You M-U-S-T read Chen Guidi and Wu Chuntao's Will the Boat Sink the Water: The Life of China's Peasants. The book, an immediate mega-bestseller in China, was soon banned—but pirated copies have exceeded legitimate sales by millions.
Yes, I'm one of the ones who talks non-stop about China. And I doubt I'll stop. Nonetheless these two authors tell a compelling and gut-wrenching story about the 900 million Chinese left behind, leagues and leagues behind, as China's economy has soared. The story in and of itself is extraordinary—and the implication that "this must not/will not stand" is utterly fascinating. And, yes, on my recent trip to Norway and Sweden I read it in one sitting!
With much less gravitas, I recommend a couple of fiction entries:
JPod by Douglas Coupland is a matchless look at how today's generation is living and working. It is at once hilarious and compelling—and instructive. Ben, my 21-year-old stepson, raced through it on vacation, and then passed it to me.
Legends, by Robert Littell. I love thriller-spook stories. This tops Le Carré for me. Here's the Washington Post: "Littell has outdone himself [no mean feat—TP] with this dizzying, dazzling portrait of a spy who has so many identities—legends, in spook talk—that he no longer knows who he is."