10 books like Two Kinds of Time

By Graham Peck,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Two Kinds of Time. 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).

My Several Worlds

By Pearl S. Bucks,

Book cover of My Several Worlds

Pearl S. Bucks was the first American woman who won the Nobel Prize for Literature. She was brought to China by her missionary parents when she was an infant. She continued to spend much of the first half of her life in China from 1892 to 1934. This autobiography covers her growing up in China and returning to the U.S. Good-hearted and open-minded, she was the very few foreigners who had intimate access to ordinary Chinese people's lives and souls, which remain mysterious to most outsiders to this day. As a sharp-eyed observer and skillful writer, she gave an extraordinary account of the major events such as the collapse of the Qing Dynasty, the Boxer Rebellion, and the civil war between the Nationalists and the Communists. The missionary work brought her to China in the first place, but in the end, she admitted failure in bringing God to China. Pearl…

My Several Worlds

By Pearl S. Bucks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Drama Historical


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…


Forgotten Ally

By Rana Mitter,

Book cover of Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II, 1937-1945

For many years, American views of the China’s role in World War II were strongly influenced by Barbara Tuchman’s best-selling, Stilwell and the American Experience in China published in 1971. Tuchman painted China’s war effort as brave but costly and ineffective thanks to the incompetence and corruption of Chiang Kai Shek. Portrayed as a kind of Chinese George Washington in the U.S. media, Tuchman saw Chiang as being in fact, far less interested in defeating the Japanese than in ensuring that his regime survived the war in a position to vanquish its domestic rivals, especially Mao Zedong’s Communists 

In contrast, Mittar’s focus is not on policy squabbles or specific military issues but on the overall impact of the war on China and its people. He highlights that country’s remarkable achievement, not in winning battles but in surviving the Japanese onslaught for eight long years despite the early loss of almost…

Forgotten Ally

By Rana Mitter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An Economist Book of the Year
A Financial Times Book of the Year

“A book that has long cried out to be written.” — Observer (UK), Books of the Year

In 1937, two years before Hitler invaded Poland, Chinese troops clashed with Japanese occupiers in the first battle of World War II. Joining with the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain, China became the fourth great ally in a devastating struggle for its very survival.

Prizewinning historian Rana Mitter unfurls China’s drama of invasion, resistance, slaughter, and political intrigue as never before. Based on groundbreaking research, this gripping…


China’s War with Japan 1937-1945

By Rana Mitter,

Book cover of China’s War with Japan 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival

In my opinion, you cannot fully understand the Pacific War without grasping the tragedy of the undeclared Sino-Japanese War which preceded Pearl Harbor by virtually four and a half years. Remarkably, however, the story is not well known. It’s often passed over as if it was of hardly any consequence at all. Far from being a minor item on the road to war, however, China’s horrendous struggle with Japan is pivotal because it managed to suck in arguably the best troops of the Imperial Japanese Army and kept them fighting throughout the duration of the Pacific War. This ensured that they couldn’t be released to go elsewhere because China refused to give in. Mitter’s excellent book reveals why this dramatic fight for survival influenced Chinese leaders both then and now.

China’s War with Japan 1937-1945

By Rana Mitter,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked China’s War with Japan 1937-1945 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Duke of Westminster Medal for Military Literature

Different countries give different opening dates for the period of the Second World War, but perhaps the most compelling is 1937, when the 'Marco Polo Bridge Incident' plunged China and Japan into a conflict of extraordinary duration and ferocity - a war which would result in many millions of deaths and completely reshape East Asia in ways which we continue to confront today.

With great vividness and narrative drive Rana Mitter's book draws on a huge range of new sources to recreate this terrible conflict. He writes both about the…


China's Good War

By Rana Mitter,

Book cover of China's Good War: How World War II Is Shaping a New Nationalism

I am disturbed by what is happening in Hong Kong and Xinjiang but it’s important to take a long and balanced view if we want to influence China. Chinese dynasties harbour long memories including the humiliation of the Opium Wars and the sacking of the Imperial Summer Palace by colonial powers and the atrocities committed by Japan in WW2 in China. If we start by empathising with this shared but forgotten history of China in WW2, maybe we can help swing the pendulum to one that respects the diversity that is needed in both East and West.

