Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

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In the last few years, I’ve gone through several drama droughts, where I wasn’t interested in any of the dramas coming out. As the popularity of IP adaptations continued to surge and seeing the more light-hearted comedies released, I decided it was time to venture into the source medium.

However, where to start was always puzzling and how should I prioritise this growing list of Chinese novels I accumulated? I’m not sure if I’m alone in this, but after a while I became overwhelmed and now those books on my TBR list just sit there, whilst I find other novels to read. I normally visit Douban when I want to find a new novel to read, but Douban has three ways of arranging their novels; their comprehensive arrangement (whatever that may mean), arrange by date or arrange by rating. As the ratings lover that I am, here is a list of highest rated romance novels on Douban.

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Data Collection and Criteria19-2510-186-93-51-2Thoughts and Books I've Read

The problem with the arrange by ratings is that many of the top rated novels have very little votes. So I decided it should be an easy task to sort through the romance (言情) list and remove those with low votes (I decided 1000 would be the base, since most popular novels have tens of thousands of votes, and I felt that number meant enough people voiced their opinion). That’s where I came into the first hurdle of this list, I became aware that many novels with more than one book were being listed, in addition to the different versions sometimes too. The second hurdle made me cry aloud, the other members of the AVV team can attest to this, as I realised a lot of novels I knew had high ratings were missing from the list. So I decided I would list as many novels as I had the time to at that moment from ‘arrange by ratings’ and then I went through the first 30 pages of Douban’s comprehensive arrangement to check that I wasn’t missing other highly rated novels.

In regards to dealing with the multiple books and copies of one novel, I decided it was best to average out the scores, I understand that this may make it that some people who voted more than once have their scores unfairly counted, but after deliberating for a while, I realised I’m quite incompetent at Maths, so I just went back to that idea. And since I spent hours on this list that I thought would only take me an hour, I decided to share it here, even if it is quite different from the posts you regularly see on AVV. This list only includes novel listed under 言情; data was collected 9 May 2020, with 650+ books recorded.

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鬓边不是海棠红(Winter Begonia) by 水如天儿(Shui Ru Tian Er)

Rating: 8.4 || Votes:2220
Adaptation Status: Was adapted into a drama starring Huang Xiao Ming and Yin Zheng, released this year, 2020.

Update:  I have realised in the span of writing this list the novel now has 2252 at 8.3 rather than 8.4

 

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七夜雪 (Seven Nights of Snow by) by 沧月(Cang Yue)

Rating: 8.4 || Votes:32617
Adaptation Status: N/A 

 

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打火机与公主裙 (The Lighter and the Princess’ Gown) by Twentine 

Rating: 8.4 || Votes:7076+4581
Adaptation Status: There are rumours that the rights have been purchased and will be made into a drama soon. 

 

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海棠依旧:知否?知否?应是绿肥红瘦 (Story of Ming Lan) by 关心则乱(Guan Xin Ze Luan)

Rating: 8.4 || Votes:4995+1363+1225+1181+392+386+349+355+341
Adaptation Status: This novel was adapted into a drama starring Zhao Li Ying and Feng Shao Feng,  released in late 2018 to early 2019. 

Update:  I became aware that there is another version of the novel with 5560 at 7.4, which makes the updated score for this novel 8.1. (Which also means it technically does not make this list anymore)

 

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红玫瑰与白玫瑰(Red Rose, White Rose) By 张爱玲(Zhang Ai Ling/ Eileen Chang)

Rating: 8.4 || Votes:78295
Adaptation Status: Was adapted into a movie released in 1994 starring Joan Chen, Winston Chao and Veronica Yip.

 

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流金岁月(My Best Friend’s Story) by 亦舒(Yi Shu)

Rating: 8.4 || Votes:8379
Adaptation Status: The drama is currently filming, starring Liu Shi Shi and Ni Ni. 

 

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上海堡垒 (Once Upon a Time in Shanghai) by 江南(Jiang Nan)

Rating: 8.4 || Votes:18325
Adaptation Status: The novel was infamously adapted into a movie, titled Shanghai Fortress, starring Lu Han and Shu Qi.  A drama is apparently in the works.

 

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大唐明月 (Da Tang Ming Yue) by 藍雲舒(Lan Yun Shu)

Rating: 8.5 || Votes:2598+339+138+124+104
Adaptation Status: Drama is rumoured to start filming in May 2020, starring Guli Nazha and Xu Wei Zhou(Timmy Xu)

 

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过门(Through the Strait Gates) by Priest

Rating: 8.5 || Votes:3765
Adaptation Status: N/A 

 

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琅琊榜 (Lang Ya List) by 海宴(Hai Yan)

Rating: 8.5 || Votes:28160
Adaptation Status: Drama, titled Nirvana in Fire, was released in 2015 starring Hu Ge, Wang Kai and Liu Tao

 

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六爻 (Liu Yao) by Priest

Rating: 8.5 || Votes:5857
Adaptation Status: Rights purchased by Mango TV (Hunan TV).

 

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那些回不去的年少时光(Time Will Never Go Back) by 桐华(Tong Hua)

Rating: 8.5 || Votes:48413+18925
Adaptation Status: Rights have been purchased. Rumoured to be getting both a movie and drama. However, this news is quite a few years old already and there has not been many updates since then.

 

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你好,旧时光 (Hello, Old Times) by 八月长安 (Ba Yue Chang An)

Rating: 8.5 || Votes: 9154
Adaptation Status: Adapted into a drama called My Huckleberry Friends, released in 2017 starring Li Landi and Zhang Xincheng.

 

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十二年故人戏 (The Twelve Years: Song of the Unsung Friends) by 墨宝非宝(Mo Bao Fei Bao)

Rating: 8.5 || Votes:18325
Adaptation Status: N/A 

 

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夜旅人 (Night Traveller) by 赵熙之(Zhao Xi Zhi)

Rating: 8.5 || Votes:4462
Adaptation Status: Rights have been purchased.

 

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倾城之恋 (Love in a Fallen City) by 张爱玲(Zhang Ai Ling/ Eileen Chang)

Rating: 8.5 || Votes:78295
Adaptation Status: Was adapted into a film starring Chow Yun-fat and Cora Miao, released in 1984.

 

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孤城闭 (Held in the Lonely Castle) by 米兰Lady(Milan Lady)

Rating: 8.6 || Votes:4177
Adaptation Status: Drama, which changed its title before airing to Serenade of Peaceful Joy is currently airing starring Wang Kai.
Note: The book focuses on the love story between the princess and her eunuch.

 

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镜·双城 (Mirror Twin Cities) by 沧月(Cang Yue)

Rating: 8.6 || Votes:7307
Adaptation Status: Rights have been purchased and after many delays the drama is rumoured to begin filming soon starring Li Yi Feng and Chen Yu Qi. 

 

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那个不为人知的故事 (The Story That No One Knows) by Twentine

Rating: 8.6 || Votes:12568+2785
Adaptation Status: Rights have been purchased.

 

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西出玉门 (Xi Exiting Yu Men) by 尾鱼(Wei Yu)

Rating: 8.6 || Votes:2684+1420+1729
Adaptation Status: There are rumours rights have been purchased.

 

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浮生若梦1 (Life is but a Dream 1/Destiny) by 缪娟(Miao Juan)

Rating: 8.7 || Votes:4189
Adaptation Status: N/A

 

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香初上舞 (Xiang Chu Shang Wu) by 藤萍(Teng Ping)

Rating: 8.7 || Votes:6445
Adaptation Status: Rights have been purchased, rumour is that it will be turned into a drama and movie.

 

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最好的我们 (Best of Us) by 八月长安 (Ba Yue Chang An)

Rating: 8.7 || Votes:54562
Adaptation Status: Drama, titled With You, was released in 2016 starring Liu Hao Ran and Tan Song Yun. In 2019 the movie adaptation titled My Best Summer was released, starring Chen Fei Yu and He Lan Dou.

 

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天才基本法 (Genius Fundamentals/ The Heart of Genius) by 长洱(Zhang Er)

Rating: 8.8 || Votes:4911+1434
Adaptation Status: Rights have been purchased, casting is undergoing. To be directed by Shen Yan (The Rise of Phoenixes, The First Half of My Life).

 

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有匪 (Bandits) by Priest

Rating: 8.8 || Votes:11030+9074+4006+2925+2518
Adaptation Status: Drama recently wrapped filming, starring Zhao Li Ying and Wang Yi Bo. Expected to be released in 2021. 

