Mini Reviews: Pairing Books with Movies (or TV) 5

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Monster of Florence
by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi

Yay for excellent nonfiction! When an American author moves to Italy with his family, he has no idea what he’s in for. He quickly discovers the story of the Monster of Florence, a serial killer who murdered 14 people over the course of two decades and was never caught. He and the Italian journalist Mario Spezi research the case and find themselves caught up in the midst of it.

The first half of the book gives the history of the murders and brings the reader up-to-date with the ongoing police case. The second half gives Preston and Spezi’s personal experience with the police and the complicated Italian judicial system. It’s real life, so some people might not be satisfied with the ending. Unfortunate, things are always resolved like we would like them to be.

I’ve heard it compared to The Devil in the White City and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I don’t know what it is about that style of book that I enjoy so much, but I love them. I’m not a fan of true crime books, but these fall in a different category, they are creative nonfiction, written like a novel almost, but using only the facts. I would say this one is closer to Devil than Midnight, but all three are wonderfully written and read like fiction.

Pair with a viewing of Hannibal. The movie is partially filmed in Florence and the author of Hannibal is said to have partially based the character on the Monster of Florence. While writing that novel Thomas Harris attended some of the Monster trials. Fair warning, it's really creepy.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
And Other Concerns
by Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling is pretty hilarious. Though my love of The Office has waned in recent years, I still love that style of humor and this book provides more of the same. Kaling talks about everything from her childhood friends to her favorite moments in comedy. She mentions a brief stink as a writer on SNL, her fluctuating weight, her parents, etc. She manages to make all of these things both funny and relatable.

I love that she starts out by referencing Tiny Fey’s book. Since everyone else will obviously be comparing them, she preemptively notes that Fey’s book is awesome and you should read it.

I’m not a big fan of Kaling’s character, Kelly, on The Office, but I also realize that isn’t really her, as Kaling herself points out many times. There are a few similarities, but Kaling is much smarter and funnier than her television counterpart. So if you think you might like this one, read it for a quick laugh and because you’ve already read Bossypants.

Pair with a viewing of a few Office episodes written or co-written by Kaling: The Dundies (Season 2), Niagara (Season 6), and The Sting (Season 7)

Image of Mindy from here.


Kat @ NoPageLeftBehind said...

I'm really wanting to read the Mindy Kaling book - it sounds hilarious! Do you think it would make a good audiobook choice?

Sandy Nawrot said...

I loved Monster of Florence...this is exactly why the right true crime just doesn't get any better for your reading pleasure. It wouldn't be half as good if it was made up! Remind me never to go to Italy too BTW.

As far as Mindy's book, we love The Office but she is just a side attraction for me so unless it is phenomenal (I've heard its not) I will pass.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Kat - Yes! I read it as an audiobook and it was really fun that way. I really need to start mentioning which books are audio reads for me.

Sandy - It's not anything to get excited about, but it's fun on audio.

annieb said...

I know most people seem to have a problem with nonfiction, but it is my favorite genre. Douglas Preston writes a series with Lincoln Child that are classified as thrillers--above average in my opinion, but very violent. Douglas' brother, Richard, only writes narrative nonfiction, such as The Hot Zone (ebola virus); Demon In the Freezer (smallpox) and The Wild Trees (my favorite about the redwoods).

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

annieb - I really enjoy nonfiction too. I think it gets a bad rap as being "boring," but there are boring books in every genre. If it's well-written and about a topic that's interesting I tend to love it. Preston mentioned his thriller books in this one, but I haven't had a chance to check them out yet.

Jenners said...

I think I actually have a copy of Monsters of Florence somwhere! I must dig it out. And I listened to Kaling's book … it was OK but felt very very very light.

Anonymous said...

I've had both of these books on my to read list for awhile. Mindy Kaling wrote my all time favorite episode of The Office, "The Injury." I die laughing every. sigle. time. My love has also waned for it in recent years, but when Catherine Tate joined the cast I managed to catch a few episodes on Donna's behalf. :) It's just not the same without Steve Carell.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

Can you believe that yours is the first post I remember seeing on Monsters in Florence? I won the book back in 2008 (or 2009) and it's been sitting on my shelf since then. I'm glad you loved it so much and agree about Midnight and Devil.

Have Mindy Kaling's book on my audiobook queue. Looking forward to it!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jenners - It did feel light. I liked her list of her favorite comedy moments.

Care - I've been watching it because of Tate as well (love Donna so much), but it's just not really funny any more.

Trish - I hadn't heard of Monster before reading it, so it was nice to go into it with no expectations.

Kristi said...

I really loved Midnight so I might try Monsters of Florence. I haven't read Devil in the White City. I'll have to add that one to my list too. There's definitely an added level of interest for me in reading that type of book because of the fact that it's true.

The Office has kind of crapped out recently. It's just not as funny anymore. Kelly is funny, but in small doses. It's mostly her one-liners that get me. No fault of Mindy Kaling's, though. The character is just kind of annoying. I do want to read her book though. Maybe I'll give the audio version a try. I'd imagine it would be a better experience than reading it if it's really light fare.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Kristi - I think Isaac's Storm is better than Devil in the White City (same author), but both are good. Midnight is definitely my favorite of the bunch.

I agree about The Office. I've never found Kelly very funny, but some of the other characters are wonderful. I wish they'd ended the show when Carrell left. I was expecting something really light from Mindy's book and that's what it was, so I enjoyed it.