The Greatest Mayan, Chinese "Fiction" Books of All Time

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 305 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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  1. 1. Journey to the West by Wu Cheng'en

    "Journey to the West" is a classic Chinese novel that follows the adventures of a Buddhist monk and his three disciples, a monkey, a pig, and a river monster, as they travel from China to India in search of sacred Buddhist scriptures. Along the way, they face a series of challenges and obstacles, including battling demons and overcoming their own personal weaknesses. This epic tale is a blend of mythology, folklore, and fantasy, and is also a commentary on the practice and principles of Buddhism.

    The 492nd Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. Call to Arms by Xun Lu

    "Call to Arms" is a collection of short stories that vividly capture the impact of the socio-political upheaval during the early 20th century in China. The narratives delve into the lives of ordinary people, predominantly the peasantry and the lower classes, who are often caught in the throes of societal change and struggle for survival. Through a blend of realism and symbolism, the stories explore themes of tradition versus modernity, the human condition, and the quest for justice, reflecting the author's critical engagement with the national and cultural issues of his time.

    The 578th Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin

    "Dream of the Red Chamber" is a classic Chinese novel that provides a detailed, episodic record of life in the aristocratic Jia family. The story revolves around the love triangle between the family's heir, his sickly cousin, and his other cousin who is raised to be his wife. It is also a critique of the family's decline and a reflection on the societal norms of the time. The novel is famous for its vivid characterization and psychological depth, and its unique portrayal of Chinese society during the Qing dynasty.

    The 593rd Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Guanzhong Luo

    "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" is a historical novel set in the turbulent years towards the end of the Han dynasty and the Three Kingdoms period in Chinese history, starting in 169 AD and ending with the reunification of the land in 280. The story, part historical, part legend, and part mythical, romanticizes and dramatizes the lives of feudal lords and their retainers, who tried to replace the dwindling Han dynasty or restore it. The novel deals with the plots, personal and military battles, intrigues, and struggles of these states to achieve dominance for almost 100 years.

    The 1045th Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. The Water Margin: Outlaws of the Marsh by Shi Naian

    "The Water Margin: Outlaws of the Marsh" is a classic Chinese novel set during the Song dynasty, revolving around 108 outlaws who gather at Mount Liang to form a sizable army. The narrative explores themes of rebellion, loyalty, and justice, as these bandits challenge the corrupt and oppressive government. Despite their status as outlaws, they follow a strict code of honor and righteousness, often assisting the poor and the weak. The book is a blend of history, folklore, and mythology, offering a vivid portrayal of the political and social dynamics of the era.

    The 1164th Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. Rickshaw Boy by Lao She

    "Rickshaw Boy" is a novel about a young man living in Beijing in the 1920s who struggles to escape poverty and achieve personal independence. Despite his hard work and determination, he is continuously set back by societal and personal misfortunes, including failed business ventures, a disastrous marriage, and the loss of his rickshaw. The book serves as a critique of traditional Chinese society, illustrating the harsh realities of life for the working class during this time period.

    The 1401st Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. Waiting by Ha Jin

    "Waiting" is a story set in China during the Cultural Revolution and its aftermath, revolving around the life of Lin Kong, a military doctor who is torn between his love for two women. He is stuck in an arranged marriage with his traditional wife in the countryside, while he falls in love with a modern, city nurse. The novel explores his 18-year struggle to divorce his wife and marry his lover, depicting the clash between traditional and modern Chinese culture, personal desires, and societal expectations.

    The 1552nd Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie

    This novel tells the story of two teenage boys sent to a remote mountain village for re-education during China's Cultural Revolution. There, they meet a local tailor's daughter, who becomes their friend and the object of their shared affection. The boys discover a hidden suitcase filled with forbidden Western classics in Chinese translation, and their lives are forever changed. The books not only awaken their passion for literature, but also allow them to educate the Seamstress, ultimately leading to a heartbreaking love triangle and a tale of personal freedom against the odds.

    The 1963rd Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

    The book is a science fiction novel that intertwines the cultural revolution of China with a complex narrative involving astrophysics, virtual reality, and alien contact. It follows a disillusioned scientist who, after suffering personal tragedy during the Cultural Revolution, sends a message into space, only to receive a response from an alien civilization on the brink of destruction. As the aliens plan their migration to Earth, a secret organization works to facilitate the invasion, while a disparate group of scientists and military personnel attempt to understand and prevent the impending extraterrestrial crisis. The novel grapples with themes of human nature, technological advancement, and the vast, often incomprehensible universe.

