Recommended resources for intermediate Mandarin Chinese study?
February 27, 2014 12:48 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for books and other resources to help improve my intermediate Mandarin Chinese skills! I'm at a point where a lot of the adult books that I try to read are stuffed with chengyu and obscure vocabulary, but I want something a little more advanced and a little more engaged with contemporary Chinese culture than translations of American children's novels.

Things that I am looking for are:

-Breezy, casual essay collections
-Any kind of fiction written in a contemporary, casual style (that is: not a million chengyu everywhere)
-Young adult books
-A good intermediate textbook that deals seriously with issues in contemporary Chinese society, preferably one that includes a CD or audio download.
-I don't know if this exists, but an intermediate-level textbook/CD/audio resource that's specifically focused on improving listening comprehension?

Simplified characters preferred, but I can deal with traditional.

I know of Chinese Breeze and other readers for second language learners, and I'm not really looking for those, and I know about the various Chinese podcasts, but if you have any recommendations outside the boundaries of what I've outlined here I would be glad to hear about those as well!
posted by Jeanne to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
You might want to ask this same question on the Stack Exchange Chinese Language site, and also look at the learning resources on their wiki. I noticed they mention FluentU, which is a pretty cool Chinese language learning site.
posted by Dansaman at 2:30 PM on February 27, 2014

You want to read Yu Hua(余华)'s books. He writes in simple, clear language and his stories are set in the modern era (1950s - present day). And most Chinese people are very familiar with his books. One of them, 活着("To Live") was made into a movie by Zhang Yimou.

I'd recommend starting with 许三观卖血记(English: Chronicle of a Blood Merchant). It's very easy to read - someone with intermediate Mandarin and a knowledge of the most essential characters should have no trouble.

I also like Wang Xiaobo(王小波). 黄金时代("Golden Age") chronicles his experiences during the Cultural Revolution being sent down to the countryside as a student, and is a fairly easy read.
posted by pravit at 2:43 PM on February 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Lu Xun was among the first to write in "vernacular Chinese," and I hear that his style is very accessible.
posted by serelliya at 5:22 PM on February 27, 2014

I started reading a lot more when I gave up books for magazines. Contemporary topics, current language, and shorter reads. Nanfang Zhoumo has been my perennial favorite.
posted by msittig at 5:39 AM on February 28, 2014

Response by poster: Thank you for the suggestions! I am still waiting for some holds to come in from my library, but I managed to get my hands on some stories by Wang Xiaobo, and I think they're exactly the right thing.
posted by Jeanne at 7:15 PM on March 6, 2014

There's also a magazine called "读者" which is like the Chinese equivalent of Reader's Digest. It has various articles, essays, and short stories on a variety of topics, and is very easy reading. It is not the most intellectual reading, and is rather corny/sentimental at times but it's good for picking up common vocabulary. I'm pretty sure you can buy them in Manhattan Chinatown, they have whole volumes of past issues.
posted by pravit at 8:00 PM on March 6, 2014

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