China's Good War

By Rana Mitter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked China's Good War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Chinese leaders once tried to suppress memories of their nation's brutal experience during World War II. Now they celebrate the "victory"-a key foundation of China's rising nationalism.

For most of its history, the People's Republic of China limited public discussion of the war against Japan. It was an experience of victimization-and one that saw Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-shek fighting for the same goals. But now, as China grows more powerful, the meaning of the war is changing. Rana Mitter argues that China's reassessment of the World War II years is central to its newfound confidence abroad and to mounting…


Shanghai 1937

By Peter Harmsen,

Book cover of Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze

This was a major battle that happened in 1937, right before the Rape of Nanking. After the fall of Shanghai, the Japanese army would march toward, Nanking (Nanjing), the capital of China then. Although it was front page news throughout much of the world then, few people other than historians know it today. It is no hyperbole to call the battle Stalingrad on the Yangtze. The book reads like an engrossing historical novel.

Shanghai 1937

By Peter Harmsen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shanghai 1937 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This deeply researched book describes one of the great forgotten battles of the 20th century. At its height it involved nearly a million Chinese and Japanese soldiers, while sucking in three million civilians as unwilling spectators and, often, victims. It turned what had been a Japanese adventure in China into a general war between the two oldest and proudest civilizations of the Far East. Ultimately, it led to Pearl Harbor and to seven decades of tumultuous history in Asia. The Battle of Shanghai was a pivotal event that helped define and shape the modern world.

In its sheer scale, the…


Champions Day

By James Carter,

Book cover of Champions Day: The End of Old Shanghai

Shanghai, which was once called the “Hollywood of Asia,” has always been a cinematic city par excellence, so a good way to describe the charms of this book is via movie terms. In one sense, it zooms in tightly on a specific day in the history of the city and what was happening in a single setting. It mixes close-ups of a horse race and some people who came to watch it, though, with wide-angle shots and flashbacks. The author, a skilled historian with deep knowledge of Chinese history and a stylish writer, moves effortlessly between Shanghai in the early 1940s as the Japanese military’s World War II era grip on the city and much of China was tightening and earlier points in its past. He also moves fluidly between the racecourse—a potent symbol, as during the height of the British imperial period, Britons would often build these to mark…

Champions Day

By James Carter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

12 November 1941: war and revolution are in the air. At the Shanghai Race Club, the elite prepare their best horses and most nimble jockeys for the annual Champions Day races. Across the city and amid tight security, others celebrated the birth of Sun Yat-Sen in a new centre which challenged European imperialism. Thousands more Shanghai residents attended the funeral of China's wealthiest woman. But the biggest crowd gathered at the track; no one knew it, but Champions Day heralded the end of European Shanghai. Through this snapshot of the day's events, the rich and complex history that led to…


The Library of Legends

By Janie Chang,

Book cover of The Library of Legends

Janie Chang is a master writer who weaves the power of myth into her story of a 1937 escape of Chinese university students as Japanese bombs drop on their city. Charged with protecting an irreplaceable trove of ancient books, the students face air raids, a ragged life on the road, and a growing fear of traitors from within. The Library of Legends is an evocative tale of love, war, and survival, beautifully written.

The Library of Legends

By Janie Chang,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Library of Legends as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The Library of Legends is a gorgeous, poetic journey threaded with mist and magic about a group from a Chinese university who take to the road to escape the Japanese invasion of 1937 - only to discover that danger stalks them from within. Janie Chang pens pure enchantment!" -Kate Quinn, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Alice Network and The Huntress

From the author of Three Souls and Dragon Springs Road comes a captivating historical novel-the third in a loosely-connected trilogy-in which a young woman travels across China with a convoy of student refugees, fleeing the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in China, the second Sino-Japanese War, and the Pacific War in WW2?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about China, the second Sino-Japanese War, and the Pacific War in WW2.

China Explore 433 books about China
The Second Sino-Japanese War Explore 10 books about the second Sino-Japanese War
The Pacific War In WW2 Explore 42 books about the Pacific War in WW2