I haven't spent it yet, mind you, but I think I will.
The pending purchase in question is the oversize book from DK Publishing titled Art: Over 2,500 Works from Cave to Contemporary.* It's gorgeous.** For a girl who wishes she'd taken an art history course, it's an art history course all by itself, with representative artists from numerous countries over the course of human history. Each page includes five to fifteen major artworks, along with timelines, short artist bios, and short facts about each work of art.
It's wonderful, and the slick pages are beautifully printed. This is certainly a case where looking at a book is just hands-down better than looking at the Internet (faster, too), and if you know anyone with young kids, I'd suggest this book, just so they can leave it laying around and their kids can learn about art from an early age.
I'll admit I spent most of my time in the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries, primarily in Europe, but there's also sections on art from other parts of the world, and the latter pages on modern art (although it's not my favorite) were also very informative. Even if you don't want to buy it, I would check it out.
*Do follow the link to Powell's--there's a video there you can watch and see inside the book.
**Take care when you carry it home. It's heavy!