These are some suggestions for texts which we found accessible and useful when beginning in Classical Studies. Any trip to Waterstones would provide you with more, but these are choices we personally recommend.
For biography with an emphasis on pace and narrative - rather than disappearing into academic rabbit-warrens - Anthony Everitt's Cicero (and his other biographies) reads as well as any thriller.
David Potter's Emperors of Rome is splendidly speedy without sacrificing too much by way of pertinent detail.
Mary Beard's Pompeii is both straightforward and academically rigorous. It's become the key text on the town in our view.
Joann Fletcher wrote a marvellously engaging biography of Cleopatra which manages to provide immersive context - you come away really feeling Egypt.
For Ancient Greece you could do a lot worse than Thomas R Martin's history. Very detailed for a layman's history, but you come away very much educated by the content.
We really like Simon Baker's whistlestop sprint - to mix metaphors - of Ancient Rome.
George *loves* From the Gracchi to Nero, which gives a rich explanation of the collapse of the Roman republic.
There are so many we could add here, but only so much space. What are your favoourites? Let us know on Twitter!