100 books like The Good Earth

By Pearl S. Buck,

Here are 100 books that The Good Earth fans have personally recommended if you like The Good Earth. 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 Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China

Sylvia Vetta Author Of Food of Love: Cooking Up a Life Across Gender, Class and Race

From my list on memoirs which help us understand the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

For The Oxford Times, I wrote the lives of 120 inspirational people from five continents. My 3 novels are inspired by real lives including the charity founder Nancy Mudenyo Hunt and the artist Qu Leilei, the hero of Andy Cohen’s film Beijing Spring. Stories of 30 not-famous choir members in I Love you All show that we are each unique. My memoir has a particular purpose. I dug deep into my life and my husband Atam’s to reveal the intersection of gender class and race—the barriers that shaped my life and how Atam and I tried to transcend them.

Sylvia's book list on memoirs which help us understand the world

Sylvia Vetta Why did Sylvia love this book?

In 1966, I bought a copy of Mao’s Little Red Book which sold all over the world but, like almost everyone in the West, I had no idea of the brutal reality of the Cultural Revolution. In 1991, Jung Chang’s memoir took the world by storm and we could feel that reality. It is not just her story but also that of her grandmother and mother. That is the joy of memoir in all its variety. I later got to know an artist friend of Chang’s called Qu Leilei. Unlike her, Leilei and his family were at the heart of events in Beijing. Similarly, it was Leilei’s untold story that made me want to write a novel inspired by him.

By Jung Chang,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Wild Swans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Few books have had such an impact as Wild Swans: a popular bestseller which has sold more than 13 million copies and a critically acclaimed history of China; a tragic tale of nightmarish cruelty and an uplifting story of bravery and survival.

Through the story of three generations of women in her own family - the grandmother given to the warlord as a concubine, the Communist mother and the daughter herself - Jung Chang reveals the epic history of China's twentieth century.

Breathtaking in its scope, unforgettable in its descriptions, this is a masterpiece which is extraordinary in every way.


Book cover of The Book Thief

Michele DeMarco Author Of Holding Onto Air: The Art and Science of Building a Resilient Spirit

From my list on transforming your mental and spiritual health.

Why am I passionate about this?

Officially, I’m an award-winning author and specialist in the fields of psychology, trauma, and spirituality. I’m also a professionally trained therapist, clinical ethicist, and researcher. Ultimately, I’m an ardent believer that the same life that brings us joy also (sometimes) brings us pain. More importantly, that every aspect of life has a role to play in making us who we are today and who we’ll be tomorrow. We don’t always have control over the events in life, but the script we live by is ours to write—and write it we must, as only we can. I’m also a three-time heart attack survivor.

Michele's book list on transforming your mental and spiritual health

Michele DeMarco Why did Michele love this book?

Markus Zusak’s book is definitely not for the faint of heart or those easily bored: its narrator is Death, and the book is over 500 pages long. Not really the kind of book you’d think of for those aged 12 and up (as it’s listed). But it is one that really ought to be universally read.

The book follows two young children battling for survival in Nazi Germany. Entropy hangs in the air like Death’s shadow. Life’s harsh realities—like evil, heartache, pain, and mortality—are ever-present. In Max's (the young boy) dreams, he is boxing with Hitler and lands a punch, knocking the Fuhrer down, but soon he’s overtaken by the crowd.

This is one of the reasons I appreciate this book: winners sometimes lose; bad things happen to good people. And yet, the response to this existential injustice isn’t to become a mere survivor, victim, or martyr. It’s to…

By Markus Zusak,

Why should I read it?

29 authors picked The Book Thief 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?

'Life affirming, triumphant and tragic . . . masterfully told. . . but also a wonderful page-turner' Guardian
'Brilliant and hugely ambitious' New York Times
'Extraordinary' Telegraph
___

HERE IS A SMALL FACT - YOU ARE GOING TO DIE

1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier.
Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall.

SOME IMPORTANT…


Book cover of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Suzanne Litrel Author Of Jackie Tempo and the Emperor's Seal

From my list on Chinese tradition, revolution, and change.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian, educator, and author with an abiding interest in stories that help bridge cultural divides. I first encountered tales of China as an elementary school student in Singapore. Years later, I studied Chinese and backpacked through China, after which I earned my M.A. in Asian Studies. I would go on to become a high school instructor, and this experience helped me teach AP World History ™ and IB (International Baccalaureate) History. I began writing my Jackie Tempo series as a way of providing accessible content in the classroom. Historical fiction has always helped provide deeper context for me and my students.