    The 1997th Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. Cold Nights by Ba Jin

    "Cold Nights" is a poignant love story set in the backdrop of China's turbulent political climate during the 1940s. The narrative follows the protagonist, Wan Da, as he navigates through the hardships of life, love, illness, and death. As his wife, Zhenzhen, falls ill with tuberculosis, Wan Da's struggle to secure medical help for her amidst the chaos of war paints a vivid picture of human endurance and the power of love. The book also explores themes of existentialism and the human condition, offering a profound look at life's hardships and the strength of the human spirit.

    The 2652nd Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. Death Of A Red Heroine by Qiu Xiaolong

    "Death Of A Red Heroine" is a crime novel set in 1990s Shanghai, China. The story follows Inspector Chen Cao as he investigates the murder of a young woman, whose body is found in a canal. As Chen delves deeper into the case, he uncovers a web of corruption, political intrigue, and personal secrets that challenge his loyalty to the Communist Party and force him to confront the complexities of modern Chinese society. Through vivid descriptions of Shanghai's changing landscape and insightful commentary on social issues, the novel offers a captivating portrayal of a country in transition.

    The 2771st Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. Teahouse by Lao She

    "Teahouse" is a historical drama that explores 50 years of Chinese history (1898-1948) through the microcosm of a Beijing teahouse. The narrative follows the lives of the teahouse owner and his customers, reflecting the social changes, political turmoil, and cultural shifts of the time. The story provides a deep insight into the Chinese society, its traditions, and the impact of Western influence. It also highlights the struggle of the common people amidst corruption, oppression, and the collapse of traditional values.

    The 2802nd Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. A Hero Born by Jin Yong

    "A Hero Born" is the first installment in an epic martial arts saga set in the Song Dynasty of China, where the story follows the life of Guo Jing, a young boy from a humble background. After his father, a loyal Song patriot, is murdered, Guo Jing is raised by Genghis Khan in the Mongolian steppes. Throughout his adventures, he encounters a diverse cast of characters, learns from legendary martial arts masters, and is imbued with the values of honor, loyalty, and the complex moralities of warfare and brotherhood. His destiny is intertwined with the fate of his nation as he embarks on a quest to become a true hero and to confront formidable enemies that threaten the very fabric of the martial arts world.

    The 2802nd Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. Heavy Wings by Zhang Jie

    "Heavy Wings" is a novel that explores the societal changes in China during the late 20th century. It follows the story of a group of innovative engineers striving to design and build China's first large-scale commercial aircraft. Despite facing numerous challenges such as lack of resources, political interference, and personal struggles, they remain committed to their mission, symbolizing the spirit of perseverance and innovation. The story is a reflection of China's journey towards modernization and technological advancement.

    The 2949th Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. The Scholars by Wu Ching-tzu

    The book is a satirical novel that offers a critical examination of the Chinese scholarly class and the civil service examination system of Imperial China. Through a series of interlinked stories, it follows the lives, careers, and misadventures of a diverse group of scholars, exposing the corruption, pettiness, and hypocrisy that pervade the academic and bureaucratic worlds. The narrative delves into the scholars' pursuit of literary glory and official rank, often at the expense of genuine morality and wisdom, providing a humorous yet poignant commentary on the social and educational values of the time.

    The 3058th Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. Half of Man is Woman by Zhang Xianliang

    This novel provides a deeply personal account of the author's experiences during China's Cultural Revolution and his subsequent imprisonment in a labor camp. The protagonist struggles with the harsh realities of his imprisonment, including starvation and physical abuse, while also grappling with his own identity and the societal expectations of masculinity. His release and subsequent marriage only further complicate his quest for self-understanding, as he navigates the challenges of reintegrating into society and maintaining a relationship with a woman who has her own traumatic past.

    The 3194th Greatest Book of All Time
  17. 17. Cat Country by Lao She

    This novel is a satirical science fiction tale that transports the reader to Mars, where the protagonist, a Chinese man, finds himself stranded in a society inhabited by cat-like humanoids. The narrative delves into the peculiarities and dysfunctions of this Martian civilization, known as Cat Country, highlighting its inhabitants' indolence, corruption, and societal decay. Through the lens of this alien society, the author critiques various aspects of early 20th-century Chinese society, politics, and culture, using the allegorical Cat Country to reflect on human follies, the dangers of political apathy, and the consequences of societal neglect. The story is both a unique exploration of extraterrestrial life and a poignant commentary on the human condition.

