Last week I mentioned that truth is always more interesting / stranger / more entertaining (insert your chosen adjective here) than fiction. Well three books about the Renaissance I recently enjoyed and highly recommend you read are "Magnifico, The Brilliant Life and Violent Times of Lorenzo De'Medici" by Miles Unger, "The House of Medici, Its Rise and Fall" by Christopher Hibbert, and "The Italian Renaissance" by J.H. Plumb.
The first two in particular tell the true story of those filthy rich, smug, yet fun-loving family of bankers from Renaissance era Florence who just loved themselves so much that half of Italy (including the Pope at the time) set up, and carried out, a plot to kill their sons in the Florence cathedral during high mass on Easter Sunday in 1478. Told ya' truth is better than fiction!
The third one, "The Italian Renaissance" is a good overview of the times and key figures of that era. These books are more than about paintings of course. They give a good understanding of the backdrop that some of the greatest paintings of all times were done in, and WHO they were done for in particular.
Books are great... I always say.