I just finished Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy (OUP, 1999) by Simon Blackburn. It's more of a topical treatment and does seem rather more "compelling" than the standard historical survey. Hopefully, by the end of the book the reader can confront the first question of philosophy -- Why bother? -- with some type of response. Several, probably, as the book flows smoothly through the major areas of philosophy in eight crisp chapters, covering knowledge, mind, free will, the self, God, reasoning, the world (objects), and what to do (ethics).
Chapter 2, Mind, was a highlight, posing typically bizarre philosophical questions. Of course we know of our mind, seemingly by simple introspection, by experiencing the world through our own eyes. But how do we know of other minds? We can't jump in another's shoes and experience them from the inside, we only know of other minds by observation. We see bodies, observe actions, hear words, sense emotions, and infer minds. Well of course we do, seems natural, doesn't it? In fact, natural is a particularly appropriate term, as we seem preprogrammed by nature to attribute mind or personality to animals, objects, and even natural forces. We name pets, cars, even hurricanes. People see faces in the clouds, a man on the moon, the Virgin Mary in almost anything.
Philosophers pose as hypotheticals Zombies (who go through the same motions as minded humans do when viewed externally, but have no inner life, they are not conscious) and Mutants (like Zombies but who do have an inner life, yet their consciousness is composed of different images, so when pinched they hear music but say "Ouch!"). Silly, but enlightening in the sense that we can't easily rule out such cases a priori, nor can we easily test them empirically. We don't have a good consciousness meter to hook up to bodies and display consciousness on a screen.
There's reflection on language here, too. We tend to think in terms of language. Do those who learn different languages then think differently? Or the same with different words? Could a person learn their own private language and think in it? That turns out to be similar to the Mutant hypo, someone who moves through the external world like others but has an entirely different subjective mental experience. Blackburn quotes Wittgenstein's argument against private language, insisting only public language is workable, but the details of it are rather obscure to me (p. 74). But I have a sense of why it matters, which is probably as good as I'll ever get with Wittgenstein.
The balance of the book is as intriguing as Ch. 2. The section on quantificational logic (p. 200-205) was the first comprehensible account of it that I have come across. Some, but not all, philosophers write clearly. Blackburn is surely a member of that subset.