The English language is a wonderful thing. For a whistle stop tour through it's 1500 year (or thereabouts) history, sit back and enjoy The History of English in 10 Minutes produced by Britain's Open University:
2. The Norman Conquest
4. The King James Bible
5. The English of Science
6. English and Empire
7. The Age of the Dictionary
8. American English
9. Internet English
10. Global English
The Adventure of English: The Biography of a Language
by Melvyn Bragg
A landmark history of the English language detailing how and where it began 1,500 years ago and how it evolved to become the tongue of some two billion people worldwide.
The Meaning of Everything : The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary
by Simon Winchester
A scintillating account of the creation of the greatest monument ever erected to a living language.
Letter Perfect: The Marvelous History of Our Alphabet From A to Z
by David Sacks
A fun, lively, and learned excursion into the alphabet, and into cultural history.