Here are some I can recommend, and I had a couple of these in my history classes so they might seem to be a bit more than you like but they are not bad reads even for non-history types. They are not difficult to get into even if you are not a historian, although modern Chinese history especially in the warlord era is complex so it does take a little bit of time to understand the complexities.
- Lucien Bianco, Origins of the Chinese Revolution 1915-1949
- John King Fairbank, The Great Chinese Revolution 1800-1985
- Grasso, Corrin, Kort; Modernization and Revolution in China from the Opium Wars to World Power
- John Gittings, The Changing Face of China from Mao to Market
- Hanes, Sanello; The Opium Wars, Addiction of One Empire and Corruption of Another
These should get you started, I'd recommend the Grasso, Corrin and Kort book only for its brief synopsis bits of many of the changes in China from the end of the Qing to modernization but I also had classes with Professor Corrin a few years ago so I am slightly biased there. The Changing Face of China might be more to your liking if you want to know about the modern attitudes and changes in China since 1949 and has some good detail on each stage of development and might be the style you want to read.
They are not really history books but Red Azalea by Anchee Min and The Good Earth by Pearl S Buck are views on China that are more fictional, although Anchee Min's story is more about her life in China through the Cultural Revolution. Pearl S Buck is more about China at the end of the Qing and is considered a very good capture of Chinese culture from an outsider for the time.