Here are two history books I’m reading as I go along. I'll read the history up to next piece of literature I'm planning to read, then read the fiction work, then go back to these books and pick up where I left off.
The first is A Traveller’s History of England by Christopher Daniell. It’s great because it’s, as is obvious by the title, a history book specifically geared toward the traveler. It provides just enough information about a broad range of topics. It gives a good overview that lets you know if you’re interested in going elsewhere for more information. It will definately help us decide which sides we have to see because of historical import and which aren't essential.
The other book is A Brief History of British Kings and Queens by Mike Ashley. This one focuses, obviously, on the royal families of Britain. While it is brief as the title says, it still provides meaty information about each ruler. The author is a bit biased though and definitely favors some monarchs over others and clearly favors the English over the Scots. It’s a great concise history though and provides excellent background information that is extremely helpful for diving into more specific works. I’m constantly picking it back up and referring back to various rulers as I’m reading my fiction works.