myths) later generations have understood the Boxers. I learned how to better think about history from this book.

History in Three Keys

By Paul Cohen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked History in Three Keys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A comprehensive look at the Boxer Rebellion of 1898-1900, a bloody uprising in north China against native Christians and foreign missionaries.


The Origins of the Boxer Uprising

By Joseph W. Esherick,

Book cover of The Origins of the Boxer Uprising

If the White Lotus marks the beginning of China’s rebellious nineteenth century, the Boxer Uprising (1900-1) emphatically brought it to its end. This account of the Boxers, written by scholar Joseph Esherick, although the oldest of the books recommended here, almost certainly served as their intellectual forerunner. Esherick’s iconoclastic approach upended traditional descriptions of the event and indeed transformed the way that scholars of China viewed rebellions as a whole. Moving away from the well-worn western perspective of the very missionaries and diplomats who were the targets of the anti-foreign, anti-Christian, and anti-modern movement, Esherick offers a richly textured description of the Boxer’s fantastical religious impulses and harsh social context. In this way, The Origins of the Boxer Uprising rich and vivid telling of the Boxer’s “Society of Harmony and Justice” is as exciting today as the day it was published.

The Origins of the Boxer Uprising

By Joseph W. Esherick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Origins of the Boxer Uprising as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the summer of 1900, bands of peasant youths from the villages of north China streamed into Beijing to besiege the foreign legations, attracting the attention of the entire world. Joseph Esherick reconstructs the early history of the Boxers, challenging the traditional view that they grew from earlier anti-dynastic sects, and stressing instead the impact of social ecology and popular culture.


The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom

By John Pompfret,

Book cover of The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom: America and China, 1776 to the Present

We are used to thinking about how much China has changed in the past 50 years, thanks to the actions of the United States. But we rarely think about China’s historic impact on the U.S. This magisterial book by a former Washington Post reporter with long experience in China corrects that imbalance. There is a reason the author uses 1776 in his subhead. The tea tossed into Boston Harbor was shipped from Xiamen, and America’s founders were inspired by Chinese society which they viewed as a meritocracy. China’s democratic reformers looked to the U.S. for inspiration too.

The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom

By John Pompfret,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Remarkable History of the Two-Centuries-Old Relationship Between the United States and China, from the Revolutionary War to the Present Day

From the clipper ships that ventured to Canton hauling cargos of American ginseng to swap for Chinese tea, and the Yankee missionaries who brought Christianity and education to China, to the Chinese who built the American West, the United States and China have always been dramatically intertwined. While we tend to think of America’s ties with China as starting in 1972 with the visit of President Richard Nixon to China, the patterns---rapturous enchantment followed by angry disillusionment---were set in…


Boxers

By Gene Luen Yang,

Book cover of Boxers

Travel back in time to the Boxer Rebellion in the early 1900s. This graphic novel follows Little Bao as he gathers a brotherhood (and later is joined by a sisterhood) called the Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists. People from many different backgrounds gather together to support each other to fight for the freedom of their homeland, China. I love the way that the clean illustrations in this graphic novel make the story explode in my mind as I follow this band of ragtag revolutionaries coming together as a family on a mission!

Bonus: There’s a companion graphic novel, Saints, that tells a parallel story from a very different perspective!

Boxers

By Gene Luen Yang,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Boxers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From American Born Chinese author Gene Luen Yang: an innovative look at China's Boxer Rebellion told from two points of view, in two companion volumes. China, 1898. Bands of foreign missionaries and soldiers roam the countryside, bullying and robbing Chinese peasants. Little Bao has had enough. Harnessing the powers of ancient Chinese gods, he recruits an army of Boxers - commoners trained in kung fu who fight to free China from "foreign devils." But nothing is simple. Little Bao is fighting for the glory of China, but at what cost? So many are dying, including thousands of Chinese citizens who…


Boxers & Saints

By Gene Luen Yang,

Book cover of Boxers & Saints

I’ve always loved Hong Kong New Wave movies, but they often emphasize action and flashy melodrama over historical context. For someone wanting to dig a little deeper, the graphic novel Boxers & Saints is a look into the parallel lives of two Chinese teenagers during the Boxer Rebellion—One is a red-blooded patriot eager to fight Western invaders. The other is a troubled girl who finds liberation in Christianity. Both characters are carried along, motivated, and then betrayed by fanaticism. When their paths cross, they are forced to learn the difference between religious faith and religious mania. The simple artwork isn’t meant to be lingered over…I read all 512 pages at breakneck speed.

Boxers & Saints

By Gene Luen Yang,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Boxers & Saints as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Boxers & Saints Boxed Set from Gene Luen Yang, one of the greatest comics storytellers alive, brings all his formidable talents to bear in this astonishing work.

In two volumes, Boxers & Saints tells two parallel stories. The first is of Little Bao, a Chinese peasant boy whose village is abused and plundered by Westerners claiming the role of missionaries. Little Bao, inspired by visions of the Chinese gods, joins a violent uprising against the Western interlopers. Against all odds, their grass-roots rebellion is successful.

But in the second volume, Yang lays out the opposite side of the conflict.…


Diamond Head

By Cecily Wong,

Book cover of Diamond Head

Frank Leong is a wealthy shipping industrialist who moves his family from China to Oahu at the turn of the nineteenth century. Frank is murdered, which completely destroys his family. Whispers of an ancient parable haunt the Leongs, of a red string that connects someone to their perfect match but can also punish for mistakes in love. Frank’s pregnant teenage granddaughter, Theresa, is the next target to suffer from her family’s curse. The story is told from multiple points of view in this tragic multigenerational story of secrets and betrayal. My own interest in family history made this novel resonate deeply within me as several generations of women fail in their relationships.

Diamond Head

By Cecily Wong,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Diamond Head as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Diamond Head is an intricate meditation on what is in our control and what is fate—and on whether children must bear the costs of their parents’ mistakes.” —Celeste Ng, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere

At the turn of the nineteenth century, Frank Leong, a fabulously wealthy shipping industrialist, moves his family from China to the island of Oahu. But something ancient follows the Leongs to Hawaii, haunting them. The parable of the red string of fate, the cord that binds one intended beloved to her perfect match, also punishes…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in China, the Boxer Rebellion, and the Qing dynasty?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about China, the Boxer Rebellion, and the Qing dynasty.

China Explore 434 books about China
The Boxer Rebellion Explore 8 books about the Boxer Rebellion
The Qing Dynasty Explore 20 books about the Qing dynasty