River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze
by Peter Hessler
Within days of announcing this trip, four different people suggested this book, and I wasn't disappointed.
Written as narrative non-fiction, the book covers two years when Peter Hessler taught English in Fuling as a Peace Corps volunteer. I was a little slow to get into the story, which in part reflected the experience of the author. It takes him some time to hit his stride in Fuling, and once he does, the story picks up too.
Although I won't be going near Fuling, general lessons can be learned from Hessler's experiences. For example, here are his two very useful ways to handle any questions or topics that might be sensitive.
"Americans do not have much information on this subject. I would like to learn more."
"I do not know if it is true, but I have been told..."
I also recommend the book if you have any interest in the topic of damming the Yangtze. I do not know if it is true, but I have been told the dam may cause environmental problems.