 

Out of the novels on this list, I had 4 on my TBR list for quite a while now; those being Bandits, The Story That No One Knows, Held in the Lonely Castle and Lang Ya List.  I’ve read a few chapters of Lang Ya List and will eventually go back. 

 

Thoughts and Spoilers on The Story That No One Knows

The only novel I’ve fully read on this list is The Story That No One Knows.  If it’s not known to everyone by now, I like angst and my preference in novels is exactly that. I first heard of this novel in the comments when I was listening to 曾有一个人,爱我如生命 (There Was Once a Person, Who Loved Me with His Life).  However, I wasn’t exactly in love with the the latter, so I put this one on my TBR list indefinitely.  After compiling this list and knowing for a while of the high rating for The Story That No One Knows, I caved and gave it a go. 

Besides this novel having an ending I gravitate to, it’s not a torturous type of angst, but rather it’s a heart breaking story about two relatively normal and relatable people.  When I was reading it, I didn’t feel immersed into the love story or the characters, but there came a point in the novel, where I realised I cared.   Only after finishing the novel and having a day to collect my thoughts did I recognise how vivid these characters were and how much their lives touched me.  Rather than it being a story that hooked me from the beginning and made me fall in love with the characters immediately, it’s one that took time, but in so presented a very memorable story. I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite Chinese romance novel though, but that’s probably because I like being tortured until my heart is smashed into pieces. 

Have you guys read/listened to any of the books on the list? 

 

 

  1. 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

    Thanks for the awesome list. Most of these novels are so long and too difficult for my reading level.

    My Chinese is mediocre, so I’ve been reading shorter (and easier IMO) romance novels. As fate would have it, I had started reading 顾漫 (Gu Man) novels just as they started filming Boss & Me (with Zhao Liying & Zhang Han) based on the novel 杉杉来吃 / Shan Shan Come Eat. That ended up being my least favourite of the Gu Man novels and drama adaptation. Her novel 何以笙箫默 (Silent Separation) was better than the drama version My Sunshine. I think it was a miscast or Leo Luo Yunxi and Janice Wu were just too good in the college phase that Wallace Chung and Tiffany Tang just felt odd in the mature adult phase. My favourite was both the novel and drama version of 微微一笑很倾城 / Love O2O (with Zheng Shuang & Yang Yang). The romance and friendships were wonderful. And the drama didn’t add unnecessary fillers and angst between the OTP. I did not watch either of the movie versions as the reviews were mostly negative.

    Another author that I like is Taiwanese author 席绢 (Xi Juan). The drama 错点鸳鸯 (with Zhao Liying & Qi Ji) was based on her novel 交错时光的爱恋. The older classic drama 上错花轿嫁对郎 (Wrong Carriage, Right Groom) is based on her marriage series of novels, with 请你将就一下 being my favourite. This story focuses on 杜冰雁 after she marries the general by accident. The FL was just so awesome and her romance with the older general was funny and romantic. I was originally put off by how old the actor playing the general was in the drama, but he eventually won me over =)

    One of my recent favourite Chinese novels is 魔道祖师 (Mo Dao Zu Shi / Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation). I started reading this while watching the Untamed last year and no regrets! Love the drama and the novel.

    • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

      The Gu Man novels are a nice starting place, since they’re quite short. But there are a few youth novels on the list that you should have a go at. I mainly listen to audiobooks since my reading skills aren’t the best either.

      • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

        Oh, I will have to look into which novels are the youth novels and add them to my list for when I’m in a drama drought. Thanks =)

        I’m a Cantonese speaker, so listening to audio dramas are a challenge for me. Dramas are a great medium for practicing listening with the subtitles and actors to help convey the story. My other challenge is learning to read the simplified Chinese as I was taught Traditional Chinese (by HK teachers) in my extracurricular courses throughout public school.

        • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

          八月长安’s 最好的我们 and 你好,旧时光, along with 桐华’s 那些回不去的时光 are all youth novels, set in school, with relatively simple language. Twentine’s 那个不为人知的故事 is also pretty simple language wise, but the tone is bit more distant and somewhat oppressive. Most modern novels in my experience are pretty easy to read in my experience.

  2. 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

    Wow! Some of the cover designs are so beautiful that it makes me wanna pick up the book and read it!… but I can’t read Chinese =< Lol. I am actually quite the bookworm (more so in my youngers years. There is just too many entertainment choices these days) and I have never read a translated novel before but this list got me curious. Awesome list, Alison!

    • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

      You won’t regret trying them Lin~ There are a few novels that have translations on the list too.

  3. 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

    Thank you for putting together this list! There are some that I haven’t heard of before so I can’t wait to check them out.

    The only one on the list that I’ve read in full is Lang Ya List/Nirvana in Fire, which I also own a physical copy of. It was a great read even if it did take me some time to finish, but it’s considered a classic on my shelf.

    These days, I tend to read what’s going to be adapted into a drama only to find myself abandoning most of them. Even ones that I have somehow managed to finish, they are mostly very forgettable and makes me wonder why production companies even want to film adaptations.

    • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

      I will definitely get back to reading the novel for Nirvana in Fire. It’s just I have attachment issues, so when I really like how it’s presented in one medium, I tend to shy away from other mediums to try not compare. But I heard the Nirvana in Fire novel is really good.

      I tend to try and avoid reading the novels that are about to be turned into dramas, since I feel like that’s setting myself up to be disappointed by the drama.

      • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

        The opposite is also possible! It’s a wonderful experience to see your favourite scenes being played out in a drama in an unexpected and/or faithful interpretation. Did anyone else squeal out loud when Lan Zhan said the exact dialogue from the novel that he wanted to take Wei Ying home to the Cloud Recess and hide him away??? I also feel that because I read the novel and have an understanding of the characters and plot, there is much more of an emotional impact compared to if I only watched the drama.

        • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

          But it’s really disappointing, when there’s a scene you anticipate and then they change it.

      • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

        I agree with you and oolong. Sometimes it can be disappointing to find out they’ve changed as a classic and/or memorable scene from the book. I am generally more forgiving if they keep the dialogue but change some other settings. But sometimes I would rather wait to see what the comments are on book vs drama before I actually start watching.

    • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

      LOL I had similar experience. Although I’m more likely to watch dramas first and then read the book so I’m less critical about it (i’m really leniant towards adaptations in general). I’ve found Put Your Head on My Shoulders (damn this title was hard to recall) 致我们暖暖的小时光’s novel really mediocre, bits I could even called bad, but I loved the drama, so kudos to the author rewriting her own story into a decent script. I also heavily disliked Royal Nirvana 鹤唳华亭’s book due to writing style + not liking the protag + think the theme was presented terribly. (but I get why they bought the IP at least)

      One day I’ll read Nirvana in Fire, I should have did it when I was stuck reading all the fanfics for the drama lol. I started commenting on novels here, then I started rec’ing and realised it got really long so I’ll dump it in another post XD

      • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

        Did you finish 鹤唳华亭? I started reading it but couldn’t even finish the first few pages.

        I did not know the author wrote the script for 致我们暖暖的小时光. The drama was very cute.

        NIF novel was good to begin with but the drama made it even better for me. As you’ll expect, they had to make some changes in the drama but I found them to be reasonable.

  4. 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

    Nirvana in Fire was a good, easy read. After finishing the book, I had a newfound appreciation for the scriptwriting and acting in the adaptation.

    I tried to read Ming Lan before watching the drama. My Chinese isn’t great and the prologue was kind of hard to understand, so I gave up. Now that I know the plot and characters, maybe I should give it another go.

    • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

      I am curious of how the novel for Ming Lan is. But it’s quite a long one with several books to it. I find listening to audiobooks a really good medium, for someone who hears better than they read. It’s a nice alternative you should try if you haven’t already~

      • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

        I’ve read Ming Lan twice and ended up buying the books because the novel is so good. The difficulty is in the customs and when they start talking in round about ways about everything. However, the novel is really really good. It also shows how smart Ming Lan is to survive and is such a good growth novel as you watch her grow from a child to an adult woman of that society.

        My favourite is Chinese historical novels so this one really hit the spot. The beginning seems a bit slow but really amps up when she gets married that’s when the real drama hits and she isn’t a helpless child hiding from everything anymore.

  5. 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

    Interesting… 言情 is romance between a man and woman. Winter Begonia shouldn’t be 言情. Priest’s 过门 (Through the Strait Gates) and 六爻 (Liu Yao) are definitely BL, as categorized on their official web novel publishing outlet. Maybe because various platforms have selectively censored 耽美, and sometimes, its replacement 纯爱, any and all romance get lumped under 言情?

    • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

      I definitely got a little confused when I saw them listed under 言情 as well, especially since Douban has a 耽美 section. I’m not exactly sure how it came to be so, but from checking they are also listed under 耽美. So I suspect it could be as you’ve said.

  6. 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

    I usually dig up people’s rec list on weibo, especially older ones to read the classics. I still haven’t read some like 沧月 (wuxia queen) or 桐华 or 匪我思存 (angst queen) but they’ve been sitting on my list forever. 丁墨 is mentioned a lot for mystery/romance, but she actually also write scifi and other niche-ish genre, but I also haven’t read. Priest I’ve also been sitting on too. Twentine is mentioned here, but I haven’t read everything of hers, 那些不为人知的故事 is pretty well written, and her protag + male lead is fairly unusual, the style is down to earth, but I’m not quite in love with the story. 尾鱼 I’ve actually only read one, 怨气撞灵 which has a super awful adaptation that no one wants to admit exists. The book itself is pretty good, road trip-y so it’s great if you like characters travelling around, a little scary but it wasn’t overly so for me, very intriguing and refreshing. Her novels are afaik the same genre.

    墨宝非宝 is a weird case of she gets rec’ed a lot, and I’ve liked some her novels, she also have some novels that makes me go wait really??? My favourite is probably 很想很想你 even if it’s fairly cliche, 一生一世美人骨 had otp interactions I quite liked and setup I loved (the previous life story is A+), but the background was kept really vague, it sounded like she wanted to go for powerful influential family but it just came off bit fake, also the female lead end up being bit damsel’ed rip. I should read the rest in the series. Her esport series is…okay. I spent half of 神之左手 figuring out the timeline, interesting background information. 密室困游鱼’s matches were decent, and I liked the otp, what I didn’t like was minor supporting female characters doing things that make no sense, and some of the major conflicts heavily rely on them. Go Go Squid’s drama used the esport line from this, and partially fixed it so that’s nice. 蜜汁炖鱿鱼 as a novel is mostly just cute and forgettable with classic setup, the beginning was too cringey for me, because there’s not knowing how to play games then there’s I have no common sense. It didn’t help that protag was 19 doing master degree with double degree bachelors (?), but you never see her doing anything related to it so it’s all just background, so is her being a cover singer, ugh. 至此终年 has an interesting setup, I think the male lead is a little TOO amazing, but I appreciated a novel noting the side effects of SARS. 轻易放火 and 我的曼达林 did not work for me AT ALL, people keep telling me it’s cute and sweet but I found it pretty flat and slice of life (and boring) rip.

    My Huckleberry Friends’s/你好,旧时光 novel is probably one of my favourite modern series, it’s fairly different from the drama, which is more an ensemble cast. The book focus solely on Zhouzhou and follows her from 6 years old to 18 years old, there are a lot of little incidents and descriptions that hit so very close to home, I’ve never felt such profound nostalgia read something. She had a somewhat difficult childhood, struggled a lot and came out stronger. There were a lot of supporting characters (ones that only appeared for few chapters) that left a huge impression on me. The author’s 最好的我们 is a favourite for many, since it describes unrequited love really well, but I don’t like mediocre protag/smart male lead as much. Not mentioned here but 暗恋橘生淮南 is also popular favourite, I really like this protag and some of the writing, but oof the story did not go well with me.

    I LOVED The Rises of Phoenixes’ source novel 凰权, but it’s fairly long and have fair amount of flowery descriptions. The novel is OTP going head to head with each other, never quite trusting each other but hilariously in sync at times. The author tends to write strong female lead, I read her more well known and three novels from her early phase. She’s still writing one of the four books where the four protags know each other iirc, but they are super long and I think she’s headed down the sue-ish road. Legend of Fuyao’s source novel 扶摇皇后 is a lot of fun if you like adventure novels with kickass protag, I think Fuyao is too overpowered and have a wee bit too many people loving her, but overall pretty decent. 帝凰 has the protag reincarnating and trying to figure out who murdered her, so it’s pretty neat, I think I liked it more than Fuyao.

    帝王业’s drama is rumour to air soon, but at 80 episode, I’ll likely pass. The novel is about a well off family marrying protag to male lead who has control over the army, so it’s a political alliance, but they fall in love. It’s decently written and well suited to adaptation, just it wasn’t all that long, at 40 episodes, maybe?? The book is written in first person and I found it really weird to read description of protag’s gorgeous face or figures. It’s one of those ok I see why a lot of people loved it but I didn’t, so decent IMO book. 且试天下 got rec’ed a lot, it’s one of those with larger than life legend kind of stories? So the characters are all really over the top amazing in various ways. It goes from Jianghu to politics, with some battles and scheming and all, the otp romance is fairly light but omg I loved them?? Fully understandable if someone find them mary sue though. I also really liked 欢天喜帝 which was about two rulers who’s been enemies for years, they meet and are incredibly attracted to each other, but they don’t just give up their kingdom or even budge just for love, so they fight and struggle and sometimes they cooperate, hello I really like this kind of relationship.

    More recently, I liked 白鹭成双/白鹭未双’s 春日宴, but her writing have been criticised for childish, I really liked the characterisation and plot though. I’ve two other novels by her and they have some issues but still decent. She’s not on jjwxc, so I think only 春日宴 get thrown around in recs. 许月乘 tend to write historical set in feminist world, so her female characters could be emperors, generals, ministers etc. My favourite is 好姑娘恃宠而娇, the setup of growing up separately but influencing each other is A+, and I love the background of it. 一枝红杏纸上春 was actually the first one I’ve read, her female characters all tend to be really strong and smart despite however they look. I’ve read three others (earlier ones, not ones written recently), not as good IMO, but still decent read, especially if you need a pick me up, since her novels are on the shorter side.

    I really liked 顾了之’s 咬定卿卿不放松, the protag dreamt of her previous life so she tries to prevent her family’s terrible fate. She’s straightforward and adorable, the otp is very sweet and the scheming is decent. I’ve read one other historical, and two other modern novels by her, all decent read. I think 伊人睽睽 gets recc’ed a lot, but her books lean on the longer side. My first novel was actually her earliest 我的侍卫大人, but I really didn’t like the protag or how the otp interacted. I liked the yandere second male lead LOL (even though he’s absolutely terrible). I LOVED 我的锦衣卫大人, but protag have actual mental problems, so might not work for everyone. I really liked her though, she suffered a lot and she tries very hard to keep herself in check and stay alive. She also a really fascinating relationship with her best friend, both pretty emotionally damaged so they’ll lash out at each other but still care about each other? 怎敌她千娇百媚 have two gorgeous and capable people just tango’ing with each other while they get pass their prejudice, the supporting characters are also fascinating, like male lead’s cousin gets dreams of previous life and tries to interfere to get them together but keep messing up, or someone who would have been a rival girl end up being best friend-ish of female lead. She also write modern novels, but apparently they are way less interesting.

    Some modern novel recs, a pretty niche rec, 笑白竹’s 影帝初恋马甲多and 总觉得暗恋对象喜欢我 简体签约 are both very sweet and have a lot of foreshadowing here and there. I also appreciate the author focused on how family can have huge influence on personality and mannerism, but both are fairly uplifting and positive in tone. 嗨,你的锅铲 was incredibly well written with a male lead who has severe social anxiety, and female lead end up accidentally forming a bond with him. The author clearly did a lot of research, and it’s not a love cures all story, and there’s relapses. The female lead also have her own issues, so they struggle and tries to overcome things, it’s a beautifully written story. The author’s other stories were well received too but I haven’t read them.

    I like yandere in novels for some reason so I read fair amount of them. My favourite is probably 女主表示她不服, it’s one of those world hopping stories. The first world is a little confusing but I really liked the writing, the second world is creepy escape the room, the third is fantasy, the fourth is apocalypse, the fifth is modern. I don’t like most of worlds or they have some kind of character setup I don’t like, but holy shit this is well written, I bought ALL OF IT, I’m so in love with the otp. It helps a lot when male lead is out of the line, female lead will call him out on it, and I can accept out of line behaviour due to the setup. I can’t quite go into details about why I love it too much, but the plot threads tie themselves up pretty darn well.