    The 3282nd Greatest Book of All Time
  18. 18. Miss Sophie's Diary And Other Stories by Ding Ling

    This collection of stories offers a poignant glimpse into the lives of Chinese women in the early 20th century, grappling with issues of personal freedom, gender roles, and societal expectations. The titular story, written in diary form, provides an intimate look at the emotional turmoil of a young woman confronting her own desires and the constraints placed upon her by traditional norms. The other narratives in the collection similarly explore the inner lives and struggles of women seeking to define themselves in a rapidly changing world, often touching on themes of love, independence, and self-discovery. Through these stories, the book paints a vivid portrait of the complexities of modern womanhood in a society in transition.

    The 3481st Greatest Book of All Time
  19. 19. Love In A Fallen City by Eileen Chang

    "Love in a Fallen City" is a collection of novellas and short stories that delve into the complexities of love, betrayal, and societal expectations in mid-20th century China. The stories primarily focus on women navigating the challenging terrain of romance and marriage in a rapidly changing society. The titular story captures the tumultuous relationship between a divorced woman and a playboy against the backdrop of World War II, exploring themes of survival, traditional values, and personal transformation. Through elegant prose and deep psychological insight, the book portrays the collision of Eastern and Western cultures and the personal struggles of individuals caught in the throes of historical upheaval.

    The 3813th Greatest Book of All Time
  20. 20. My City: A Hong Kong Story by Xi Xi

    "My City: A Hong Kong Story" is a compelling narrative that provides an intimate exploration of Hong Kong through the author's eyes. The author weaves a rich tapestry of the city's unique culture, history, and identity, drawing on personal experiences, observations, and a deep love for the city. The book is a poignant tribute to Hong Kong, presenting the city's transformation over the years and the challenges it faces, while also highlighting its resilience and spirit.

    The 4059th Greatest Book of All Time
  21. 21. Love Must Not Be Forgotten by Zhang Jie

    The narrative explores the complexities of love and memory through the lens of a woman who discovers her deceased mother's diary, which reveals a poignant and secret love affair. As the daughter delves into the pages, she confronts her own romantic dilemmas and the societal pressures of 1980s China. The story weaves together themes of personal freedom, the weight of traditional expectations, and the enduring impact of love across generations, prompting the protagonist to reflect on her life choices and the possibility of happiness in her future relationships.

    The 4130th Greatest Book of All Time
  22. 22. The Plum in the Golden Vase by Anonymous

    "The Plum in the Golden Vase" is a classic Chinese novel set during the Song Dynasty. It follows the life of Ximen Qing, a corrupt social climber and lustful merchant, who is involved with six different women. The narrative explores themes of sexuality, corruption, and societal decay, providing a detailed and critical examination of the culture and society of the time. The novel is also known for its explicit eroticism and is considered one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature.

    The 4169th Greatest Book of All Time
  23. 23. Spring Moon by Betty Bao Lord

    Set against the backdrop of a changing China from the late Qing Dynasty through the Cultural Revolution, the novel follows the life of Spring Moon, a young noblewoman of the Soong family. As she navigates the complexities of tradition and modernity, Spring Moon experiences personal tragedies and triumphs while witnessing the seismic shifts in Chinese society. Her story is one of love, loss, and resilience, reflecting the broader historical forces at play that reshape her country and her family's destiny. Through her eyes, readers experience the clash of old values with new ways, and the struggle to find harmony amidst chaos.

    The 4376th Greatest Book of All Time
  24. 24. The Garlic Ballads: A Novel by Yan Mo

    The novel is a harsh critique of the Chinese government's agricultural policy. Set in 1980s China, it tells the story of the farmers of Paradise County, who are encouraged by the government to plant garlic, only to find that the government can't or won't buy their crops, leading to violent protests. The narrative is centered around three characters - Gao Yang, who has been arrested for leading the protests; his blind father, Gao Ma, who continues to struggle with the garlic harvest; and Jinju, the woman both men love. The book is a powerful exploration of corruption, love, the human spirit, and the struggle for justice in an oppressive regime.

    The 5182nd Greatest Book of All Time
  25. 25. Soul Mountain by Xingjian Gao

    The novel follows a protagonist who embarks on a journey to the remote mountains of Southwest China after being misdiagnosed with lung cancer. Along the way, he encounters a variety of characters and experiences that lead him to self-discovery and a reconnection with nature. The narrative is filled with philosophical reflections, folklore, and tales of rural China, presenting a complex exploration of the human condition and the struggle for personal freedom.

    The 5408th Greatest Book of All Time

Reading Statistics

Click the button below to see how many of these books you've read!


If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.