I also remember loving John Brewer's "The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the 18th Century" and Mario Biagioli's "Galileo Courtier." Also "Mad Blood Stirring" by Edward Muir, which tackles the question of why 16th century Italian street life was so incredibly violent.
Edit: seems apropos to mention that a couple friends of mine are about to launch a site for historians to curate lists of their favorite books on key topics, called Backlist: http://backlist.cc
I've noticed that fantasy novels often include maps of the fictional geography of the world, and fantasy authors sometimes write introductions basically on the theme "I've always loved maps and thought they were special". Personally, I've never really looked at those omnipresent maps, because they never matter in the story.
On the other hand, maps are incredibly useful when reading history. Or they would be... but history books almost never include them!