In praise of picture books
No, I don't mean the pictures, I mean the text. Picture books are one of the best ways to learn basic information about a topic. First, by viewing the photos you are more likely to remember some aspects of the material. It works for kids and maybe it works for you too. Second, the text is stripped down to essentials. Third, the authors of picture books are often relatively "agenda-less," since most people don't read the text, the selling point is the pictures, and the book is so expensive that the publisher doesn't want to rule out the broadest possible audience.
I would not use picture books to resolve disputes over details or to find the best conceptual framework. The text in picture books has some of the same strengths and weaknesses of Wikipedia pages. It's odd to see a similar blandness in both the lowest cost and highest cost corners of the publishing world.
Lately I have been "reading" Ottoman Architecture, by Dogan Kuban, Toyokuni (oddly I can't find it on Amazon or remember the author's name), Textiles: Collection of the Museum of International Folk Art, by Bobbie Sumberg, and Architectura, by Miles Lewis. You can walk into any public library and take home more splendid picture books than you will have time for. How many you can carry is another constraint.