The Chinese View of their Place in the World by C.P. Fitzgerald (1964, Oxford University Press)
This is a short book (72 pages) which was produced by an Australian expert on China who had spent nearly 15 years in the country. It was written in 1964, prior to Nixon’s attempt to open U.S. relations with them.
The book is dry but informative, a studious attempt to explain not only the governmental positions but also the viewpoints of the average Chinese citizen. Because the author spent time in the country both before and after World War II, and then visited extensively after the communist revolution, he is able to examine the common points between all three time periods and extrapolate from that an informed interpretation of Chinese self-image.
That viewpoint has likely changed dramatically in the half-century since the publication of this book, primarily because of the events which have vaulted China into the status of international powerhouse. That said, there is value in understanding the roots of the current cultural situation in the country. This book is a helpful step in that direction.
Unshelved by Gene Ambaum & Bill Barnes (2004, Overdue Media)
Unshelved was a successful web-only comic strip which ran for more than a decade with daily updates. At the time it was being produced, there were three main reasons for comics being internet-only as opposed to newspaper strips. The first was quality; dozens of strips were produced which simply displayed inferior writing, art, or both. The second was content; these strips were replete with potentially offensive humor that no national syndicate would risk association with. The third was a niche market, where the strip was perceived to appeal to too small a segment of society to merit being syndicated.
Unshelved was part of that last group, because it focused on a library. The main character was a male librarian named (of course) Dewey, but the rest of the staff and even a handful of the regular patrons had time in the spotlight. The strip typically focused on short story arcs of one to two weeks and attempted to progress the lives of the characters.
What rendered the strip unique was the tendency of the creators to include full-page illustrated book reviews on Sundays. Even without that, however, the comics are family-friendly and an insight into the often bureaucratic nightmares of local library associations.