100 books like Science and Civilisation in China

By H.T. Huang,

Here are 100 books that Science and Civilisation in China fans have personally recommended if you like Science and Civilisation in China. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China

Derek Sandhaus Author Of Drunk in China: Baijiu and the World's Oldest Drinking Culture

From my list on Chinese alcohol and drinking culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

Derek Sandhaus is an award-winning American author of several books on Chinese history and culture. He worked as an editor, publisher, and tour guide in Shanghai, then moved to Chengdu and turned to drink. In 2018 he co-founded Ming River Sichuan Baijiu with China’s oldest distillery, and now spends most of his time talking about Chinese alcohol to anyone who will listen. He currently lives in Washington, DC, with his wife and a very well-traveled dog.

Derek's book list on Chinese alcohol and drinking culture

Derek Sandhaus Why did Derek love this book?

In China there’s an expression that roughly translates, “It’s not a meal without alcohol.” The converse is equally true: Chinese alcohol yearns to be paired with food. This list would thus be incomplete without a book that seriously delves into Chinese food culture. And in many ways, my own journey into Chinese spirits was an unintentional compliment to Dunlop’s earlier book. We both learned from local experts, followed our respective passions around China, and spent the bulk of our time in the idyllic Sichuanese capital of Chengdu. I especially appreciate Dunlop’s willingness to explore uncomfortable cultural dissonances, and the compelling and poignant case she makes for overcoming them.

By Fuchsia Dunlop,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Award-winning food writer Fuchsia Dunlop went to live in China as a student in 1994, and from the very beginning she vowed to eat everything she was offered, no matter how alien and bizarre it seemed. In this extraordinary memoir, Fuchsia recalls her evolving relationship with China and its food, from her first rapturous encounter with the delicious cuisine of Sichuan Province to brushes with corruption, environmental degradation, and greed. In the course of her fascinating journey, Fuchsia undergoes an apprenticeship at China's premier Sichuan cooking school, where she is the only foreign student in a class of nearly fifty…


Book cover of Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages

Derek Sandhaus Author Of Drunk in China: Baijiu and the World's Oldest Drinking Culture

From my list on Chinese alcohol and drinking culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

Derek Sandhaus is an award-winning American author of several books on Chinese history and culture. He worked as an editor, publisher, and tour guide in Shanghai, then moved to Chengdu and turned to drink. In 2018 he co-founded Ming River Sichuan Baijiu with China’s oldest distillery, and now spends most of his time talking about Chinese alcohol to anyone who will listen. He currently lives in Washington, DC, with his wife and a very well-traveled dog.

Derek's book list on Chinese alcohol and drinking culture

Derek Sandhaus Why did Derek love this book?

Patrick McGovern is an archeologist on a mission to discover ancient tipples. In Uncorking the Past he recounts several of his most significant finds, including the world’s oldest-known manmade alcoholic beverage at Jiahu, a nine-thousand-year-old site near the Yellow River in north-central China. The story of its discovery—and recreation with Dogfish Head Brewery—is fascinating, but the explanation of the role of alcohol in neolithic Chinese life makes it required reading.

By Patrick E. McGovern,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a lively tour around the world and through the millennia, "Uncorking the Past" tells the compelling story of humanity's ingenious, intoxicating quest for the perfect drink. Following a tantalizing trail of archaeological, chemical, artistic, and textual clues, Patrick E. McGovern, the leading authority on ancient alcoholic beverages, brings us up to date on what we now know about how humans created and enjoyed fermented beverages across cultures. Along the way, he explores a provocative hypothesis about the integral role such libations have played in human evolution. We discover, for example, that the cereal staples of the modern world were…


Book cover of The Banished Immortal: A Life of Li Bai (Li Po)

Derek Sandhaus Author Of Drunk in China: Baijiu and the World's Oldest Drinking Culture

From my list on Chinese alcohol and drinking culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

Derek Sandhaus is an award-winning American author of several books on Chinese history and culture. He worked as an editor, publisher, and tour guide in Shanghai, then moved to Chengdu and turned to drink. In 2018 he co-founded Ming River Sichuan Baijiu with China’s oldest distillery, and now spends most of his time talking about Chinese alcohol to anyone who will listen. He currently lives in Washington, DC, with his wife and a very well-traveled dog.

