Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose is one of my favorite novels, and movies, of all time. It is dense, so it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but I think it is flat-out awesome. The writing is excellent, despite having been written in Italian before translation. The heart of the story is a murder mystery, but there is such depth and detail to the historical goings on that it can be educational in medieval monastic life. Doubt me? I took a course in medieval history in college that focused on monasticism in the period and what happened? We were assigned to read The Name of the Rose, which I had already read… Which gave me more free time to drink beer instead of studying. Perhaps that didn’t work out so great, but the book is stellar if you are in for a historical mystery of the highest grade.