I have been reading into Paul Johnsons Creators: from Chaucer and Durer to Picasso and Disney this weekend. I like it. It is well written (no surprise), which makes some deeper thinking seem lighter than it really is, and I learn something from each page. Look at the chapters on Shakespeare (Falstaff and Hamlet), Jane Austen, Mark Twain, and also Bach; look not to agree, but to see into some of the great ones with Johnsons eyes. Example:
"Indeed, if there is one area in which Shakespeare lacks moderation. it is the world of words. Here he is, in turn, excitable, theoretical, intoxicated, impractical, almost impossible. He lived in a period drunk with words, and he was the most copious and persistent toper of all."