With the Shanghai International Literary Festival coming up in March--and lots of heavy hitter intellectual-types rolling into town--it’s time to better ourselves with knowledge. And since we’re in China, it ought to be China-knowledge.

There’s no better place to start for China knowledge than The China Beat which has just come out with a fascinating two part suggested reading list for President Barack Obama. Even though we may not be responsible for maintaining harmonious relations between two superpowers (or are we?) the list is a valuable and very accessible primer for anyone interested in contemporary China.

Highlights include:

Beyond Tiananmen by Robert Suettinger
China Into the Future edited by John Hoffman and Michael Enright
The River Runs Black by Elizabeth Economy
Chinese Lessons by John Pomfret

Here’s the full list 1 and here’s the full list 2