“Where is human nature so weak as in a bookstore?” – Henry Ward Beecher

I think Shanghai was the most homesick I’ve ever been. It was too crowded and rushed for me. Everyone always seemed so stressed and anxious. It’s a very uptight culture. It had it’s amazing points as well, but I do remember just wanting quiet and calm often while I was there. Bookstores often offer that solace for me. The Shanghai Foreign Language Bookstore was my bookstore of choice in Shanghai.

sflbs2The Foreign Language Bookstore is located near to People’s Square in the Huangpu District on Fuzhou Road. The staff all speaks Engrish English and there is plenty to choose from. Classics, contemporary, travel guides, magazines, graphic novels. It’s all there for the picking.

I didn’t buy many books in China because I knew I’d be backpacking Southeast Asia before I went back to the states,and I didn’t want to carry a bunch of books around with me, mostly I’d go and browse. Here are the two I did get. Anyone who knows me should applaud me for my nonfiction picks here. Yes, that is right, I feel I deserve applause here.

oshangOld Shanghai: Gangsters in Paradise by Lynn Pan

“Old Shanghai explores the influential lives of the players and gangsters who were actually the undercover puppet masters during Shanghai’s opium years. Lynn Pan breathes life into the story by inviting the reader to explore the depths of Chinese gang culture through her expert and emotionally sure-footed guidance. The swirl of historical narrative hinges on the lives of three extraordinary characters: Huang Jinrong, the chief inspector of the French Concession; Dai Li, the head of the Secret Police; and Big Eared Du, the notorious boss of the Green Gang. Without those three, Shanghai’s reign as ‘Whore of the Orient’ would certainly have been much less salacious.”

gwofchinaThe Great Walk of China by Graham Earnshaw

“In 2004, Earnshaw walked from the heart of Shanghai, The Bund, along the Yangtze River to Tibet. Speaking to thousands of people along the way, a collective that gave shape to his understanding of China, The Great Walk of China is a photojournalistic compendium whose aim was to synthesize Earnshaw’s 30-year-long experience of living in the country. Filled with lively accounts of interesting encounters, fascinating mini-adventures and expert insight into the many changes that have taken place over the years, The Great Walk of China will leave you with a newfound wisdom and understanding of this country and of Shanghai’s place within it.”