- Wild Swans (Jung Chang) - an autobiographical family history of three generations of women, the first of whom was married to a warlord (I think) and the last of whom grew up as the daughter of somewhat powerful officials during the Cultural Revolution. Grounds a lot of the context one learns about Chinese history surrounding the Cultural Revolution.
- Red Scarf Girl (Ji-Li Jiang) - an autobiographical story of a girl who was a teenager during the Cultural Revolution and had to participate in in Red Guard. I read this when I was around the age of the narrator (12) and it put a lot things into perspective.
- Mao's Last Revolution (Roderick MacFarquhar) - I have not read this whole book but I took a course from Roderick MacFarquhar, who was an amazing lecturer (and amazing person!). (This is the best course I have ever taken--the lectures and readings were unparalleled.) After becoming a reporter in order to go into government, he ended up in China during the Cultural Revolution and became a major Chinese history scholar. I admire how he has tried to get a good picture from all sides with respect to the cultural Revolution and he is able to convey this information in an interesting and clear way. (He was later a member of British Parliament.)
- Tea that Burns (Bruce Hall) - the fourth-generation Chinese American author traces his family's history in context of Chinese immigration to Chinatowns in the 19th century. A great way to learn about the history of Chinese-American immigration.
- Bound Feet and Western Dress (Pang-Mei Natasha Chang) - the American-born, Harvard-educated author writes a dual memoir about her great-aunt Chang Yu-I, a member of an important Chinese family, and her own struggles with discovering her identity as a Chinese American woman. The book talks a lot about Chang Yu-I's struggle to establish a place for herself as a Chinese woman in a changing world: she did not have her feet bound because she cried too much and her brother dissuaded her mother from continuing; she was part of the first modern divorce in China; she became the first woman vice president of a Shanghai bank. This book resonated with my own struggle to resolve my desire to preserve tradition with the fact that many traditional Chinese values devalue women.