Derek's book list on Chinese alcohol and drinking culture

Derek Sandhaus Why did Derek love this book?

Li Bai is the best known of China’s “Eight Immortals of the Wine Glass,” a group of Tang dynasty (618-907 CE) poets famous for their drinking prowess. Using historical records, Ha Jin’s biography is a portrait of a frustrated half-Chinese outcast, brilliant but arrogant, who struggles to find a place in a world where talent alone is not enough. Brought down to earth, Li the man is less inspiring than the legend but far more sympathetic.

By Ha Jin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In his own time (701–762), Li Bai’s brilliant poems—shaped by Daoist thought, filled with an irrepressible lust for life—were never given their proper due. Nonetheless, his lines rang out on the lips of tavern singers, soldiers, and writers throughout the Tang dynasty, and his deep desire for a higher, more perfect world gave rise to his nickname: the Banished Immortal. With the instincts of a master novelist, Ha Jin draws on a wide range of historical and literary sources to weave the great poet’s life story, following Bai from his origins on the western frontier to his rambling travels as…


Book cover of Soju: A Global History

Derek Sandhaus Author Of Drunk in China: Baijiu and the World's Oldest Drinking Culture

From my list on Chinese alcohol and drinking culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

Derek Sandhaus is an award-winning American author of several books on Chinese history and culture. He worked as an editor, publisher, and tour guide in Shanghai, then moved to Chengdu and turned to drink. In 2018 he co-founded Ming River Sichuan Baijiu with China’s oldest distillery, and now spends most of his time talking about Chinese alcohol to anyone who will listen. He currently lives in Washington, DC, with his wife and a very well-traveled dog.

Derek's book list on Chinese alcohol and drinking culture

Derek Sandhaus Why did Derek love this book?

A book about Korean liquor might seem out of place on this list, but hear me out. Park’s book tells the story of soju from an unusual perspective, explaining Korean distilled spirits’ origins and development in terms of the historical circumstances that created them. It explores Korea’s place in the ancient world to explain when the country first encountered and widely adopted distilled spirits, a task that necessitates a sustained gaze on China. Accordingly, Soju provides readers with the most detailed examination of ancient Chinese liquor since H.T. Huang’s, and provides several noteworthy updates and improvements on his work.

By Hyunhee Park,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Hyunhee Park offers the first global historical study of soju, the distinctive distilled drink of Korea. Searching for soju's origins, Park leads us into the vast, complex world of premodern Eurasia. She demonstrates how the Mongol conquests of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries wove together hemispheric flows of trade, empire, scientific and technological transfer and created the conditions for the development of a singularly Korean drink. Soju's rise in Korea marked the evolution of a new material culture through ongoing interactions between the global and local and between tradition and innovation in the adaptation and localization of new technologies. Park's…


Book cover of The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking: Including an Unorthodox Chapter on East-West Desserts and a Provocative Essay on Wine

David Waltuck Author Of Staff Meals from Chanterelle

From my list on Chinese cookbooks that have influenced my cooking.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a chef, author, and consultant, living and working primarily in New York City,  best known for my restaurant, Chanterelle, which I owned and operated for 30 years. Chanterelle was much loved and highly regarded, receiving numerous accolades including 4 James Beard Foundation awards and 2 four-star reviews from the New York Times. I also wrote 2 cookbooks, Chanterelle, the Story and Recipes of a Restaurant Classic, and Staff Meals from Chanterelle. Though my first love is French cuisine, I have had a long-standing affair with Asian, primarily Chinese food. I love cooking Chinese for myself, friends, and family, and have also incorporated elements of the cuisine into my professional cooking.

David's book list on Chinese cookbooks that have influenced my cooking

David Waltuck Why did David love this book?

An authoritative overview of Chinese techniques, ingredients, and tools, and an exemplary selection of recipes, written by an American who studied in China and fell in love with the cuisine. Tropp brings an outsider’s perspective and an academic’s rigor to the study and teaching of Chinese cuisine. The recipes are meticulous and detailed, and the introductions and technique notes are informative and personal.