Suzanne's book list on Chinese tradition, revolution, and change

Suzanne Litrel Why did Suzanne love this book?

I’ve always turned to historical fiction to deepen my understanding of an era and help spark my imagination for class prep.

This book, set in late nineteenth-century China, helped me better contextualize the challenges confronting Chinese women at that time—and how they overcame, or at least endured them. I recently had the privilege of hearing Lisa See speak on her research and writing—she was quite engaging and shared much about her process.

She’s a passionate, dedicated, and disciplined scholar. This shines through in all her work, especially this bittersweet tale of friendship, love, and heartbreak.

By Lisa See,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Snow Flower and the Secret Fan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lily is the daughter of a humble farmer, and to her family she is just another expensive mouth to feed. Then the local matchmaker delivers startling news: if Lily's feet are bound properly, they will be flawless. In nineteenth-century China, where a woman's eligibility is judged by the shape and size of her feet, this is extraordinary good luck. Lily now has the power to make a good marriage and change the fortunes of her family. To prepare for her new life, she must undergo the agonies of footbinding, learn nu shu, the famed secret women's writing, and make a…


Book cover of Bronze and Sunflower

Justine Laismith Author Of Secrets of the Great Fire Tree

From my list on to see the hidden side of Chinese culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

Being half-Chinese and half-Peranakan, I grew up in a mixed cultural environment but went to secondary school with a strong Chinese culture. I became aware of my inferior knowledge, not just of the language, but also Chinese culture and history. Hence I immersed myself in the Chinese environment. But there is so much in this long and illustrious history of one of the oldest civilisations that my initial motive to learn was soon replaced by a genuine interest. Now I am always on the lookout for anything related to China, its history, and the Chinese culture.

Justine's book list on to see the hidden side of Chinese culture

Justine Laismith Why did Justine love this book?

I always like reading anything about day-to-day living in China. In this book, I loved the descriptions of what life is like in rural China, eg making their own reed shoes and building their own roofs. On the surface, this book is about the idyllic life in the countryside. However, it is set during the cultural revolution but so subtly described in the back-drop that it is perfect for the target audience. We often read about the people banished to the countryside, and this book tells me what happens to them when they arrive.

I also enjoyed it as it is a translated text, so there is a sense that this is authentic.

By Cao Wenxuan, Meilo So (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Bronze and Sunflower as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

A classic, heartwarming tale set to the backdrop of the Chinese cultural revolution, with the timeless feels of Eva Ibbotson's Journey to the River Sea.

A beautifully written, timeless tale by bestselling Chinese author Cao Wenxuan, winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Award. When Sunflower, a young city girl, moves to the countryside, she grows to love the reed marsh lands - the endlessly flowing river, the friendly buffalo with their strong backs and shiny round heads, the sky that stretches on and on in its vastness. However, the days are long, and the little girl is lonely. Then she…


Book cover of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Tanya E. Williams Author Of Welcome To The Hamilton: A Hotel Hamilton Novel

From my list on books that take place at a hotel.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve admired old buildings, hotels in particular, for many years. When immersed in a historic building, I find myself leaning in to discover what the walls might tell me if only I could listen closely enough. When I began writing The Hotel Hamilton series, I scoured the archives for historic hotels, learning how they came to be and how they've evolved through the years. One of the most fascinating aspects of hotel life for me is the juxtaposition of experiences felt by the guests versus those of the hotel staff. The upstairs/downstairs vibe of hotel life is ripe for creating tension within a novel, and that always intrigues me.

Tanya's book list on books that take place at a hotel

Tanya E. Williams Why did Tanya love this book?

This deeply moving story took hold of my heart and didn’t let it go. Even years after having read this novel, I am still moved by the thought of it.

Struggle, war, injustice, and young love are carefully woven together in a gripping tale that speaks of truths and heartbreak we seldom examine. I can’t recommend Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet enough as it is as moving as it is important.

By Jamie Ford,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

1986, The Panama Hotel The old Seattle landmark has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made a startling discovery in the basement: personal belongings stored away by Japanese families sent to interment camps during the Second World War. Among the fascinated crowd gathering outside the hotel, stands Henry Lee, and, as the owner unfurls a distinctive parasol, he is flooded by memories of his childhood. He wonders if by some miracle, in amongst the boxes of dusty treasures, lies a link to the Okabe family, and the girl he lost his young heart to, so…


Book cover of Empress Orchid

Melissa Addey Author Of The Fragrant Concubine

From my list on the concubines of imperial China.

