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If You're Reading This, I'm Already Dead
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If You're Reading This, I'm Already Dead

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  333 ratings  ·  56 reviews
'I want people to know how Otto Witte, acrobat of Hamburg, became the crowned king of Albania.' Otto Witte is an old man. The Allies are raining bombs on his city and, having narrowly escaped death, he has come home to his little caravan to drink what remains of his coffee (dust) and wait for the inevitable. Convinced that he will not see the sunrise, he decides to write t ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published April 26th 2012 by Quercus (first published January 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.53  · 
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 ·  333 ratings  ·  56 reviews

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Apr 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
On the face of it, this appears to be a really silly tale involving a circus troupe with a camel in tow, who travel to Albania, where Otto the acrobat will claim to be their King.

That said however, it was in turn, both funny and sad and in fact some of the dialogue was quite hilarious. I found the last few chapters in particular quite breathless in their pace, and found the book hard to put down at that point. This is unlike anything that I have read before, but all the more enjoyable for that.
Lari Don
Jun 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
This is a very silly book. In the best possible way. It doesn’t take itself or its subject seriously at all, and given that it’s set during a WWII bombing raid, and tells the story of the run up to WWI, managing to be daft without also being flippant and off-putting is a neat trick. In fact the whole book is about a neat trick. It’s the story (the apparently true story) of a German circus acrobat who successfully, if briefly, passed himself off as the King of Albania. It’s got blind professors, ...more
Aristodemos Ioannou
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Well, I've read this book in Greek, which is my native language. I remember the first few pages I've read, I just couldn't stop myself from laughing! Its a nice read, and the plot seems to flow pretty well, at least at first. At one time, I just skipped a few pages without reading them, becasue Mr. Nicoll was just saying too much. "Get on with the story, you write some good stuff over here". But he couldn't hear me, and that is why I kept on reading. And then, the last quarter of the story, just ...more
Jun 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: circus
This is a ridiculous book and a lot of fun to read. Through the manuscript we are told two stories, that of the old Otto Witte writing in the middle of an air raid and that of his younger self off on a ridiculous adventure. The structure plays to my love of story-telling and what a story!

"A story that needs a drum roll and trumpets. It needs girls with feathers in their hair and spangled tights. It needs coloured lights and velvet curtains."

The double narrative lends itself to both comedy and so
Dec 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved every minute of this book. It was gorgeously preposterous while managing to include some very astute observations on life. I enjoyed the writing and I loved Otto's character and voice.

Given how crazy the story was, it was a surprise to discover Otto was a real person, who claimed he had been crowned King of Albania. I'd love to know whether the story in the book bore any resemblance to the story told by the real Otto.

I read one review which was indignant at the way Albania was portraye
Danielle Lin
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
It pulled me in. It pulled me in like clickbait and boy I loved it, although it took me two and a half weeks to finish.

The writing: left me breathless, wanting more, and fully understanding everything even though its sentences were structured like this one and probably as long, if not longer.

The story: Holy heck that is a story. That is one, good story. I loved the double storylines and the haste evident in Otto's words to get the story over with, while at the same time indulging over mundane de
Rebecca Baker
Nov 30, 2017 rated it liked it
This is one of those books you read when you don't want to think and just want to enjoy the ride. It's not going to blow your mind, and is a little predictable in some places, but it definitely has heart. It didn't bore me; in fact, I genuinely didn't know whether Otto was going to live or die at the end. It's funny, suspenseful, heartfelt, and utterly ridiculous. Worth a read if you like those kinds of books.
Apr 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: war, fairytale, 2020
If you don't like mucho-exaggerating, hilarious, formula-bending unreliable narrators who can actually tell a good story, then this isn't the book for you.

But if you DO like to read mucho-exaggerating, hilarious, formula-bending unreliable narrators who can actually tell a good story, you might want to give this a whirl!

The story could have been slimmed down by the editor, but an okay enough read.
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Like Roald Dahl for grown-ups. Quirky and lots of fun.
Peter Trebilcock
May 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very easy to read and funny book.
Jan 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
One thing that should be appreciated from this book is how Andrew Nicoll wrote a truthful experience in real life then he hooked it up with jokes so the sentences appear neat.
Julie Hudson
Nov 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
I was attracted by the cover - a farcical story about a circus acrobat who fraudulently became King of albania. It reminded me of the 100 year old man who jumped out of the window. Not great.
Matthew Double
Nov 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Love this book, it was, well just silly fun. Adventures and lovers and lives bigger than ours. I love it and will reread it one day when i just want to feel great.
Bernadette Robinson
This was a recent read of ours at my local Library Reading Group. Personally I gave this 2 stars or 4/10 sadly the rest of the reading group didn't rate it the same and gave it less with some giving up on it as it wasn't for them.