By Barbara Tropp,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Explanations of Chinese cooking techniques and tools also show how to adapt them to the contemporary American kitchen, while recipes encompass the full range of main dishes, appetizers, dim-sum, and soups


Book cover of The Banquet Bug

Jonathan Clements Author Of The Emperor's Feast: A History of China in Twelve Meals

From my list on Chinese food.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jonathan Clements is a historian specialising in East Asia, and the author of A Brief History of China, The Art of War: A New Translation, and Confucius: A Biography. Several of his books have been translated and published in Chinese. He has presented three seasons of Route Awakening (National Geographic), an award-winning TV series about icons of Chinese culture. From 2013-2019, he was a visiting professor at Xi’an Jiaotong University, China.

Jonathan's book list on Chinese food

Jonathan Clements Why did Jonathan love this book?

Released in my native Britain as The Uninvited, Yan’s novel offers an unexpected angle on Chinese food by presenting the banquet as the place in China where alliances are forged, deals are done, and palms are greased. Her hero is a member of the Beijing underclass who somehow finds himself gate-crashing big society feasts. Pretending to be a journalist ready to be “entertained”, he discovers food he never dreamed of, but also comes to develop a sense of social responsibility. He starts to inhabit the part he is playing, and becomes not an uninvited guest, but a crusader on the behalf of the downtrodden. Or does he…?

By Geling Yan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Banquet Bug as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Geling Yan captivates readers once more in her breakthrough novel. This is the fantastical tale of Dan Dong, an unemployed factory worker whose life takes a series of unexpected twists after he discovers that, by posing as a journalist, he can eat exquisite gourmet meals for free at state-sponsored banquets. But the secrets he overhears at these events eventually lead Dan down a twisted, intrigue-laden path, and his subterfuge and his real identity become harder and harder to separate. When he becomes privy to a scandal that runs from the depths of society to its highest rungs, Dan must find…


Book cover of The Chinese Kitchen: Recipes, Techniques, Ingredients, History, And Memories From America's Leading Authority On Chinese Cooking

David Waltuck Author Of Staff Meals from Chanterelle

From my list on Chinese cookbooks that have influenced my cooking.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a chef, author, and consultant, living and working primarily in New York City,  best known for my restaurant, Chanterelle, which I owned and operated for 30 years. Chanterelle was much loved and highly regarded, receiving numerous accolades including 4 James Beard Foundation awards and 2 four-star reviews from the New York Times. I also wrote 2 cookbooks, Chanterelle, the Story and Recipes of a Restaurant Classic, and Staff Meals from Chanterelle. Though my first love is French cuisine, I have had a long-standing affair with Asian, primarily Chinese food. I love cooking Chinese for myself, friends, and family, and have also incorporated elements of the cuisine into my professional cooking.

David's book list on Chinese cookbooks that have influenced my cooking

David Waltuck Why did David love this book?

It is difficult to choose just one of Eileen Yin-Fei Lo’s many books to recommend, but “Chinese Kitchen” is a great overview of Chinese cooking and food culture, with an excellent guide to ingredients, helpful photographs, and a well chosen array of recipes, ranging from simple home cooking to elaborate banquet dishes.

By Eileen Yin-Fei Lo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, author of award-winning cookbooks, menu developer for top Asian restaurants, and cooking teacher, presents her life's work. Reflecting on her life in food, including her childhood in Canton, China, where she learned to cook at her grandmother's side, Eileen has created an exhaustive cookbook of extensive scope. Everything about Chinese cooking has cultural significance, and much of what Eileen talks about in this book has never appeared in print before in the English language.

There are more than 250 recipes in all, including many classic banquet-style recipes, quite a number presented for the first time in the…


Book cover of How to Cook and Eat in Chinese

Jonathan Clements Author Of The Emperor's Feast: A History of China in Twelve Meals

From my list on Chinese food.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jonathan Clements is a historian specialising in East Asia, and the author of A Brief History of China, The Art of War: A New Translation, and Confucius: A Biography. Several of his books have been translated and published in Chinese. He has presented three seasons of Route Awakening (National Geographic), an award-winning TV series about icons of Chinese culture. From 2013-2019, he was a visiting professor at Xi’an Jiaotong University, China.