    南书百城’s 那就死在我怀里/你像星空落怀 is reasonably down to earth portrayal of what happens if you fall in love with a yandere irl, this is another story of both of the lead have issues. How they grew up shaped their personality which in turn means they are severely mismatched. There’s fair amount of back and forth but I could see both sides so it wasn’t frustrating. People also go to psychiatrist in this 🙂 can you believe this! I mean they aren’t really effective, but I’m glad they exist, and it acknowledge otp’s relationship is deeply unhealthy. Her books are set in the same world so other novel characters pop up as supporting characters sometimes. I also liked 别老惦记我/靠近你又怎样 and 那就不要离开我, far lighter and sweeter, with otp that’s charming in their own ways, and people get to chase their (really cool) dreams. I found 为我称臣 problematic though, mostly because the otp did not know how to communicate.

    omg why are all my posts so long. I think I covered most of my favourites though, hopefully.

    • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

      I haven’t read anything from 沧月 fully, so can’t comment much on her, but yeah she’s a very well versed and liked author in the wuxia realm. 桐华 is probably the author I have the most mixed opinions about. I don’t know if I hate or love her, imo she’s great at delivering soul shattering angst. And when she does it for her ‘ancient’ novels and weaves it with history, it’s pretty well planned out. But she also has this thing where she’ll never be able to let go of her bittersweet element, which I think doesn’t work well in her modern novels. I think she writes well, it’s just personally I don’t find her style captivating. She’s pretty good at writing characters with a lot of depth though. 匪我思存 is more miss than hit for me. She delivers short angst well, but she has a formula which is basically let’s just make you hate one of the characters so you want a sad ending, which isn’t the type of angst I prefer. I’ve only read the novel for GGS by 墨宝非宝. So can’t comment much about her either, but I am definitely interested in a few other books from her, especially 永安调。

      The characters in 那些不为人知的故事 are definitely not your usual FL and MLs in novels. I agree that they’re quite unique, but I guess that’s why they were striking for me.

      I planned on reading the source novel for Rise of Phoenixes because of the constant claims of the strong FL. But it’s long and that character count kind of scared me away lol. But since you emphasised your love I may make an exception.

      I’m going to check out the drama adaptation of 帝王业, mainly for the cast. I don’t really know what to expect lol, ZZY is like double the age of the FL, so I think there will be definitely be major changes (also if you considered one of the titles from the million they changed it to, it is definitely so). But again I don’t know if I necessary mind, because I wasn’t a huge fan of the novel. I finished it because of the glowing reviews, and it’s one where I get if the characters click for you, you will like it, but they were too cold for me. The FL is undeniably very ‘strong’ and intelligent in this one.

      I agree that the characters in 且试天下 are very OP. The way they’re described, it’s like wow, not really room for flaws, they’re the full package. I remember there was one character like if I can’t beat the FL in intelligence I can be the full package and beat her in the looks department. And I was like if only you knew her other alias. But also it’s one of the ones where their opponents are also pretty OP, so it’s watching OP people battle against each other. There really aren’t many OTP moments, but I loved them so much as well! Every time they were finally able to interact again I was so happy. But also I think it’s technically a harder read, since there’s a lot of description that’s very blended into the story. For me it wasn’t really one I could only pay half my attention to, because I would end up missing stuff and being confused.

      Ahh so many authors and novels I’m interested in from your list. 欢天喜帝 sounds really interesting from your description. Will check out 春日宴 when I need something short, which is like always. I really only read ‘shorter’ novels lol. 怎敌她千娇百媚 sounds interesting too. You’re really good at selling these novels hahah.

      • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

        Thank you for your insights on 桐华 and 匪我思存! That gives me clearer idea of their style. I probably would be frustrated with angst if the narrative tries to make me dislike one of the characters, it’s much more natural when it’s just circumstances, like 那些不为人知的故事. I’m interested in 永安调 too but it looks fairly heavy and depressing so I always feel like I have to mentally prepare myself XD

        tRoP’s protagonist is also ruthless, I mean the novel starts with her murdering someone, it’s certainly something. She’s actually fairly OP too, but since most people around her is reasonably OP, it’s fine in my books. She’s also liked by fair amount of people, but she’s imperfect and her relationship with them are all fairly differently, it worked for me.

        Yeah for 帝王业, the characters didn’t click for me, they weren’t my type and neither was their relationship, it does lean towards realistic-ish though. I’ll probably sit on feedback on the drama before watching. I regret picking up Serenade of Peaceful Joy due to the book, despite its major changes, because omg I really don’t like it, I should have just read the book arghhhh. I guess it can’t possibly the book can’t possibly be worse than the drama 😛 I read Royal Nirvana’s book 鹤唳华亭 just a while ago and was sorely disappointed (and vowed to never touch the drama since I dislike the protagonist quite a lot LOL), it did not work for me at all, so I was wary of starting similar highly praised book with a serious-ish tone and obvious research into history.

        omg I’m glad I found someone who love 且试天下 despite its OPness. Yeah I think I was okay with it because everyone was OP, and I respected each and every one of them. I loved I think all the supporting characters too, and one of the side couple in 番外 was tragic (ex-princess x ex-general?) I really want to see the otp’s time during ten years in Jianghu, it just feels like it’d be lots of fun, I wish we got to see them being playful and cute with each other more arghhh. It’s kind of neat that I could see signs of male lead caring, but I could barely find those signs for female lead till almost the end of the book, but her love runs deep enough for her to sacrifice her life ahhh. There’s a pseudo-sequel set I think 50 years later or something, about other characters and it’s wuxia that might scratch the itch, but I keep putting it off for some reason. Oh yeah on top of overly flowery description, the writing does blend into each other mhmm, I did appreciate that it tend to tag characters with certain colour or feeling or particular words/phrases, so I could track them. Just a heads up, I think tRoP might have similar issues, but I think the writing blends lot less, YMMV though.

        I found I totally did forget some. I think you read 九鹭非香 already, but I’ll mention it anyways. I find the concept of 一时冲动,七世不祥 really fun and I quite liked otp interactions, but it’s also very light and almost seems child’s play, I wish it was bit longer so you see their suffering more LOL, I think my favourite was first world, the angst worked well. 招摇 had a drama that crashed its second half so I passed on it, and just picked up on the book, ahhh villainess female lead and her loyal companion, I like that it started with a tragedy so you saw how much he cared for her, and for everything to slowly dawn on her XD I quite liked 本王在此, the otp’s meeting was very unusual, a badass protag that no one ever treats like a woman and someone who’s used being put on a pedestal and long stopped caring for individual people peronally worked reeeeally well. The rest have been sitting in my backlog. I read one of her model novels 姑娘你威武 but woof, it was way subpar compared to her historical I think? Think I got frustrated because there were lots of back & forth and miscommunication, no thank you.

        紫微流年 gets recc’ed a lot too. 夜行歌 has fairly unusual setup with villainess female lead and male lead who was kidnapped. Latter there’s bit of role reversal and conflict comes from that, which isn’t anyone’s fault but works well as dramatic tension. I was bit iffy on forever young-looking female lead, but there is a proper in story reason for it. 一寸相思 which is going to start filming I think has a thief and well off noble starting with a mission together. I’m little fussy on the details now but I did love the otp quite a bit. It has a prequel + sequel 一枕山河 that I haven’t gotten around to reading but it’s probably fantastic.

        I’m glad my babbling were helpful :DD

        • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

          I would love to read about their 10 years in Jianghu as well for 且试天下. I desperately want more of the couple, because they had such an interesting and playful dynamic with each other that we didn’t really get to see too much of. I think there would be potential for a lot of cute moments, because he’s super flirty and she basically has no boundaries between genders. So it would be like watching a player lose at his own game, since she would not definitely not react in the way one would expect. I want to see more of her perspective on her feelings for him as they grew up. I agree that we really didn’t see her liking him until the later part, but I guess that’s one of the things I really liked about it. It’s nice to see her liking and admiring other people throughout the novel, but when it cames to deeply loving someone it was him. I think it’s understandable she had like walls built around her to fend him off, because he was basically everything she disliked in a person. I also think, she was super careful, because she didn’t want their dynamics to change too much.

          I agree that the tone for 一时冲动,七世不祥 was more childish. I think it would have been nicer to have longer arcs with more angst too, but I also would rarely say no to more angst.

    • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

      I think 桐华’s historical setting novels are much better than her modern romances. I actually used to own two of her modern ones before getting rid of them during a 断舍离 frenzy because they were that bad. Her Bu Bu Jing Xin and Da Mo Yao (I forgot the English title to the adaptation but it stars Liu Shishi, Eddie Peng and Hu Ge) were well fleshed out and were the only two novels of hers that survived my purge. However, her female protagonists tend to be not very likeable for me. It’s the relationships between the protag and the characters that made me keep reading most of the time.

