The Best Three Books FROM Hong Kong ABOUT Hong Kong ❤️🏙
If I had to choose my favorite overseas place on the planet Earth, my first pick would be Hong Kong — it has always been Hong Kong, and I think it will continue being my first pick for a very long time, though other places might come close to being first. 😊
When most people think of Hong Kong, they probably think of high-rise buildings, mind-blowing photographs of streets with twenty layers of neon store lights, and bustling crosswalks. Someone who visits Hong Kong for the first time will most likely go to Hong Kong Island (the main tourist area of Hong Kong), which solidifies people’s image of Hong Kong as, well, one of the cities that never sleep, along with Tokyo and New York. 😴
I love Hong Kong for the bright lights and busy nights as well, but there are other, less-known-to-the-typical-tourist aspects of Hong Kong that continues to make it one of my favorite places in the world:
the complex Cantonese language 🗣️
how new words and phrases are added to Cantonese every time I go to Hong Kong;
how some colloquial phrases don’t have a written Cantonese equivalent;
and how saying a words with the slightest difference in tone or pronunciation
can change a once-innocent word into one you should never say 😅
the intricate Cantonese culture 🐉
which is neither completely Chinese, nor completely British.
Remnants of Hong Kong life during it’s time as a British colony
still remains in coins, post boxes, and the road signs
that contain both Chinese and English.
Yet if I travel to more remote places like the island of 大澳 (Tai O)
the feel of the culture just completely changes
compared to the feel of it on Hong Kong Island.
and lastly, because
Hong Kong is a place I associate with summer, travel, and family. ❤
It’s because of these main aspects of Hong Kong
that make it a place I love so much —
and want you to know more about! 😄
In my experience, reading is the quickest and simplest way I’ve learned about the world around me. Yes, reading about a place doesn’t compare to actually traveling to the place itself, but reading about a place in the world your haven’t visited before gives you a general feel of the place. The books I’ve selected here can be read by someone who has never immersed themselves in the Cantonese Chinese culture before. At the same time, though, for those who know Hong Kong or the Cantonese Chinese culture quite well, then these books are a must-read treat for you. 😋
If you’re curious about Hong Kong beyond the tourism and want to learn more about the culture, social changes, or life in Hong Kong, then these three books will be perfect for you.
Without further ado, let’s introduce
The Best Three Books
About Hong Kong! ❤️🏙
(That I just so happened to buy while in Hong Kong. 😁)
First up, we have Hong Kong Unveiled by Clare Baillieu and Betty Hung. This is a light and easy book to read that covers a tremendous amount of aspects of the Cantonese culture without making the information overwhelming. It talks about cultural customs and celebrations (e.g. auspicious foods, how Chinese New Year is celebrated), what questions you should or shouldn’t ask people you meet, how swearing works in Cantonese, and also Hong Kong’s “perception of time,” which I thought was interesting to read about.
All of these little tidbits of Hong Kong will accumulate into anyone’s enhanced understanding of Hong Kong, even if you go into this novel with a pretty good understanding of the culture. I thought I knew a lot about the culture of Hong Kong before diving into Hong Kong Unveiled, but I realized as I was reading the book how many little aspects of Hong Kong (like how festivals are celebrated) were things I didn’t completely understand before.
Overall, I’m really glad I stumbled upon this book. It was everything I wanted in a book about the Cantonese Chinese culture, and for anyone who wants to take a huge step in truly understanding the intricacies of Hong Kong, then Hong Kong Unveiled is the book for you. 😊👍
The next to two books are both by Jason Y. Ng, who took his writing from his blog about Hong Kong and put them into book form. His first collection was published in Hong Kong State of Mind: 37 Views of a City That Doesn’t Blink, and he later also published No City for Slow Men: Hong Kong’s Quirks and Quandaries Laid Bare.
Both books are insightful, thoughtfully-written, and provides accurate descriptions of Hong Kong life. It’s important to note that within these descriptions of Hong Kong are Ng’s own analysis of social issues and political issues within the city. His arguments and interpretation of what is happening in Hong Kong add another dimension of reality to these books, as they are written by someone expressing their opinion on what is happening in Hong Kong today. Though I currently don’t keep track of the political issues happening within Hong Kong, reading about someone’s perspective on them introduced me to issues within Hong Kong that I never knew existed.
These two novels inspired me to observe more deeply what is happening around me in my daily life and my own hometown like Ng had done for Hong Kong. However, according to his author bio, Ng hasn’t lived in Hong Kong his entire life. In a way, this aspect makes his reading more relatable as he isn’t quite a foreigner in Hong Kong, yet he will never be a local who has lived in Hong Kong for the entirety of his life.
These three novels are all by Blacksmith Books, a publishing house based in Hong Kong that publishes books related to anything Chinese. I’ve looked through their books, and I just want to read all of them! 😆 The topics are all really interesting and actually things that I’ve thought about before and have looked for books regarding them for a very long time. Some examples of topics they cover are the Eurasian face, guides for dim sum dishes, and written experiences of people about Hong Kong society, schools, and the government.
I hope you enjoyed this post on the best three books about Hong Kong that I’ve read thus far. If you have any recommendations for what other good books about Hong Kong I can read, then please tell me in the comments below —
Whisk Me Away With Your Thoughts! 🌌
Thanks for reading, and I will cya next time!
(Yes — the picture above is of mini clay Hong Kong hot dog buns (港式腸仔包), egg tarts (蛋撻), and coconut tarts (椰撻) 😆😋. Doesn’t it just make you hungry? Comment below if you’ve ever had one of these signature three snacks from Hong Kong!)