Books I've meant to mention individually, but which I'll never get to if I wait for time to do that. From the left in this first shot:

Two Kinds of Time, by Graham Peck, introduction by Robert Kapp. Riveting and hilarious accounts of travels through WW II-era China by an American diplomat (and litterateur and artist), fascinating in their own right and all the more rewarding because of their resonance with the superficially-different China of 60+ years later.

Typhoon, by Charles Cumming, previously mentioned here and elsewhere. I now have a sense of why this conceivably might have been detained by Chinese authorities when I ordered it before. It is largely about a CIA plot to destabilize the Chinese regime by working with Muslim/Uighur nationalists in Xinjiang region. If you're looking for an action-and-romance driven spy novel, as opposed to one mainly about mood and psychology, check it out.

Beijing Coma, by the exiled Chinese writer Ma Jian. You want dark, about the Cultural Revolution and Tiananmen? This will give you very, very dark. Hint: the coma in the title is not simply figurative.

Still on the China beat: Global Shanghai, by Jeffrey Wasserstrom, very interesting historical/ intellectual / cultural analysis of the ways my former home town has been perceived as both a Chinese and a non-Chinese city.


Finally, for Something Different: A Romance on Three Legs, by Katie Hafner. The author is a good friend, but even if she weren't I would find this a masterful demonstration of how to make a subject you didn't know you were interested in page-turning reading from beginning to end. The description of how the "action" of a piano actually works will stand as an example of how to explain complex processes lucidly.

Read up!