Chinese tell expats, 'Don't read these books!'
Published: Apr 23, 2010 02:19 AM Updated: May 25, 2011 01:24 PM

By Lin Meilian

Some local residents may look down their noses at expatriates because they do not understand China. For the expats, one way to understand this country is to read. But there are some Chinese books that local people do not want expats to read.

Here are some of the books that Chinese journalists, university students and a columnist would prefer to keep off a foreigner's recommended reading list:

China's Not Happy

Song Shaojun, Wang Xiaodong, Huang Jisu, Song Qiang and Liu Yang

The book is a follow-up to the 1996 publication, China Can Say No, which complained about how China is being treated in the world.

"Reading China's Not Happy makes me unhappy, I don't think expats would be happy reading it either. The hype of nationalism is just stirring the flames of hatred. If anyone managed to get to the end of the book without feeling disgust, I would like to know their names."

Comment by Chen Yimin, a writer

Niubi!: The Real Chinese You Were Never Taught in School

Eveline Chao

Published by Penguin last month, Niubi ("Newbie") is a collection of slang words that the author learned from friends and personal experience; words used when flirting and dating, fighting and partying and all the swear words.

"The best thing I can say about this book is that it is a very useful tool for you to quarrel like a native speaker. And that is also the worst thing about it. I would feel naked if expats understood my slang."

Comment by Sang Xi, a columnist


Tiny Times 2.0

Guo Jingming

This fictional tale of friendship and love between young people in Shanghai is a sequel to a paperback bestseller Tiny Times 1.0. According to OpenBook, an information service provider for the book market, Tiny Times 2.0 sold more than 1.2 million copies in seven days early January.

"I try my best to avoid reading this book. I know this book will finish me off like having an illness. Do not try this book. Otherwise you might end up thinking all Chinese youth are like those characters in the book who have nothing better to do but love, love and love."

Comment by Mao Renjie, a reporter

The Ugly Chinaman and the Crisis of Chinese Culture

Bo Yang

Since its publication in 1985, the book has provoked debate over the dark side of Chinese life. Bo strongly criticizes Chinese people for imitating the past rather than looking toward the future, and failure to admit mistakes.

"Way, way too shameful. The book truly reflects the bad things about Chinese people such as face-saving and feelings of inferiority. Expats might take advantage of these shortcomings to rule Chinese people."

Comment by Zhai Qi, a former TV producer

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Lisa See

The book, an international bestseller, is about the lifelong friendship between two girls who develop their own secret code as a way to cope with the rigid restrictions imposed on women in 19th century China.

"How can a book be beautiful and unreadable at the same time? The plot about the intimacy of two little girls leads me thinking in another direction. I heard it is being turned into a lesbian movie. Interesting, though."

Comment by Li Jie, a university student

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