For the Guardian she named her top ten books that throw everything you think you know upside down, including:
River Town by Peter HesslerRead about the other books on the list.
Peter Hessler spent two years in China, teaching in a small town on the Yangtze, around fifteen years ago. He describes his day to day life and how he gradually came to feel at home in the town and make friends with local people. There are many more up-to-date books about China, but when I was in Beijing last month, this is the book everyone told me to read, to understand what life was like beyond the big cities.
River Town also appears among Hilary Spurling's top ten Chinese books, Rory Stewart's favorite travel books, and Oliver August's five best guides to China and its history.