      丁墨 is an author I used to follow and would rush off to read her latest releases. Her 他来了,请闭眼 was one of the earliest audiobooks I listened to. I also read her modern romance and sci-fi books. So far they’ve adapted her mystery thrillers and the modern romance (which I didn’t watch because I couldn’t agree with the casting—Jin Han and ZLY do not fit the images of the characters at all) so I’m wondering if they’ll look into her sci-fi ones. For those they’ll have to make some major changes as some of the stories can be very 重口味, unfortunately. But the universes she created for the sci-fi novels are quite interesting, well, at least to me as someone who doesn’t read that genre even in English.

      墨宝非宝 is mentioned everywhere but I have tried and tried to read her works. They just don’t appeal to me. Not sure what it is about her writing that I don’t like, can never seem to pinpoint it. Then I came across Go Go Squid last year…the drama was so cringey that the Yang Zi fan in me couldn’t even stomach it after about 17-18 episodes. There’s only so much second-hand embarrassment a person can handle. It wasn’t just her character but also the male lead. I’m probably in the minority but I really couldn’t find anything special about Han Shangyan. The only upside for me was probably Wu Bai’s dialogue in the drama. I quite liked him more than his brother and I’m not even a fan of Hu Yitian.

      欢天喜帝 sounds like something I would enjoy. Putting this on my reading list.

      本王在此 is one of my favorite novels and I’m hoping it never gets an adaptation.

      • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

        Did you read MBFB’s 很想很想你 or 一生一世美人骨 skibbies mentioned above? My friend also liked those 2 MBFB novels. I’ve been meaning to try out those 2 novels. Please let me know what you think if you ever read them. I agree with you on Squid. Even the premise is half-cringey.

        I didn’t discover Tong Hua in the right age period. It doesn’t feel like an author I’d want to read at this time. Unlike Hai Yan – NIF. Ding Mo did and still intrigue me. As are Cang Yue and the author for Zhao Yao. I waver on the author for tRoP – cannot decide. I find it difficult to remember all these author & book names.

        I should take note of some of the novel titles here. They sound promising. Thank you guys!

        Not sure which other authors I want to add to list. I like the Huckleberry Friend series, but too lazy to go back to read the novel. lol. It feels like it has been too long since I was in high school. lol.

        After just watching a few eps of Royal Nirvana, I have a strong feeling I wouldn’t like to read the novel. Some things are better watched on TV than reading the book. Joyful Serenade is another step lower in that I don’t think I want to read or watch. Thanks to Skibbies, I don’t have to spend months watching Novoland Eagle Flag or Serenade of PJ just to get frustrated at the end. When the acting is good, it feels like a waste to stop watching, but then the watching process isn’t fun.

        Did you finish reading or watching 3000 crows? Did you like it?

        I have only read 3 Kingdoms in its entirety so far. In both Eng & C. Haven’t read a whole romance novel.

        I still plan to watch the drama first when possible. I can’t take it when they butcher the novel in the drama later.

        Sorry I edit some sentences/paragraphs and at the end it reads badly.

        • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

          一生一世美人骨 was one that I had tried to read but couldn’t get into it. I also tried 轻易放火 but same results. So now I basically skip over all her works.

          I’m not as excited as I used to be whenever Ding Mo has a new release. I think when her books became drama adaptations, her newer works became too commercialized and she seemed to be writing for fans and not because she wanted to tell a story. The charm to her stories wore off as soon as I realized that. I would still read her older works though.

          For Joyful Serenade, I knew I wasn’t going to read the book. I’ve started the drama purely because I like Wang Kai as an actor and because I know the production quality would be high. The story itself doesn’t intrigue me, although it’s nice to see this part of Song dynasty being brought to life. A lot of the Song dramas I can recall are about Bao Qingtian, Yue Fei, Yang family and the Liao. I realize that I know very little about Song court life. But the drama itself is very slow-paced and with over 60 episodes, I am just taking my time with it.

          How long are the 3 Kingdom books? I always feel like I should try one of the classics, but the amount of character names in them scare me.

          I finished watching 3000 Crows but have hit a wall with the book. One of the things about reading on my phone is that I will accidentally close out tabs and not remember to reopen them again. The drama started off strong for me but they have too many fillers towards the end. They could have condensed it to under 30 episodes.

        • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

          Not sure if I clicked on the right Reply button.

          I watched the drama while reading 3 kingdoms. I need to have the visual help to read 3 kingdoms or I would take 3 years. Hard to tell how long the novels were as I downloaded free PDFs at the time. I forget which computer they are on. Next time I go to a bookstore I can take a look. I don’t usually visit the classics section.

          fyi for Song and Serenade PJ. Bao Jingtian’s rebuilt 开封府 in 开封 is still nice to look at. I like their dark green glazed ceramic tiered roofs. I think there’s a 大理寺(?) nearby. It’s been a few years. My memory has faded. The touristy and rebuilt historical buildings are relatively compact in area. All accessible by bus line 1 iirc. Near the end of that bus line, they have a ~1000 year old ceramic pagoda. The city was prone to floods. And not favorably located for wars. It’s not a tier 1 destination but I still like it. 我刚想到宋朝灭了岳飞后很像现在的情况. 白宫也这几年来尽量的灭了科学. 现在的结果也很类似. History does repeat itself, no? 他也有点急了,酒店不能开他也没好收入..

        • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

          All I know about Kaifeng, I learned from Bao Qingtian haha. It’d be great to visit someday. I agree that history repeats itself. 白宫的情况就是忠言逆耳啊,灭了科学可是它还是需要它。

        • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

          Thank you both for your descriptive posts & re: Qu Yuan. I’ve hogged the c-box enough. Now I’m restraining myself from it for the next week at least. lol.

          I’m so happy to read your comments. Great that AVV is so active. Every one is safe and sound.

          I thought cdramas are supposed to be under 50 eps some time this year? A few dramas still have high number of eps?

          这几年不太方便出国旅行了。只能去台湾吧. 连瑞典这几年来都变了很多. 和当年你(cp)去北欧时比起来. 2018年底,三月内有40多件华人抢劫案. 我今年幸好要飞去欧区那天我看了新闻后就取消了。还好没出发. You mentioned liking C gardens before, The BJ Summer Palace is supposed to be the finest C garden example. I like it much better than the Palace Museum. BJSP has more varied buildings and architectural styles. Much more spacious to walk around and it has relatively fewer visitors. And there are lots of glazed ceramic roof tiles, including colors beyond the usual imperial yellow.

          @skibbies Thanks again! And wow.. I never realized the pattern you mentioned. It’s nice to hear that about the female protag palace novels.

          It’s hard to pinpoint how much of the stuff I dread will be in palace novels, and how much of them will be in the dramas. I’m not sure of the drama producers or scriptwriters’ standard rationales in coming up with their standard process of converting ML or FL palace novels into dramas. Male protag palace novels potentially sound quite tedious.

        • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

          @chasingpolaris: Huo Qubing died when he was 23, how would you film 80 episodes omg……???? He’s good for maybe 30 ep. I love epic as much as the next person, but 80 episodes should only be reserved for stuff like Three Kingdoms, a long period of time + multiple important and interesting people. Qin Empire gets a pass from me too, but only as a series, individually it never got that long either. I’ll be okay with Spring & Autumn or Warring States for 80 episodes too.

          I just realised I never replied your Royal Nirvana book question. I did finish the book and really disliked it. The writing was not my style at all, it tend to drop more obscure words, phrases, poems everywhere, I think learning stuff like that is interesting but it drops it too often that it feels like it’s doing it on purpose, it was actively difficult to read. I spent half of the novel wanting to just get over it. The novel also starts with female lead pov, but the story isn’t really about her, it’s about male lead, the story doesn’t feel like it starts till 1/4 way through or something.

          The male lead came off rather stormy and strict to the point of cruel towards people around him initially, then he was suspicious and uncommunicative, all these make sense considering how he grew up, I just really didn’t like how the story presented it, or his actions. I came out disliking the female lead too so lol. I actually rather like the theme and technically the type of person male lead is, the benevolent and kindhearted type who suffered a lot, but I came out thinking damn, male lead really shouldn’t be an Emperor. When I end up disliking the story and most of the characters except a little kid and maybe one of the antagonists, it’s kind of well okay then.

          @an: Mhmm generally speaking, just with web novels, male protag novels are generally ones from qidian, they tend to be fairly long because they have to be free for extended period of time before going into vip. They are far more likely to have some kind of level up system, or just keep meeting bigger and badder antagonist so to speak, they do tend to have very interesting world building though. Dramas tend to have limited amount of them, because adaptations usually screw up in adapting long series, they screw up world building, they screw up casting supporting characters, or they screw up in follow up sequel. The successful ones would be Joy of Life, King’s Avatar (reasonably), Ever Night 1.

          Nirvana in Fire has a male protag, but doesn’t count, because…I think the it’s actually better to call it male/female audience 男频/女频. It’s categorised under female, the novel isn’t overly concerned with world building, but it excels in characterisation and emphasis on relationship. The closest example would be Japanese manga’s shounen/shoujo distinction, shoujo focus on relationship more and usually have female protags but it’s not always clear cut. They tend to adapt xuanhuan novels, which usually have some magic with chinese elements, so you don’t actually see pure palace novels much. There are some history novels, but they aren’t that popular as ip and will be subject to rather stringent standards these days. Then there’s already all the classic palace dramas, most would feature an emperor or a prince, done far better.

          Most dramas you see would be female protag ones, they are shorter (200k ~ 600k) and better for adapting. Other sites that’s not jjwxc will have long novels too, and have different focus, are xiaoxiang has more kickass protag like 天下归元‘s 凰权,扶摇皇后, qidian is more slice of life (I don’t read them so idk how they are) or zhai dou, so big family + inlaws + fighting, all the sites will have absurd amount of CEO novels XD. Most adaptations will be older novels anyways, or they will be from jjwxc. The main audience for dramas are still female, so it’s easier for them to empathise with female pov, so they tend to adapt those novels. (Men seems more likely to game or watch other stuff that’s not cdramas, but I think it’s partially cos everything is romance related, and badly written at that XD)

          That said, sometimes production company will pick up a story and drastically change it, because they want to appeal to wider audience, or they think they can expand on a theme they liked, tRoP, Ming Dynasty, Serenade of Peaceful Joy. They all tend to bomb lmao, because the scriptwriters usually aren’t good enough at balancing what they want to do vs the book (keeping book fans & popularity that come with book) vs history sometimes. Ming Dynasty is probably the best of the bunch, but I think it’s because they drew from history + good acting, the main otp/plot was heavily criticised (I haven’t watched the drama so I can’t personally comment on it).

        • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

          Yes, I’m glad to see everyone is active on AVV.

          I also thought they were putting an episode cap, so not sure if dramas are being pushed back because they have to condense them to fit the new requirements. At least most of the lighter webdramas are sticking to 24 episodes or less, which depending on the quality of the story and acting, might be too long.

          好可惜啊,我都不知道原来瑞典的治安出了问题。本来今年打算年尾要去香港探亲,结果现在哪都去不了。希望明年春天可以去日本赏樱。 I’ve heard about the Summer Palace since young. My dad still talks about the looting back in the day! It’s probably more comfortable walking around there than in the Palace Museum. I want to see the 17 arch bridge for myself.

        • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

          @skibbies

          They might start with HQB being born, then growing up to be a general. Then add filler episodes on the other generals in his time, Emperor Wu, and maybe throw in a romance in there somewhere. There, 80 episodes. Lol. Honestly, though, I’m hoping with the new episode cap, they will edit it to make it shorter. On the other hand, I’m worried about loopholes and quality if they’re forced to edit.

          You are good at preserving through difficult novels. I dropped it after a few pages. It might be because I read in trad Chinese (I was taught this growing up so even if I can read in simplified, it’s more comforting to see trad) so it was very daunting and austere to see all those difficult passages on a page. Did you try the drama? It was captivating at first with the twists and turns but it gradually wore me out. There was also too much crying from the male lead and I didn’t think watching someone cry every episode is entertaining so that’s one of the many reasons why I dropped it. Do you mind spoiling why you don’t think he should be Emperor?

        • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

          I only got reminded again within the last couple of days, 屈原和荆州的关系. That’s what I’d like to read next. I looked quickly into historical attractions in Hubei and missed this last Dec. Just last week, I was reminded how Guan Yu losing 荆州 was a big deal in 3 kingdoms. 荆州 still has an old town wall that’s quite intact with some bricks being 600 yrs old. The local museum seems to be very interesting and rich collection of historical bamboo slips, Chu jade pieces plus some ceramics. This is one of the many reasons I haven’t gotten around to reading C novels discussed here. I spend so much time just to figure out what to cook & eat at home every week. Others are a lot more efficient than I am at time management. ; )

          How do you guys go about reviewing Warring States period history? I have problems figuring out where to start. lol. Which kingdom is the biggest in area/population and existed for the longest? Is this something you know readily on top of your head? Just curious. (我都忘了我去洛阳时是看了谁的墓. 周平王? 没待久。)

          Yes, Skibbies has enormous amount of capacity of perseverance. I notice that too. Both of you are very familiar with a huge number of c novels and the borders of the genre divisions. I read macroeconomic & scientific data almost daily. After reading stuff related to travel, arts, dramas, it’s hard to find enough time left to read other stuff. Today’s Microsoft’s picture of the waterfall near the C & V border near 老木棉度假酒店 looks very pretty. Almost like the Cloud Recesses from Untamed.

          @chasingpolaris: The advantage of the Palace Museum over the BJSP is that the former is much flatter. There is a pretty section (North East) of tPM that looks pretty from afar. But they don’t seem to open that part to the public.

          I hope you can make it to J next year. The xenophobic issue may be a headache for R&R. Not easy for certain group to venture outdoor even this year.

          @skibbies: Thanks for your detailed description of palace novels. I may just have to take a leap and guess blindly which ones will likely have lower number of annoying palace villains. Thanks also for your comment on MBFB. Yes, actually I probably wouldn’t like that MBFB’s works, given my low tolerance of 傻白甜. I end up with more novels falling into that category than most. lol. Do you like or dislike Gu Man? I don’t intend to read her stuff. Not a fan of the 杉杉来吃 and other GM dramas.

          Re: not end up liking some of the highly popular novels.
          I agree, the taste of the general public can be very different from your personal taste. Sometimes it can be a benefit. I risk sounding like a pompous know-it-all. But I get cautious when the news says Consumer Confidence hits a 12 year high. A lot of people get caught in herding, flocking behavior. If you are not careful, you can end up getting trampled. You don’t want to be a “hero” and buy a stock that everyone hates, for example. But at the same time, when 98% of people are doing X, you should question the wisdom of doing X. Does it make sense to do X? In the financial world, a crowded trade has its downside.
          “Not everything with tons of fans is good” is sometimes similar. One needs to balance emotion and logic. Too much of one isn’t good.
          For that reason, I don’t think I can read Weibo. I may turn crazy fanatical and end up with way too many crazy opinions. 😛

      • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

        I’m hesitant about her protagonists since how much I like a novel tend to hinge on that, I suppose it’s possible for them to grow on me though. I only watched bits of BBJX and then stopped because at the time I wasn’t in the mood for angst, and I was in a phase where I hated love polygon. Da Mo Yao I passed on cos all these history fans hating on it LOL. I feel I should try the novels at some point just so I know if it’s my thing.

        I would love if they adapt some of Ding Mo’s scifi novels, but cdrama isn’t quite at that stage yet. I think scifi rely too much on good CG and props, and it’s a fairly unexplored genre, so people aren’t as likely to take the risk. The only scifi-y drama I can think of is Die Now, which only adapted the beginning when it was still in play weird mystery-ish/escape the room/battle royale games, with sprinkles of scifi concepts. It never got a sequel and I suspect it’s partially due to budget reasons. Thanks for the vote of confidence though on her writing!

        omg ahahha on MBFB. I think she’s better as a scriptwriter than a writer, maybe? I liked Han Shangyan as a supporting character and when he’s with his friends, not so much as a romantic interest, he’s very classic stoic guy. I think the positive thing of that book was he was really go getter and straightforward.

        本王在此 sold the rights for drama adaptation though rip. but I haven’t heard of any rumours of casting or anything. actually omg this author sold so many drama adaptation rights! but plenty of them of dramas get stuck in production hell so maybe your wish will come true.

        • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

          Sorry, iridescent. I digress.

          The main issues that retained my Tong Hua inertia were (1) not the biggest fan of Qing era. There are often Zhen Huan, Ruyi, Yanxi. Qing materials are readily available most years. Despite some unique chars in these FLs, I’d still prefer to venture into another dynasty. (2) Afraid of getting bothered by the female harem theme coming across too strongly. I didn’t like that about Ever Night’s ML either.
          Not a fan of authors with a strong-ish “entitlement” slant in the leads either. This may be more applicable in the (现代) 甜宠 genre.

          Skibbies, I don’t know how you’ll like it, but Fei Wo Si Cun’s brand of angst tend to go into the dysfunctional category. It is very distinct in that sense. I would approach that with caution. I browsed a bit of the Han Dong Jun, Sun Yi one. People said the prose was so beautiful. I wasn’t into it. I gave up after browsing a few middle chapters. I suspect a lot of corporate women types will somewhat hate reading this stuff. Just my personal guess.

          Just to clarify. The Royal Nirvana drama also has problems. Starting quite early. The storytelling style is choppy and can get unclear. Other technical points are fine. The actors are generally well-directed. I’m near ep 30 and I’m considering giving up. It’s a bit of a high point since the evil Chancellor has been sentenced to death. The emperor & crown prince’s relationship does leave me wonder maybe the emperor doesn’t like his eldest son (the eldest prince) as much as the court seems to think.

          My worry about reading palace-based novels is the ratio of protag vs antagonists. The nice thing about Young Blood, Sleuths of Ming Dynasty is they have a high number of likable regular characters. Palace dramas tend to have a lot of “dead weights”. I find it bothersome to read/watch the evil palace chars are doing evil things to others… yet again…. I get bothered by the evil princes in tRoP. Many palace evil chars do very similarly evil things for too long.
          Worse yet when the antagonists seem stupid but are in-laws to the goody two shoes emperor. Like NIF2. So it takes forever for them to disappear from the story. I think this is one reason why wuxia characters wondering jianghu are nicer to read than palace or 大宅 or 大家庭 setting.
          You don’t get stuck with the same evil princes, minister, niang niang concubine, stepmom. Any good palace-based novels with fewer evil residents? lol

          I’m going to have to spend time to copy down and search for some of these titles.

          Thank you!

        • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

          Hahaha I can see why history buffs were hating on Da Mo Yao. From what I recall, the drama also had to change Huo Qubing’s name before the broadcast. Now we’ll just have to wait for Zhang Ruoyun’s Huo Qubing to air. I’m surprised that they haven’t pushed it out for broadcast after his boost of popularity from Joy of Life.

          Someday, if C-TV can get “The Wandering Earth” quality into drama productions, that would be a great time for Ding Mo’s sci-fi novels. I would really love to see how they would recreate the world from 他与月光为邻. That one has a strong female lead. If you ever get a chance to start her novels, let me know your thoughts on them.

          I just looked at MBFB’s screenwriter credits and I don’t think I’ve watched any of those dramas except for a portion of GGS lol.

          I had no idea the rights to 本王在此 were sold! Well I guess it’s inevitable but hoping that there won’t be an actual adaptation haha.

        • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

          @chasingpolaris: oh yeah they got mad enough that they reported the drama I think? ZRY’s Huo Qubing got lot of hate from some cursory image and interviews too, rip.

          I was similar to you with Serenade, there’s almost no Song emperor dramas, so I was excited, and this is from Daylight + kkw + well known novel. Oof, I could write an essay complaining about the drama. Hope it’s working out better for you.

          For Three Kingdoms, RoTK’s classical version is 400k characters iirc? So double of regular length modern web novels. In modern Chinese, it’d be longer, then probably even longer for English. I wanted to read the book, but I saw classical chinese and I noped the hell out rip.

          @an: For MBFB, neither of the series I liked are must read tbh. I like really really missing you because I like the concept of romance from dubbing circle, nice voice + get to know each other first and then meet irl + merging online persona and irl persona. It’s sort of extension to me liking mmo stories, so I think it varies people to people.

          My Huckleberry Friends’s novel is different enough, and have enough small details that I think it’s worth reading, but I’m extremely bias since I loved both the drama and novel to give them 9.5/10 lol.

          On Tonghua, that’s fair enough for not liking Qing, I know plenty of people that don’t like those dramas. I don’t think I’ve read any in the period mhm. I don’t care for harem either unless it’s one of those where people don’t care about the emperor at all XD

          On FWSC, I actually quite like dystunfctional relationship, but it’d have to be fairly well written, so we’ll see. I like yandere in novels after all, and a number of novels I recc’ed have dysfunctional relationships, but it’ll usually only work if both people have problems, and they either try overcome together or it ends terribly. I don’t really care for stockholm syndrome or one side always giving.

          Re: Royal Nirvana, The author also wrote the script for the drama iirc, so I’m unsurprised. I’ve heard people criticising it for plot twists for the sake of “gotcha moment”, which put some people off. I think you watched the better parts of the drama, I’ve seen people drop it after Crown Prince’s teacher dies. I think after 30 ep is when some of the book content pops up, in far more details though probably.

          ahahah oh yeah tRoP is just slew of fighting against princes, it comes with the type of story they tell? The novel isn’t quite like that, since protagonist is the female lead, who’s far more concerned of protecting her own life, and then she slowly gets dragged into palace kerfuffle, but she’s still wary of male lead and is more concerned of getting out unscath.

          Generally, palace novels are usually bit different, most the ones I’ve read (and mentioned here) are female protag ones, and they tend to feature romance. I just straight up avoid 宫斗 and 宅斗, which avoids most of the catty women fighting or inlaws. With a female lead, even if she’s involved in power struggle, it’s different dynamics and trajectory in my experience. Like I’ve read ones where protag crossdressing as a prince x powerful chancellor, and conflict would be power struggle between the otp, discovering her real gender, and working together against your antagonists. It still could be one evil antagonist after another, but I think those tend to be in longer novels, which would be male protag novels.

          Although tbh for the novels I read, politics are usually non-existent, but it’s fine i don’t come to novels for serious history lesson lol. I guess it depends what you want to read, I read novels for fluff half the time lol (and then end up reading a lot of mediocre or straight up terrible and forgettable novels people keep reccing, why oh why)

        • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

          ZRY’s Huo Qubing is probably more historically accurate than DMY lol. But it’s long, like 80 episodes? I’m not sure I can sit through all of that, but I’m interested in watching it.

          Serenade is on hiatus for me. I think I stopped at around ep 12. Half the time I can’t even tell who’s who as there are too many officials.

          Good to know about Three Kingdoms. Might be better for me to stick to reading a summary of it.

        • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

          @skibbies,
          There are some differences among the palace dramas. I favor those with more expansionary topics and visions because they are often heavier on strategies and relatively less infighting. That’s one of the things that makes Huo Qubing interesting too.

          The scope and topics of Qin sound interesting. But the length & drama style are intimidating.

          I end up reading a lot of data and fact-based heavy articles. Too many headlines and popular topics, general populism movement, popular opinions are misleading and repetitive. A lot of loud judgments quoted everywhere, inciting a lot of public hatred and yet not necessarily bringing anyone closer to the truth. Nothing near a solution is offered. A million people could be upset when they read A, but sometimes actually if you look at the facts behind B, B is actually 10 times more shocking than A. But B isn’t posted as headlines in magazines or mentioned on TV a hundred times.

          I looked at the table on worldmeters info site. Plus 1 graph on howmuch net site on “Total Wealth by Country in 2019”. What’s interesting to me is just 8 countries, about ~9% of world population has the majority (>50%) of world wealth. ~$184 Trillion for ~700 million residents. 5 EU countries; UK, Spain, Germany, Italy, France; and 3 additional Anglosphere countries. US, Canada, Australia. These are the countries who have strong complaints on immigrants, voice a lot of wealth inequality. They have the strongest voice in the world. A lot of the early wealth included hefty income from colonialism, early slave trades.
          It makes sense why people are studying Race and Power.

          A lot of people make very huge issues of individual random celebrity but hardly anyone notice how the top 1% of US residents are worth $25 trillion the last time they measured this a few years ago. That’s the recent value they associate with the worth of the entire country of Japan.

          Yet the general public and some media outlets like to blame some emerging country, or immigrants for 95% of domestic economic problems. The domestic business, country leaders are never at fault. Half the immigrants are blamed for bringing down the economy. The other half are blamed for taking the good jobs away. The sum of both groups doesn’t amount to anything near a $1 trillion. A small fraction of what the top 1% has. The real corrupt ones in power are not jailed because the Dept of Justice was unable to prosecute them successfully. The dept doesn’t want to get a low success rate, so they just go after the anchovies instead of going for the biggies. I’m referring to the special report on Marketplace site on why not a single Wall Street CEO got jailed during the last crisis. But there are countless examples.

          Many of these are not the things you can read in headlines. The few that appear just once or twice, do not get any attention. A lot of headlines are just very capitalistic. Just write about what people want to read.

      • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

        @chasingpolaris: yeah I hope they are force to cut down episodes too, loopholes can’t be helped. The episode limitation thing have been talked about since 2018, but I still see no sign of it, plenty of modern dramas are 40 ep+, idk what’s up with that.

        I tend to persevere through highly praise content just so I’m sure I really don’t like it. (I force myself through classics for similar reason XD) I heard about the plot twists and crying, so yeah I passed on it, then there weren’t overwhelming positive review, they also had to cut one of the climaxes so rip. As for male lead, mhmmm he’s the benelovent kind, so I think he’ll be fine if his dad trust him and he doesn’t encounter major challenges, but that’s not very possible IMO. I largely don’t like him, because throughout the novel, you see so many people die for him, because he’s the crown prince, but he disregard the chance to rebel (once was just a chance thing so it’s understandable he gave up, the second time his dad force him to, either rebel or die), and everyone who helped him dies for nothing.

        It’s entirely fair he held his people’s lives over soilders that fought for his cousin/uncle, and in every other cases, I always thought the majority outwins minority, but that was the opposite here. I think the novel tries to mention that he’s fairly capable (he seems to manage court affairs fine), but he’s not cold hearted enough or able to make hard decisions? The novel emphasis that his dad focus way too much on balance of power rather than actually setting up path for his successor, Emperor’s entirely unlikable and very suspicious, it’s hard to say whether he’s a good emperor, if he’s not, would taking over the emperor be better for the people? Crown Prince himself and everyone around him is very focus on Confucianism (?), I like Confucianism as much as the next person but it’s not without flaws, he just came across as someone who might be better off as a minister, if that make sense.

        @an on: Warring State I’m actually okay with because it’s just 7 states/kingdoms, Qin overwhelm the rest from middle onwards. I have difficulty with Spring & Autumn, and I only some of the more well known kings, not so much others, and that’s after watching 东周列国春秋. Qin Empire as a series cover Warring States reasonably well I think, it’s from Qin POV, but the second & third installment goes into other states a bit too. I guess documentaries would help? iirc, there are fair amount of them, I remember a more story-focused one from last year or the year before.

        I notice you read a lot related to econ & science stuff, hahaha I guess I spend lot more time on fictional content rather than non-fiction might be why? I like consuming diff ver of same thing to compare how adaptations do, partially so I can rec stories to people that might prefer dramas/anime/movies etc, when I myself might read novels/manga/play games.

        You could always just drop stuff if you can’t get into it, most of them are hardly must read literature level. ahh yeah even her not so 傻白甜 female lead aren’t too impressive IMO. Gu Man, I’ve read three? She has very limited library. I disliked 何以笙箫默 because I really hate miscommunication, I really don’t like otp that doesn’t know how to talk to each other without using force or making a huge mess, the dogblooded family entanglement didn’t help. The character setup was 高冷学霸x阳光普通女孩 very cliche and not more type either, if the girl was also 学霸, I might like it more? XD It’s not really Gu Man’s fault, the novel was written in like 2002, it was popular setup at the time. The writing is average, I did like that it opened with protag coming back, and it slowly reveals what happened in the past as she gets tangled up with male lead again, and the climax is Real Reason that misunderstanding happened. I had fairly high expectation and was fairly disappointed. Passed on the drama because Wallace Chung’s dubbing put me off, also the drama is way too long + it starts with the love triangle misunderstanding, WONDERFUL.

        I liked 微微一笑很倾城, largely due to the setup, but it’s lot more dialogue based than I expected (I watched the drama first), the writing is fairly average (I had high expectations though I guess), the characterisation is fairly sue-ish. As far as mmo novel goes, it’s not all that great, but it was written early, so you could say the concept was fresh, although I should note there were popular mmo novels before it, and ofc male protag mmo novels could be really fantastic (focused on game itself and camaraderie) even back then. 你是我的荣耀’s review is a little more mixed, I think partially because her readers grew up so they aren’t reading through rose tint lenses anymore. I personally thought it was okay but not great read, the game is more like jump off point, the otp’s career choice are also sort of background-y, but her sweetness are still pretty down to earth. On second read through, I think her characterisation is pretty good? Her female lead is an actress, she has flaws but is fairly adorable, male lead is pretty ideal but isn’t quite perfect, and there’s bits and pieces that show maturity, in discussion about relationship & future, nothing astounding but I was fairly surprised. Passed on Shan Shan Come Eat, because CEO x cute normal girl is the most cliche of cliche that I don’t care for (where are my CEO x CEO novels???)

        I read weibo largely for like social news, x company responded to certain event badly, sexual assault cases that’s not getting due attention etc, also to gauge public opinion on things. It’s kind of neat to see, sometimes it can be enraging though, since it can be very one sided and people can be very harsh. Ent circle wise, I don’t take most weibo that seriously, since a lot of popular stars will have fans upvoting all their favourable comments, so mhmmmmmm, reading news is okay though I guess?

    • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

      Ooh I loved 墨宝非宝’s 很想很想你! I even own the novel just for the fun of it haha, I do prefer reading physical novels than online books tho. Totally agree with you on how it is cliche but a good read, glad to find that someone else enjoyed it as well~

  7. 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

    As a novelupdates fan, I have a few angst novels to rec!

    “Our Second Master” Link: https://www.novelupdates.com/series/our-second-master/.

    A very short novel about a wasteful son and how his life turns around due to a very hardworking servant. Happy ending, but takes a lot of bitter turns to get there.

    “The Unfulfilled Desire” Link: https://www.novelupdates.com/series/the-unfulfilled-desire/.

    Another short story about an assassin’s desire to right his wrongs. A happy ending as well, after many angsty trials to get there.

    “Ballad of Ten Thousand Gu” Link: https://www.novelupdates.com/series/ballad-of-ten-thousand-gu/.

    I’m a fan of short novels as you can tell lol, but this one really managed to trigger me despite the fact it’s so short. It didn’t even give you much intro, but you’re sucked into the story and feel every. single. emotion. that pummels the main lead. Very satisfying. Not a happy ending.

    “Sansheng, Wangchuan Wu Shang” Link: https://www.novelupdates.com/series/sansheng-wangchuan-wu-shang/.

    Truly the novel that sucked me into this neverending novel phase. Extremely hilarious, endearing, sweet and angsty at the end. Happy ending.

    “7 Unfortunate Lifetimes Thanks to a Single Moment of Impulse” Link: https://www.novelupdates.com/series/seven-unfortunate-lifetimes-all-thanks-to-a-single-moment-of-impulse/

    The same author as above. I love this author’s work. Very amazing storyline and wonderful angsty story about two heavenly beings who became tangled with each other and ended up stuck together throughout 7 lifetimes of reincarnation as punishment. Hilarious, fleshed out characterizations, wonderful angsty novel.

    Let me know if you guys want other recs!

    • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

      I’m always open for angst recommendations~
      I’ve read most of the ones you’ve posted, just not the first 2. But for me personally the ones I’ve read are more ‘borderline’ angst. Which is nice if you’re new, or aren’t a big fan of having your heart broken.

  8. 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

    Omg yesssss! You hit some of my fav authors too! I love 长洱 (btw I think it’s actually Chang’er not Zhang’er — it’s one of those characters with multiple pronunciations), albeit I know and love 长洱 because of her BL novel 犯罪心理. Also love love Priest of course. Read 有翡 for the drama (I’d read Priest before but again, mostly for her BL) and I loved it. Also love 墨宝非宝 (MoBaoFeiBao) bc her 言情 and 古言 are the best ever, among all the BG I end up reading. I’ve loved so many of her other novels, and the one listed is def also on my to-read list.

    • 44 thoughts on “Douban’s Top Rated Chinese Romance Novels and their Adaptations

      I backgrounded 有翡 audio drama season 1 and thought it contained too many familiar wuxia tropes which reduced my interest in the novel and its derivatives. ZLY’s sarcastic weibo post about the drama adaptation reduced my interest even more.

      犯罪心理 has been on my digital book shelf for over a year. Maybe it’s the years of Sherlock Holmes, PBS Mystery series, Criminal Minds, Bones… Chinese web novels of such genres simply can’t elicit my interest much. I did read 默读 and 化成十四年 for the audio dramas. They are ok with 默读 being somewhat better at logic, suspense and psychology.

      BL novels such 迪奥先生 and 我嗑了我对家X我的cp are a hoot without being crass. I recently gravitate toward more of this type.

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