I found this an easy light hearted read and could almost see it being turned into a slapstick style comedy on the silver screen and when I mentioned this at the reading group, one of the members said it was quite a good interpretation of it.

Otto and his motley band had
Nov 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just before World War One breaks out, a German circus acrobat and his friends decide they can pass him off as the incoming King of Albania. Hijinks ensue.

Oh, and it is all told through a narrative dictated during a bombing raid on Hamburg, 30 years later.

This book is in turns hilariously silly (the narrative) and then soberingly sad (the framing device). The change in tone between Old Otto and Young Otto is done very well, and you can hear the same character come through, changed only by decade
Mar 25, 2016 rated it did not like it
This book was the worst book i have ever read. It was based in untruths and fiction and it just lowers the nation of Albania. This book could be described as racist because it underestimates an entire nation an entire country and culture. This book is not funny at all is derogatory to the Albanians and it would be good for someone to learn first about a nation's history and culture before writing a book about it and using historical faces and national heroes. It is a shame that this book is publ ...more
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
I loved the tone and voice of this book. Yes it is a crazy story with strange characters which seem very 'made up' but that just makes the story even more enjoyable. Otto has a wonderful story to tell, one minute you are marvelling at his audacity and chutzpah then next you are feeling a little sentimental and mushy when he speaks of his love for a friend. If You're Reading This... isn't a fantasy but the tale is wild and quite unbelievable. Just enjoy it!
Martyn Perry
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-book
Thoroughly enjoyable but knowingly over the top. This is an extremely well written book in a very personable and easy to read style.

Having Otto's story told in the first person really helps to engage the reader, keeping you turning the pages and ensuring you become very familiar and supportive of the main characters.

Each character is well developed and its a fun little group to go on an adventure with for 400 pages which quickly get turned. Expect fun not realism and you'll like it.
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Have you watch a movie where the main cast is talking directly to you, see eye to eye, by walking you through the whole story till the end? Well this book's is written exactly like that. The main protagonist is talking to you throughout the book, telling his story, which at some points feels like a Sinbad or Aladdin adventure. It's and easy-fun reading, but it has an abrupt ending, which is very disappointing. 2 stars
Christos Avgerinos
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was certainly a pleasure to read. I enjoyed nearly every page. Yes, the descriptions are sometimes a bit too abundant in detail but this is not so bad. After all, its period in history spans in an era and a place that is hardly ever noticed. Go for it if you don't search for a life-changing book but for a well-written and enjoyable one!
Jul 13, 2015 added it
I was really looking forward to reading this book but was very disappointed. There are funny parts but not laugh out loud. It's like the author has copied 100 year old man who climbed out of a window and disappeared but totally not got the black humour. The ending was ridiculous too. Definitely would not re commend.
Feb 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book.... and it is even more amusing if you have the ability to read it to yourself in a soft German accent. There! You're gonna have to try it now!
An absurd story, believable in it's quirkiness, something very different with some real life thrown in for good measure. Fabulous!
Andy Witting
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was a speculative punt off the library shelves but it turned out to be a very good punt. Thoroughly engaging off the wall story, with a pacy story line and enough quirkiness to keep it interesting. Both the character composition and the situation are very well conceived and developed.
Jul 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Funny, sad, absurd, macho, alternate-history thriller with random literary and actual figures tossed in... Rather condescending about the Albanians but much more enjoyable than The Fall of the Stone City. Hope someone makes a tasteful film of this though of course they'd have to change the name.
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thrillers, fantasy
Best. Book I've read all year it's got sex thrills the circus a camel and an acrobat who becomes king of Albania very funny sad and well written loved it
George Stremplis
Jul 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
There is something really moving about this book! I can't put quite my finger on it! It sets the greatest mood! Between Germany of WWII and Europe in mid 1800s and the atmosphere is simply thrilling!
Abu Yillah
Jul 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Enjoyable but narration drags on a bit.
Barbara Scott-Emmett
Jul 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. Loved it. Great fun and informative.
Sep 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of the most entertaining books I have ever read. The structure was clever, enabling him to portray the sad side of war, alternating within amazing boys=own style rollicking adventure.
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Born in Dundee, Andrew Nicoll has lived all his life within the same few streets by the sea. Once a forester, now a journalist, Nicoll has covered the Scottish Parliament for 'The Sun' for the past ten years. A poet and short story writer before he turned novelist, Nicoll has published numerous stories and poems over the years. His first novel, 'The Good Mayor,' was written during eighteen months ...more

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