So what did I end up reading on the plane? I looked at multiple books, organized them into their folders and - then I read some Andrew Lang fairy tales. Because that was the best choice for something I knew I was going to fall asleep to.
Thanks to Dear Author I had to snag a sale ebook tonight - and it's one I've already read so I can definitely recommend if you're interested in this area of history.
I had to buy this because it's a book I've referred to more than once, it had me adding more books to my list to look up (and TBR), and I'm getting it in ebook form so I don't have to wonder where my paper copy is. Kindle version is currently 1.99 - at the US Amazon store however.
I'd call this serious history even though the tone is light here and there - lots of detail, footnotes, and historical figures you won't find info about easily except in this book. (And of course I forget names. I'm working on a 7 year old laptop with a bad trackpad so googling is not something I'll do much of atm.)
Now we'll see if I can figure out how to take photos on my phone tomorrow and still post them here. I'm sure if I manage that there will be lots of me grumbling in the accompanying text about how annoying this graphics change hooha is.