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Recording and Resources—Learning About China

On Thursday, August 26, we hosted a webinar titled “Learning About China: Sipping from a Fire  Hose.” In my presentation, I highlighted key books and other resources that have been helpful to me over the years in deepening my understanding of and love for China.

Here is the list of resources mentioned, along with two important caveats. First, this list reflects my experience and interests. Someone with different experiences and interests would likely generate a different list.

Second, there are many great books and resources that are not on this list. Time and space were (and are) limited which meant I had to keep the list short. My guess is that there are books that are your favorites, or perhaps even books that you wrote, which don’t appear. I’m sure you’ll understand. Remember, this webinar was about sipping, not gulping!

The video of the event is now available on our YouTube channel.    

And here’s my list:



  • To Change China: Western Advisors in China, by Jonathan Spence
  • Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, by June Cheng
  • God’s Chinese Son: The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom of Hong Xiuquan, by Jonathan Spence


China History Podcast

Video series

China in Revolution (PBS)

Culture and Tradition


  • Snowflower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See
  • Encountering the Chinese: A Modern Country; An Ancient Culture, by Hu Wenzhong

Video Series

A Bite of China (CCTV)





  • Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love, and Language, by Deborah Fallows
  • A Billion Voices: China’s Search for a Common Language, by David Moser

Lessons and Listening

  • Passive listening: Chinese TV dramas
  • Online lessons:
  • Chinese Buddy: Songs for Kids (YouTube)

Contemporary Society


  • Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China, by Evan Osnos
  • Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory, by Peter Hessler
  • Shanghai Free Taxi: Journeys with the Hustlers and Rebels of the New China, by Frank Lingfett


Sinica Podcast (Sup China)


Contemporary Chinese films on streaming services



  • The Souls of China: The Return to Religion After Mao, by Ian Johnson
  • Surviving the State; Remaking the Church: A Sociological Portrait of Christians in Mainland China, by Li Ma
  • China’s Urban Christians: A Light That Cannot be Hidden, by Brent Fulton
  • Shanghai Faithful: Betrayal and Forgiveness in a Chinese Christian Family, by Jennifer Lin
  • A Star in the East: The Rise of Christianity in China, by Rodney Stark
  • Salt and Light (series), edited by Carol Lee Hamrin with Stacey Bieler
  • The Bells are Not Silent: Stories of Church Bells in China, by Joann Pittman

Happy sipping!

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Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is Vice President of Partnership and China Engagement and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University …View Full Bio

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