During his speech at the Forum on Literature and Art in Beijing on October 15 , 2014 ,Chinese President Xi Jinping called for writers to deepen their understanding of the significance of literature and art today. The president’s call had a huge impact. The past two 好书推荐：看看习大大的书架有哪些书？years since his speech has seen the publication of a large amount of outstanding Chinese literary works.
It’s no secret that Xi has a passion for reading. On many different occasions he has mentioned literature from different cultures and countries. Back in 2013, in an interview with media from BRIC countries he said, "I have loads of hobbies, my favorite one is reading."
Influenced by China’s ancient philosophy that to bring peace to the land one must first cultivate themselves, before moving on to manage their families and then govern the state, Xi decided early on in his life that if he wanted to cultivate himself reading would be the best choice.
Although found himself working in mountainous and rural areas when he was 15 , Xi went out of his way to find as many books as possible. Xi once said that at the time there was a great atmosphere for reading among his fellows, so they would spend most of their spare time exchanging books with each other. Overseas classics such as The Red and The Black and War and Peace , and traditional Chinese works from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing(1644-1911) dynasties made their way onto his reading list.
It can be said that, literally, I read nearly all the literary classics I could find during that time,” Xi said.
Considering the huge impact Russian literature has had on an entire generation in China ,it should come as no surprise that during an interview with Russian media he was able to wow the Russian people with his knowledge of Russian literature.
According to a People’s Daily article examining Xi’s reading habits published on Thursday, classics such as Eugene Oneginby Alexander Pushkin , A Hero of Our Time by MikhailLermontov , And Quiet Flows the Don by Mikhail Sholokhov and War and Peace and Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy , all resonated with Xi.
"Dostoevsky is the deepest Russian writer,while Tolstoy is the widest. Comparing the twoof them,I prefer Tolstoy," Xi said.
According to Xi , he once was inspired by Nikolai Chernyshevsky’s work What Is to Be Done? , in which the leading character lives an ascetic life , even going so far as to sleep on a bed of nails to strengthen his will. Inspired, Xi and his fellows tried sleeping on their beds without mattresses, going outside on rainy and snowy days and taking cold showers to strengthen their willpower.
In general , German literature boasts magnificent works created by writers such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller. Xi first came across Goethe’s work at age 14 when he read The Sorrows of Young Werther .
During his time working in rural China , he walked 30 kilometers to borrow a copy of Faust from an educated youth that he knew. Perhaps it was the great lengths he went through to get the book , but he fell in love with it after reading it.
During one visit to Germany , Xi admitted to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and a group of German sinologists that the fertile imagination seen in Faust made it difficult for him to understand.
When it comes to the literature of the US, poetry anthology Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman and novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain are both on Xi’s reading list.
However , his favorite US author by far is Jack London , the author behind The Call of the Wild , The Sea-Wolf and Love of Life , the short story much loved by Lenin.
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