Having read Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, and Foucault's Pendulum (seriously), I was trying to decide whether to tackle another one of his books. If you want to understand why he's important, I suggest this lovely long read by Lila Azam Zanganeh in The Paris Review (2008).
Favorite quote by Umberto Eco:
An idea you have might not be original—Aristotle will always have thought of it before you. But by creating a novel out of that idea you can make it original. Men love women. It’s not an original idea. But if you somehow write a terrific novel about it, then by a literary sleight of hand it becomes absolutely original. I simply believe that at the end of the day a story is always richer—it is an idea reshaped into an event, informed by a character, and sparked by crafted language. So naturally, when an idea is transformed into a living organism, it turns into something completely different and, likely, far more expressive.