I’m in the process of reading Oracle Bones by Peter Hessler. Hessler was a Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, Boston Globe, and National Geographic and also spent time in China with the Peace Corps.
If you haven’t read it I highly recommend it; even though I’m not finished with it the book presents a captivating look at aspects of Chinese society and history on a more personal level.
The anecdotes and experiences related by Hessler show a side of China that I think sometimes gets lost in the talk of international trade and human rights. By telling stories that focus upon Chinese individuals Hessler does a brilliant job of portraying life in Beijing and throughout China.
Below is the description from Amazon:
A century ago, outsiders saw China as a place where nothing ever changes. Today the country has become one of the most dynamic regions on earth. In Oracle Bones, Peter Hessler explores the human side of China’s transformation, viewing modern-day China and its growing links to the Western world through the lives of a handful of ordinary people. In a narrative that gracefully moves between the ancient and the present, the East and the West, Hessler captures the soul of a country that is undergoing a momentous change before our eyes.