I'm currently reading a very good book about Asian history called "East Asia at the Center," by Warren Cohen. It covers the highlights of Asian history from 1000 BC until the late 90s. It gives a good perspective on the region that China is a major part of, which will help you understand some of the events it has been involved in.
Then I would get a general history of China, like Keay's China: A History.
From there, it really depends on what period catches your interest. I'm really interested in the modern period (after 1840), so I know titles like The Boxer Rebellion by Preston or the Hungry Ghosts by Becker. Jonathan Spence worked a lot on the Ming and Qing eras, and while I haven't read them, he's considered one of the best Chinese historians of recent memory.
China itself has presented so many faces to the world, and has such a rich and complex history and culture that digging into the literature about it is mostly about picking a place to start. Go to a library, start borrowing book that interest you. Read the bibliographies, find the titles in there that interest you. Repeat.