More Chinese books I've read 11-20

📅 20 Apr 2024 | ~6 min read
Tags: #book #chinese

It’s been over a year since I wrote about the first ten Chinese books I read, so I think it’s time for an update. I tried only reading books in Chinese in 2023, and I was doing well until I hit a bit of a reading slump and started reading English again. A list of all the books I’ve read can be found here.

《悟空传 - 典藏纪念版》今何在 - Wukong Biography by Jin Hezai

This is considered to be one of the first Chinese web novels, from the time before they were thousands of chapters long. I approached the book the wrong way as I initially thought it was a modern retelling of Journey to the West, and could have been read as a simpler version of the original. While the language is definitely simpler than the original, it was still quite literary. Also, I was only vaguely aware of a few of the main characters from the original Journey to the West, so when you meet all the other characters, it probably means a lot more if you are familiar with the original characters.

《灵幻文论》by 杨夕文 - Psychic Literary Theory by Yang Xiwen

I bought a copy of this book years ago while visiting my wife’s family. It is a book on magic theory by some of China’s top magicians. I found the theory and psychology parts easy to follow, but struggled with following precise instructions and finger placements for sleights.

《开端》祈祷君 - Reset by Qidaojun

This is the book that a very popular Chinese TV show was based on. Without getting into spoilers, it’s a time loop story in which the protagonists enter a loop after the bus they are on explodes. Having already watched the TV adaptation, I think that the team behind it did a great job by keeping all of the best parts of the book, while adding new parts that I think improved on it.

In terms of language, this is one of the easiest books I’ve read. It’s also not very long, so I would have recommended it if I’d read it before the show was out.

《紫川第二部 光明王者》老猪 - Zichuan Volume 2: The King of Light by Lao Zhu

Continuing on with Zichuan, this is now the second volume. Having already watched the cartoon which covered most of the first volume, the story of this volume was entirely new to me. There are a few chapters in this volume that are the best I have read in Chinese and gripped me in ways that not many English books can.

Language wise, reading this after reading the above books was like putting on a comfy old pair of slippers. The author likes to use a lot of the same Chengyu throughout the book which served as great way of drilling them.

《九州-缥缈录 1 蛮荒》江南 - Novoland: Eagle Flag 1: Wasteland by Jiang Nan

This is the second book I’ve read by Jiang Nan and I much preferred it to Dragon Raja. I have read that the Novoland universe that this series is a part of was originally supposed to be China’s answer to Lord of the Rings. I really enjoyed it, and will probably return to the series at a later date.

In terms of language, the author uses a different style of language for each province. For example, this book mostly deals with nomads that definitely feel inspired by Mongolians, and they speak in quite plain language, but I struggled with how they use names. Whereas one of the other main provinces speak in a more classical/literary style which is difficult in a different way.

《看见》柴静 - To see by Chai Jing

A nonfiction book that a friend recommended many years ago. In fact, I believe it was the first Chinese ebook that I ever downloaded. It’s a book written by a TV reporter about her times working stories and what it’s like in the Chinese media industry. There are definitely some stories that are more interesting than others, but I wouldn’t say any are bad. The chapters that stuck with me the most are the ones about the kitten stamper, the tiger, and the one about gay people that she interviewed.

In some ways nonfiction books often have more difficult language, and this is definitely the case here. Chai goes into depth on a range of topics and she also likes to repeat certain phrases in different contexts and have them imply different things.

《紫川第三部 铁腕统领》老猪 - Zichuan Volume 3 - Iron-Fisted Rule by Lao Zhu

Another good Zichuan book. Not as good as the last one, but it’s still enjoyable. There’s not really any point talking about it here as I’m over a million characters at this point.

《阳具森林》九把刀 - Penis Forest by Giddens Ko

I was really looking forward to this book. It was put to me online as a dark comedy by Taiwan’s most popular author in which a group of men wish they had bigger penises, but they never stop growing. It’s a good premise, but the book was so childish, and not interesting in the slightest. The only reason I finished it was because it was so short.

There were other books I wanted to read by this author, but this book really turned me off.

《推理之王1:无证之罪》紫金陈 - Burning Ice by Zijin Chen

Read this book now. I’d watched the TV shows of the author’s other two works, and even though I liked The Bad Kids, I much preferred this. I don’t want to talk too much about it because I won’t be able to stop myself getting into spoilers.

The language is quite simple and I was rarely needing to look up words. Also the author uses lots of short chapters, so it was easy to read a chapter whenever you have a few minutes spare.

《白马啸西风》金庸 - White Horse Neighs in the Western Wind by Jin Yong

I saw that some members of Chinese Forums were reading this book so I decided to join in. It’s another short book and definitely a good introduction to Jin Yong’s writing. I still would recommend reading Gu Long first as I think is language is even easier.

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