Latest Issue

View from China: Reader’s block in Beijing

Amid the frenzy there is little room for the slow pleasures of the book

By Yuan Ren   March 2017

It’s getting harder to sit down and read a book in Beijing. Even with the enduring smog outside being the perfect excuse for staying in, shutting the door and doing exactly that, a mere five minutes into chapter one and I’m already fretting over whether the delivery man is trying to reach me by phone.

Everything comes fast at you in China, and the sensory overload leaves no room for continuity. E-shop and your order arrives next morning. WeChat—a sort of combined Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp—engulfs the lives around me. Many…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect