Read A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich. As concise and prettily written a world history you could ask for. A great resource if it's been a while since you've been to school and you want to get the sequence of events and the major historical players straight in your head. It was originally written for children when Gombrich was a freshly graduated Art History major in Germany in the '30s. Things got a bit Hitler-y soon after, and, being Jewish, he got out and went to England, where he became a citizen. Gombrich worked on this revised English translation in the last years of his life, and it was published just a decade ago. The last chapter, where he describes the parts of history he lived through after completing that first edition, is particularly powerful.
Now reading Flashman at the Charge, by George MacDonald Fraser, where we find the cowardly, loathsome fraud flail his way though another (impeccably researched) 18th century event. The Charge of the Light Brigade, in this case.