Jonathan's book list on Chinese food

Jonathan Clements Why did Jonathan love this book?

First published in 1945, and reissued in many later editions, Chao’s book was immensely influential on the spread of American food in China. An academic and medical professional who fell into Chinese food-advocacy by accident, she presents a series of everyday recipes, “things for folk like you and me” that were nevertheless impossibly exotic at the time she was writing. Her book is a fascinating time capsule of attitudes and assumptions in the era before America could boast of a Chinese restaurant in every suburb, but also a no-nonsense cookbook for the beginner.

By Buwei Yang Chao,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Cook and Eat in Chinese as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How to Cook and Eat in Chinese [Paperback] Buwei Yang Chao (Author)


Book cover of The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore

David Waltuck Author Of Staff Meals from Chanterelle

From my list on Chinese cookbooks that have influenced my cooking.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a chef, author, and consultant, living and working primarily in New York City,  best known for my restaurant, Chanterelle, which I owned and operated for 30 years. Chanterelle was much loved and highly regarded, receiving numerous accolades including 4 James Beard Foundation awards and 2 four-star reviews from the New York Times. I also wrote 2 cookbooks, Chanterelle, the Story and Recipes of a Restaurant Classic, and Staff Meals from Chanterelle. Though my first love is French cuisine, I have had a long-standing affair with Asian, primarily Chinese food. I love cooking Chinese for myself, friends, and family, and have also incorporated elements of the cuisine into my professional cooking.

David's book list on Chinese cookbooks that have influenced my cooking

David Waltuck Why did David love this book?

An intimate and unique celebration of Chinese culture and food, expounded through an in-depth contemplation of the wok, one of the world’s most versatile cooking tools. Young teaches us how to choose a wok, how to care for it, and how to use it in myriad ways, not just for stir fry.

By Grace Young, Alan Richardson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Breath of a Wok as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Award-winning author Grace Young celebrates and demystifies the art of wok cooking for the Western home cook.

When Grace Young was a child, her father instilled in her a lasting appreciation of wok hay, the highly prized but elusive taste that food achieves when properly stir-fried in a wok. As an adult, Young aspired to create that taste in her own kitchen.

Grace Young's quest to master wok cooking led her throughout the United States, Hong Kong, and mainland China. Along with award-winning photographer Alan Richardson, Young sought the advice of home cooks, professional chefs, and esteemed culinary teachers like…


Book cover of Slippery Noodles

Jonathan Clements Author Of The Emperor's Feast: A History of China in Twelve Meals

From my list on Chinese food.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jonathan Clements is a historian specialising in East Asia, and the author of A Brief History of China, The Art of War: A New Translation, and Confucius: A Biography. Several of his books have been translated and published in Chinese. He has presented three seasons of Route Awakening (National Geographic), an award-winning TV series about icons of Chinese culture. From 2013-2019, he was a visiting professor at Xi’an Jiaotong University, China.

Jonathan's book list on Chinese food

Jonathan Clements Why did Jonathan love this book?

Thick with Chinese-language citations, and seasoned heavily with recipes from the pages of history, Lin’s book is a real insider’s view of how it feels not only to taste Chinese food, but live inside the world it creates. She retells famous stories from the history of food in China, and quotes extensively from manuals that are otherwise unavailable to English-speaking readers. A wonderful buffet of a book, that you can pick at and graze upon for days.

By Hsiang Ju Lin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

China is a big country and its cookery is one of the world’s greatest. In the last century all nations everywhere have been introduced to its tastes, flavours and cooking methods. But an understanding of Chinese food history is hard to come by: the country is large and the history is long. Hsiang Ju Lin has interrogated the written record, some of it dating back to the 5th century BC, and most recently from books current in the People’s Republic today; she has translated it and set it into culinary context and thereby allows the modern reader to enter into…


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