A reading list that crosses cultures

Xu Qin
Xuhui District boasts an abundant of art centers, celebrity residences, modern museums, as well as bookstores and libraries.
Xu Qin

Boasting an abundant of art centers, celebrities' residences, historical buildings, modern museums, as well as bookstores and libraries, Xuhui District is widely known as a cultural hub. 

To adapt to new technology and changes, the Xuhui Library has teamed up with almost 100 cultural institutions across the district, including indie bookstores, reading clubs and community reading rooms, to hold a slew of reading events to deliver quality cultural services on everyone’s doorstep.

Li Mingyi, director of the Xuhui Culture Bureau, and Fang Yunfang, director of the Xuhui Library, recommend four books after touring the recent annual Shanghai Book Fair.

“White Deer Plain” by Chen Zhongshi (in Chinese only)

People’s Literature Publishing Literature House

“Bai Lu Yuan,” or “White Deer Plain,” by late Chinese author Chen Zhongshi traces the fates of the Bai and Lu families from the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) to the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

A Mao Dun Literary Prize winner, the novel has been adapted into various art forms from theater to the big screen, including a movie by Wang Quan’an in 2011 and a TV series this year.

“Wukang Road” by Fang Shizhong (In Chinese only)

Zhonghua Book Company

Originally named Route Ferguson, Wukang Road has been home to numerous Chinese celebrities, especially during the mid-20th century. Famous residents include revolutionary Huang Xing, Madame Soong Ching Ling, high-ranking politicians Zhou Fohai, Tang Shaoyi, Chen Lifu, Chen Guofu and Chen Yi, writers Ba Jin and Zheng Zhenduo, singer Zhou Xuan, and many other movie stars and business tycoons. 

With words, graphics and pictures, the book has faithfully recorded a piece of history that is very important to the formation of the haipai (Shanghai style) culture, a unique East-meets-West culture of Shanghai.

“A History of the World in 100 Objects” by Neil MacGregor

Penguin Books, Chinese edition by New Star Press

With the ongoing exhibition “A History of the World in 100 Objects” underway at the Shanghai Museum, the book describes the 100 exhibits collected by the British Museum that previous civilizations left behind. It focuses on the unexpected turning points in the process of human evolution.

“Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow” by Yuval Noah Harari

Harper, Chinese edition by China CITIC Press

Following his international bestseller “Sapiens” in 2011, Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari returns with this original, compelling and provocative book, turning his focus toward humanity’s future.

In “Homo Deus,” the author gives a glimpse of the dreams and nightmares that will shape the rest of the 21st century, hoping that such a prediction will call on reflections of our own behavior in a quest to upgrade humans into gods.

Special Reports