It’s not the New York Times and it is certainly a bit slanted towards Beijing by the nature of its source, but the list of top ten books noted by users of book club site Douban.com is a whimsical glimpse into what young, plugged-in Chinese are reading offline these days. Here is the list as it stands today:
- Wang Shuo – “My Thousand-Year Chill” (Ramblings by Beijing intellectual badboy and blowhard.)
- Jack Kerouac – “On The Road” (New translation by prominent but aging scholar Wang Yongnian.)
- Xu Zhiyuan – “The Mournful Youth” (Peking University graduate, LifeMagazine editor, One-way Street Library founder and blogger writes about his youth as a member of China’s Generation Y.)
- Umberto Eco – “Baudolino” (Translated by Yang Mengzhe.)
- Tian Yuan – “Double Mono” (Beijing author, HK actress, lead singer of band Hopscotch, and blogger/MySpacer writes about love, youth and self-discovery.)
- Zeng Zimo – “Ink Marks” (Beijing-born Phoenix TV host, Harvard grad and once-Morgan Stanley New York office analyst’s auto-bio is paired with former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina’s book for Joyo.com’s “Buy Together” feature.)
- Kenya Hara – “Design of Design” (Muji’s Creative Director and director of the Nippon Design Center; translated from Japanese by Zhu E; original title was デザインのデザイン)
- Cai Kangyong & Kele Wang – “Those Things I Learned From Boys” (Taiwanese TV host joins poet and illustrator for 30 sentimental stories about boys.)
- Yu Dan – “Things I Learned from Zhuangzi” (Prof of classics and media studies at Beijing Normal University interprets the ancients for the post-moderns.)
- Hong Huang – “A Pointless and Perfect Life” (Ramblings by Beijing aristocrat, controversial publisher and (yet another) blowhard.)
For comparison, at the top of the stack on Douban’s English site, Douban.net are Friedman’s “The World is Flat”, the playful “Gödel, Escher, Bach” and Booker-garnering “Life of Pi”.
Photo of Douban mug by keso.