- The Travels of Marco Polo by Marco Polo – the Venetian traveler’s stories in the Middle Kingdom (see also: On the trail of Marco Polo)
- Dialogues Tibetan Dialogues Han by Hannü – Tibet through the Tibetans with a Han traveler
- Behind the Wall- A journey through china by Colin Thubron. Thubron recounts his 1987 travels through China, from Beijing to Jiayuguan.
- The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck – The classic tale of Chinese peasant life at the turn of the twentieth century, by the author who kindled the American public’s interest in China in the 1930’s. Ms. Buck won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1938 for the body of her work about China.
- Winter Stars by Beatrice Lao – a collection of poems born between the Alps and the Tyrrhenian
- Romance of the Three Kingdoms – the classic Chinese novel of the heroic deeds of the generals and leaders of the three kingdoms following the collapse of the Han dynasty. Noted for its details of cunning military and political strategies. One of the Four Great Classics. It continues to inspire films, TV series, comics, and video games throughout East Asia.
- Water Margin or Outlaws of the Marsh – a Song Dynasty tale of bandits living in the Huai River Valley who fight against the corrupt government. Noted for the rebellious nature of its main characters against an established order. It’s the Chinese version of “sticking it to the man”. One of the Four Great Classics.
- Journey to the West – perhaps the most famous Chinese novel, a fantasy account of Xuan Zang’s Tang Dynasty journey to retrieve sacred Buddhist texts with the aid of the monkey king Sun Wukong, the gluttonous Zhu Bajie and dependable Sha Wujing. Noted for its extremely creative fantasies and adventures. One of the Four Great Classics.
- Dream of the Red Chamber also known as The Story of the Stone (Penguin Classics, 5 volumes)- a lively account of aristocratic life in the Qing dynasty told through the stories of three powerful families. Noted for its extremely accurate portrayal of Chinese aristocrats and the work is often regarded as the zenith of Chinese literature. One of the Four Great Classics.
- Twilight in The Forbidden City by R.F. Johnston -Also available in Kindle Edition. As the British-born Tutor to the Dragon Emperor, Johnston was the only foreigner in history to be allowed inside the inner court of the Qing Dynasty. Johnston carried high imperial titles and lived in both the Forbidden City and the New Summer Palace. Twilight in the Forbidden City reflects his eyewitness accounts of the memorable events of the time.
- The Search for Modern China by Jonathan Spence – a renowned book written by a Yale professor about Chinese history since 1644.
- 1587, A Year of No Significance by Ray Huang – describes an uneventful year in the history of Ming Dynasty China. Its Chinese edition is one of the most well known history books on this period.
- China: A New History by John K. Fairbank – the last book of a prominent American academic that helped shape modern Sinology.
- The Cambridge History of China – ongoing series of books published by Cambridge University Press covering the early and modern history of China. This is the largest and most comprehensive history of China in the English language.
- The Open Empire: A History of China to 1600 by Valerie Hansen – presents in colorful detail the history, culture, and socio-economic development of China from the Shang period to the Ming.
- 1421, The Year China Discovered the World by Gavin Menzies – well known but well contested account of China’s alleged efforts to explore and map the entire world. Interestingly, this book which suggests that Chinese first discovered the New World is largely denounced as fictional by Chinese academics.
- The Sextants of Beijing by Joanna Waley-Cohen – a book that summarizes recent thinking on how China was much more open and less xenophobic than often assumed.
- Red Star Over China by Edgar Snow- recounts the months that he spent with the Chinese Red Army in the summer and fall of 1936.
- The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang – the forgotten Holocaust in WWII
- The Good Man of Nanking: The Diaries of John Rabe by John Rabe – firsthand description of the sadistic rapes, torture and slaughter perpetrated by Japanese soldiers in WWII and Rabe’s ultimate success in saving perhaps a quarter of a million lives
- Wild Swans by Jung Chang – a biography of three generations, from the warlord days to the end of Mao’s era, illustrating life under China’s version of nationalism and communism (banned in China)
- Mao-An unknown story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday. A biography of Mao and an account of China under his rule.
- Red China Blues: My Long March from Mao to Now by Jan Wong, a reporter for the Globe and Mail of Toronto, Canada. The book describes her experiences as one of the first foreign exchange students to study in China after the Cultural Revolution and her life and experiences as a reporter in China until the mid1990s.
- Bernardo Bertolucci – The Last Emperor (1987)
- Zhang Yimou – Raise the Red Lantern (1991)
- Chen Kaige – Farewell My Concubine (1993)
- Zhang Yimou – To Live (1994)
- Wu Ziniu – Don’t Cry, Nanking (1995)
- Zhang Yimou – Keep cool (1997)
- Xie Jin – The Opium War (1997)
- Zhang Yang – Shower (1999)
- Feng Xiao Gang – Sorry Baby (1999)
- Zhang Yimou – Not one less (1999)
- Xiaoshuai Wang – Beijing bicycle (2001)
- Zhang Yimou – Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (2005)
- Gianni Amelio – La stella che non c’è or The Missing Star (2006)
- Zhang Yuan – Little Red Flowers (2006)
- Daniel Lee – Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon (2008)
- Roger Spottiswoode – The Children of Huangshi (2008)
- Wu Tianming – The King of Masks (1996)