As I've mentioned 12 times already and will mention at least 6 more, we are going to China soon. The reason I wanted to go to China is because I have been so interested in it. Over the last few years I've read several interesting books about China.
A couple years ago I read J. Maarten Troost's Lost on Planet China and really enjoyed it. It was so funny and had lots of interesting information about China. Troost has also written two other travel books: The Sex Lives of Cannibals and Getting Stoned with Savages. Those other two books are set in Pacific locales where Troost and his wife lived. Lost on Planet China is about somewhere he visited. I liked Lost on Planet China better than his other two books.
I've been encouraging Evan to read it to get ready for our trip. He hasn't picked it up yet though. Maybe I should reread it too.
If you like Bill Bryson, I think you'd like J. Maarten Troost.