Why am I passionate about this?

A tiny mention of the legendary ‘fragrant concubine’ in a travelogue had me search out more information… and more and more until I’d researched and written the stories of four imperial concubines in the Qing era (18th century China). Some rose to power, while others fell to madness. Their extraordinary lives within the high red walls of the Forbidden City fascinated me. Along the way I found a banished empress and a real woman who had endless myths grow up around her, as well as secondary characters like the Italian Jesuit turned court painter. An irresistible era and way of life to explore, in all its shades of light and darkness.

Melissa's book list on the concubines of imperial China

Melissa Addey Why did Melissa love this book?

A nobody-concubine rises to become Empress of China, making her way through the rituals and backstabbing of the imperial court. This is the closest to my own books and I loved the detail and the insights into the latter part of the Qing era, as well as the feeling of time running out for the imperial way of life. 

By Anchee Min,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

To rescue her family from poverty and avoid marrying her slope-shouldered cousin, seventeen-year-old Orchid competes to be one of the Emperor's wives. When she is chosen as a lower-ranking concubine she enters the erotically charged and ritualised Forbidden City. But beneath its immaculate facade lie whispers of murders and ghosts, and the thousands of concubines will stoop to any lengths to bear the Emperor's son. Orchid trains herself in the art of pleasuring a man, bribes her way into the royal bed, and seduces the monarch, drawing the attention of dangerous foes. Little does she know that China will collapse…


Book cover of The Girl from Everywhere

D.L. Gardner Author Of Sword of Cho Nisi Book 1: Rise of the Tobian Princess

From my list on fantasy with characters you love getting to know.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write, I read, I love people, and I have been living in a fantasy world ever since I was small. Personalities fascinate me and I have studied the little quirks and oddities that flavor individuals both in my artwork (I’m a portrait artist/oil painter), in my college major (counseling), and while writing my stories. What makes us who we are, and who our characters are, involves our backstories, our hopes, our fears, our dreams. Everyone has them and our characters in our stories should too. Oftentimes when I’m writing I find myself exploring a character more than I thought I would and that’s the fun part. I enjoy authors who do the same. 

D.L.'s book list on fantasy with characters you love getting to know

D.L. Gardner Why did D.L. love this book?

It’s not often you can pick up a fantasy book and laugh. Not only laugh but travel with a rogue group of people and enjoy every minute of it. The Girl from Everywhere is just plain fun! I loved the characters, so much personality! That it’s a time travel story makes it exciting, and I have a passion for tall ships, so she had me with the sailing adventure. Add to that humor and a feisty dialogue. I can’t say enough about this book.

By Heidi Heilig,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Girl from Everywhere as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

The Girl from Everywhere, the first of two books, blends fantasy, history, and a modern sensibility. Its sparkling wit, breathless adventure, multicultural cast, and enchanting romance will dazzle readers of Sabaa Tahir and Leigh Bardugo. 

As the daughter of a time traveler, Nix has spent sixteen years sweeping across the globe and through the centuries aboard her father’s ship. Modern-day New York City, nineteenth-century Hawaii, other lands seen only in myth and legend—Nix has been to them all.

But when her father gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end. Rae Carson meets Outlander in this…


Book cover of Illustrated Myths & Legends of China: The Ages of Chaos and Heroes

Justine Laismith Author Of Secrets of the Great Fire Tree

From my list on to see the hidden side of Chinese culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

Being half-Chinese and half-Peranakan, I grew up in a mixed cultural environment but went to secondary school with a strong Chinese culture. I became aware of my inferior knowledge, not just of the language, but also Chinese culture and history. Hence I immersed myself in the Chinese environment. But there is so much in this long and illustrious history of one of the oldest civilisations that my initial motive to learn was soon replaced by a genuine interest. Now I am always on the lookout for anything related to China, its history, and the Chinese culture.

Justine's book list on to see the hidden side of Chinese culture

Justine Laismith Why did Justine love this book?

This book stands out because it delves deeper into popular characters that appear repeatedly in similar books. I have also enjoyed coming across new names and places not previously found. But far from being obscure names, I have encountered these in Chinese fantasy dramas.

Best of all, it includes pictures of relevant artwork and museum artifacts. I get to see these without having to travel to the four corners of the world. Giving us a sense of where we are in place and time, these displays show that throughout the long Chinese history, these legends and myths are integral to the lives of Chinese people.

By Dehai Huang,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Illustrated Myths & Legends of China as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Illustrated Myths & Legends of China is a profusely illustrated collection of 32 carefully chosen tales of Chinese myth and legend.


With more than 100 illustrations drawn over two thousand years of all aspects of Chinese art—including painting, pottery and porcelain, jade, bronzes and tomb decoration—Illustrated Myths & Legends of China is a vividly written collection of tales of the universe's emergence from chaos, the creation of the world in which the first Chinese people appeared and a depiction of how the many strands of myth and legend have influenced Chinese culture.


An impressive array of heroic figures and rich…


Book cover of Spilled Water

Justine Laismith Author Of Secrets of the Great Fire Tree

From my list on to see the hidden side of Chinese culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

Being half-Chinese and half-Peranakan, I grew up in a mixed cultural environment but went to secondary school with a strong Chinese culture. I became aware of my inferior knowledge, not just of the language, but also Chinese culture and history. Hence I immersed myself in the Chinese environment. But there is so much in this long and illustrious history of one of the oldest civilisations that my initial motive to learn was soon replaced by a genuine interest. Now I am always on the lookout for anything related to China, its history, and the Chinese culture.

Justine's book list on to see the hidden side of Chinese culture

Justine Laismith Why did Justine love this book?

Winner of the 2004 Smarties Award for fiction 9 – 11, it is a well-deserved award as it describes a difficult topic at an appropriate level for its readers. 

I read Spilled Water as it has a similar theme to my own book. It gives insight into the unseen ugliness of economic success in China. In addition, this story informs our target audience of the existence of child labour and misogynism in this part of the world, where poverty forces family to treat their daughters like ‘spilled water’ and employers regard them as property.

By Sally Grindley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spilled Water as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

When her husband dies, Lu Si-yan's mother is encouraged to sell her young daughter into domestic service. Lu Si-yan is just eleven when sold by her uncle. Nearly two years will pass before she can get back home to her mother and brother. In this powerful and compelling novel Sally Grindley portrays the life of a young girl in China, a young girl whose life is said to be like 'spilled water'. With a brilliant first-person narrative and a powerful description of time and place, this novel is gripping, heart-wrenching and utterly mesmerising.


Book cover of The Winemaker's Wife

Cate Carlyle Author Of #NotReadyToDie

From my list on historical fiction for nerdy teacher-librarians.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author of short stories, young adult novels, romance, even a reference book, but I will read any genre and any age group. As a librarian, researcher, book reviewer, and former school teacher, I have a long-standing love for historical fiction. When an author gets the details right, and you feel transported in time and place to WWII, or the 18th century, or Victorian England…there is nothing sweeter. Witnessing humankind overcoming huge obstacles, facing the most that human nature can take, and coming out on top? Definitely literary therapy! So put down the cell phone, pour a hot cuppa, and let these favourites of mine transport you.

Cate's book list on historical fiction for nerdy teacher-librarians

Cate Carlyle Why did Cate love this book?

True confession time…after reading The Winemaker’s Wife I hightailed it to the library and took out all of Kristin Harmel’s historical fiction titles (Book of Lost Names!!). Yes, they are that good! In The Winemaker’s Wife, Harmel transports her readers to 1940, a time when WWII and the Nazi regime threatened the lives and livelihoods of a particular Champagne House in France. She expertly taps into all of the five senses in her tale of love and betrayal, of the unyielding power of the human spirit in the face of adversity, and of a Resistance movement hidden beneath the casks and caves of the winery. A riveting, read-in-one-sitting book!

By Kristin Harmel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Winemaker's Wife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The author of the “engrossing” (People) international bestseller The Room on Rue Amélie returns with a moving story set amid the champagne vineyards of France during the darkest days of World War II, perfect for fans of Heather Morris’s The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

Champagne, 1940: Inès has just married Michel, the owner of storied champagne house Maison Chauveau, when the Germans invade. As the danger mounts, Michel turns his back on his marriage to begin hiding munitions for the Résistance. Inès fears they’ll be exposed, but for Céline, the French-Jewish wife of Chauveau’s chef de cave, the risk is even…


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