Prose & Pixels

Prose & Pixels #7: If You Enjoyed Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood…

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Prose & Pixels is a feature that combines two of my loves: books and video games. Here I’ll discuss all sorts of things to do with the two, whether it’s recommendations, influences or just a good old chat.

Whoa, whoa, it’s one of these posts again! Yes, it’s been a while. But I feel it’s been that way with most of my features to be honest… Anyway, I recently FINALLY finished Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (the best so far, in my opinion), and thought it would be fun to share some book recommendations based on the game. Each book cover links to the Goodreads page.

If you want to read about… the Borgias.

The Borgias: A Hidden History by G.J. Meyer The Borgias by Christopher Hibbert Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant Lucrezia Borgia The Borgia Bride The Prince

If you want to read about… assassins.

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas Way of Shadows Graceling (Graceling #1) by Kristin Cashore Grave Mercy Fool's Assassin Assassin's Apprentice

If you want to read about… the Renaissance.

The Birth of Venus The Agony and the Ecstasy The Decameron The Divine Comedy Leonardo's Swans The Medici

And of course, the Assassin’s Creed books set in Italy.

AC Renaissance AC Brotherhood

Have you played Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood? What did you think? Do you have any recommendations to add?

Thoughts

Thoughts #12: Neglected Non-Fiction

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There is one thing I’ve noticed a definite lack of in the blogosphere.

Non-fiction.

Personally, I love many genres of non-fiction: autobiographies, memories, history and archaeology books, books on nature, science, linguistics… But it feels that many bloggers don’t have a particular interest, or at least don’t share it. So why is it not a common feature amongst the blogs?

  • It can be quite difficult to review (apparently I’ve reviewed only six non-fiction books since starting the blog), which means that whilst my fellow bloggers may enjoy non-fiction, it’s difficult to feature on the blog.
  • How do you review something that is fact? You can’t criticise so many of the different areas you would look at for a work of fiction. It seriously reduces the amount you can really say about the book.
  • Some people read to escape to other worlds, so non-fiction just doesn’t work for them.
  • I know that when I was at university, I avoided reading any history or archaeology books that were NOT relevant to my course, because I had so much to take in anyway, and didn’t want to end up remembering stuff about Henry VIII when my course was in ancient history! So perhaps, for that same reason, many fellow bloggers who are still studying prefer to avoid non-fiction.

I thought perhaps I’d share some of my favourite non-fiction books, in various categories, and hopefully you can share yours with me!

History & archaeology

Pompeii by Mary Beard The Borgias by Christopher Hibbert Love and Louis XIV by Antonia Fraser

This is perhaps, along with travel, one of my more read areas of non-fiction – as my degree was in ancient history and archaeology. I’ll read about almost any period of history up until the twentieth century. Mary Beard is one of my favourite classicists so anything by her is good. I also have a particular interest in the Borgia family (so much scheming!), and Louis XIV after studying him for History A Level when I was 18. I think books like this can often have a reputation for being stuffy, written by scholars who know everything about these ancient worlds and nothing about the present day one. And whilst that may be the case with some books of this type, there are so many wonderfully written and accessible history books. You could start with books that accompany a TV series of the same subject, as they’re often written for people who are learning along with the show.

Travel

A Ride in the Neon Sun by Josie Dew The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson Hitching Rides with Buddha by Will Ferguson

If you’ve not yet read anything by either Bill Bryson or Josie Dew, then step on it! The two write very witty travel accounts – Bryson travelling alone by car (normally), and Dew alone by bicycle. They both capture the spirit of the countries they visit, and somehow poke fun at various elements of culture without being offensive in any way. Words cannot describe how excited I was last year when I realised there was a Bill Bryson book I hadn’t read yet – and so I got to experience that first read through joy!

Biography & memoir

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson 35488 How To Be A Woman

When it comes to biographies and memoirs, to me they either have to be witty and perhaps a bit self-deprecating, or of truly fascinating lives. Some memoirs I’ve read just don’t have either – even after the ‘big break through’. Or perhaps it was just how they were written. Once again, Bill Bryson makes the list with his autobiography, as does Caitlin Moran with her hilarious anecdotes of her younger self. And I recently read Johnny Cash’s autobiography and absolutely LOVED it. He is one of my very favourite musicians and had such an interesting life – plus the way it was told was just wonderful. He rambles from tale to tale, nothing is in chronological order – but it works. It’s as if you were sat there, having drinks with him and listening to him talk about his life.

What about you – do you enjoy reading non-fiction? What are your favourite genres of non-fiction? If you don’t enjoy it, tell me why! Why do you think it’s not often featured on book blogs?

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #5: The Borgias

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The TV series this week is: The Borgias.

The Borgias

Conspiring with his ruthless sons Cesare and Juan and poisonously seductive daughter Lucrezia, the charismatic Rodrigo Borgia will let nothing and no one stand in the way of his relentless quest for wealth and power. Mercilessly cruel and defiantly decadent, intimidation and murder are his weapons of choice in his scandalous ascension to the papacy in Renaissance-era Italy.

To me, the Borgia family is endlessly fascinating. Although there are so many rumours about them – it is often said that Cesare and Lucrezia had an incestuous relationship, that Lucrezia was skilled with poisons, etc – in reality none of this is actually known for sure. It could be that one of the most infamous families in Italian history were nothing like they seem. Despite this, it’s fascinating to read about them and try and put the pieces together, plus Renaissance history is a beautiful period to study.

Are you looking for fiction?

Madonna of the Seven Hills by Jean Plaidy Light of Lucrezia by Jean Plaidy
Poison by Sara Poole The Family by Mario Puzo

Jean Plaidy has written a two-book series on Lucrezia Borgia, daughter of Rodrigo Borgia/Pope Alexander VI. The volumes are entitled Madonna of the Seven Hills and Light of Lucrezia – if you’re a fan of historical fiction then you’ve probably heard of Jean Plaidy before. I’ve read some of her books, and she writes brilliantly. Or perhaps if you’re after some more recent fiction (Plaidy’s series was first published in 1958), you could try out Sara Poole’s Poisoner Mysteries. It is about a young woman who becomes the official ‘poisoner’ of Pope Alexander VI, and also the lover of Cesare Borgia. Obviously this one is a much more fictionalised account! And then finally, the author of The Godfather has also written a novel about the Borgias – The Family by Mario Puzo. If it’s anything like The Godfather, then he will have captured the poisonous and scheming image of them perfectly.

Or perhaps non-fiction?

The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli The Borgias by Christopher Hibbert The Borgias: A Hidden History by G.J. Meyer

Machiavelli’s The Prince is like an instruction manual on how to run a country or kingdom, and was in fact inspired in part by Cesare Borgia. Niccolo Machiavelli actually makes an appearance in the TV series. Christopher Hibbert’s The Borgias is a wonderful historical account for those who are interested in reading about the family, but don’t want to go into too much detail or read about lots of background information – unlike G.J. Meyer’s The Borgias: A Hidden History, which has an incredibly thorough history of the family, even pre-Alexander VI. I would definitely advise reading this one in chunks, not the whole thing at once as I attempted to do…

Are you a fan of The Borgias? Do you have any other recommendations to add to the list?