Somebody recommended A History of the Modern World over on Ask Metafilter and I leapt over to the San Francisco library's website and requested it.
It's 936 pages. Not counting the (excellent-looking) appendices and bibliography.
I don't know what I was thinking.
Well, I do: I was imagining sitting down at the table evenings, leisurely reading the chapters, taking notes, making timelines, consulting maps. (I picked up the 2-volume Anchor Atlas of World History at a used bookstore a few years ago; I love looking things up in there.) I was imagining gaining a better understanding of what things have happened and why. I was forgetting that I have tons of work and little time for books ... except light reading just before bed.
Still. I'm happy to have it sitting here by my desk, in case I can set aside 20 minutes here or there to skim through the bits about the opening of the Atlantic, Paris, Vienna, and Frankfurt in the 1800s, thoughts on the Contemporary Age. Surely there'll be an hour or two I can spare sometime in the next few weeks.