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You Should Have Left

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  4,224 ratings  ·  753 reviews
From the internationally best-selling author of Measuring the World and F, an eerie and supernatural tale of a writer's emotional collapse

"It is fitting that I'm beginning a new notebook up here. New surroundings and new ideas, a new beginning. Fresh air."

These are the opening lines of the journal kept by the narrator of Daniel Kehlmann's spellbinding new novel: the record
Kindle Edition, 128 pages
Published June 13th 2017 by Pantheon (first published October 21st 2016)
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Andrew Watson It reminded me more of House of Leaves. But House of Leaves has footnotes longer than whole sections of this book...

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Average rating 3.52  · 
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 ·  4,224 ratings  ·  753 reviews

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Maggie Stiefvater
Jan 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, recommended
An amuse bouche fever dream. This "novel" is 114 pages, so really it is just a handsomely bound short story, but I forgive it. It's a smartly-written atmospheric piece, just the right size for a spare hour on a busy weekend.

Rumor has it that it has been made into one of those moving picture things. I haven't seen it, but I can see why it would be fun.
Alok Mishra
Jun 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
It was natural that the book was set to gain more and more popularity with the release of the movie based on this book and having the same title. Bacon's acting was convincing but the movie could still not make the impact that this book is able to make once you read it. I will always rate the book by Daniel higher compared to what I will do with the movie. The book lets you feel the events and confusions more likely than you may do with the visual content. Though the text is very much 2d and the ...more
Feb 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, horror, 2010s, german
"In a movie it's funny when a life falls apart, because the people say clever things while it's happening, but in reality it's only dismal and repugnant."

This is the story of a man's emotional collapse. It's told like a haunted house story. It could easily be one, or maybe it's something else entirely. It's off... and that's the point. You come for the ghosts, you stay because you're stuck in a metaphysics trap.

A screenwriter rents a house in the mountains intending to write a sequel to his most
In the form of a diary, You Should Have Left is a screenwriter's account of a family holiday that's also supposed to function as a creative retreat. Having achieved commercial success by (selling out and) writing a lightweight comedy-drama called Besties, he's under pressure to come up with a sequel. His daughter Esther has just turned four, prompting our narrator to hope he will finally be able to have a little peace and quiet, as well as some conversations with his wife Susanna that aren't abo ...more
Adam Dalva
Oct 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved this unsettling little novella, a writer's journal during a REALLY bad week - it has all the elements of good horror, but also quite a bit of humor (The lead is trying to write a movie called Besties 2), and eventually, a bizarre fractal sequence that reminded me of Mason's LOST BOOKS OF THE ODYSSEY. Teaching it to my undergrad class - excited! ...more
mark monday
Spaces outside of and inside of spaces. Old spaces overlaid onto new spaces overlaid onto old spaces. Spaces to trap you. What's larger on the inside than it is on the outside? An ancient tower, a mansion of ill repute... an evil Tardis!

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I love the angle Kehlmann took with this novella.

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Wonderfully creepy. Carefully written. The meta worked: not tired like most meta insertions, but fresh: the screenplay within the story an intrinsic part of the story. Carefully characterized. Moments of en
Sep 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a dark creepy little f**ked up twisty tale. I was definitely unsettled and unnerved by it and often chilled too. I didn't always get it though. Definitely one for the darker colder nights if you want an odd scary tale. Maybe a library book though as it's so short £10 seems a tad steep - if I'm allowed to say that. ...more
Umut Rados
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Creepy little novella that's just perfect for October spooky reads. I really enjoyed the atmospheric writing that put me at the edge of my seat. I listened to it on Audible, so it was even more scary!
Recommended if you're looking for a chilling, short read.
Alice Lippart
Well, I guess I'm not sleeping tonight then. Yikes. ...more
Diane S ☔
2.5 Wanted to pick up at least something for October that was billed as horror. This one is act a novella, a one sitting read. A man rents a house in Germany, wanting only to finish his screenplay. He brings along his wife and four year old daughter. Soon things start happening, at first he thinks it is his perception but soon realizes there is something wrong with the house. Pictures appearing, disappearing, doors not there one minute, than appearing, and other strange occurrences.

This was an
Jul 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A screenwriter rents a house, surrounded by woods and overlooked by two glaciers. Having had a success with one movie, with the rather dubious title, “Besties,” he is under pressure to complete the follow up. He feels his university educated wife, Susanna, sneers at his light hearted comedies, but it pays the bills and these have increased since the couple had a daughter – four year old Esther. Susanna feels that her husband is absent and disinterested. He tends to be frustrated by the demands o ...more
Janie C.
Feb 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
A complex story about a house in which skewed and unexplainable things happen. Are there a myriad of explanations, or are all of the answers part of the narrator's psychological makeup? Disturbing and fascinating, this is a quick and unsettling read for the questioning mind. ...more
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
A delightfully sinister novella that essentially puts a bunch of tried and true horror tropes into a blender but still rewards the reader with its almost unbearably tense atmosphere. Though the creepy house in the woods setting does most of the legwork - I'm afraid this won't be winning any awards for creativity any time soon - it was a fantastically entertaining way to spend an hour. The translation is excellent; really poised writing that convincingly unravels with the main character's mental ...more
Interesting little novella that has a House of Leaves vibe going on, I just wish it had a little more meat on its bones. Still, nice creepy atmosphere and set-up, that will leave you feeling claustrophobic and paranoid. ...more
Dec 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this for Horror Aficionados World Terror challenge for 2020. Yeah. I am so behind LOL. I have to say though that this novella was really good. The main reason why I gave it 5 stars is that the story drags in a few places. I just thought this was a really interesting story and reminded me a lot of House of Leaves and now I want to re-read that book.

"You Should Have Left" follows a man and his family who are on vacation while he is attempting to write a sequel to a movie that was moderately
Ova - Excuse My Reading
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
God Almighty, this was a creepy read. I have seen other people saying it didn't freak them out, but it worked for me.

Certainly reminding me of John Carpenter's movies, this is a story of a family of three going to vacation in a house in mountains. Story is told from father's perspective, who is a screen writer and his mind is always busy with work. He realises tiny, weird things in the house. Then the rest of the story comes through pretty quickly.

A short and haunting read. Perfect for October!
"Something strange just happened."

This is a simple story of a screenwriter who takes his family to a vacation home in the Alps to work on his writing, and to spend time with his wife and daughter. Things start being a little "off" in the house, and he hears mutterings in town of the house's mysterious owner.

Reminiscent of Stephen King's The Shining, this is a clever and eerie short book - just over 100 pages. As a reader, we're not quite clear on what's actually happening - the nature of their r
Nancy Oakes
Everywhere I turn when reading about this book I find comparisons to Stephen King's The Shining. In one sense, I get it, because it is about a man who has taken his family off to a remote location so he can work on a screenplay, and weird stuff starts happening around him. In another sense, in my most humble of casual-reader opinions, to liken it to The Shining sort of cheapens this book in a big way. It also makes for a number of readers having dashed or unfulfilled expectations -- after all, ...more
M. Sarki
Dec 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

One of the most difficult books to illustrate the reason for my giving it four stars. From the first day until my last I never had a handle on where even the minimal characters or myself ever were. Each day's entry into the journal developed the mystery further and resulted in an ending unexpected but somehow understood. Kehlmann has provided a short work in which to ponder and one day want to read again.
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
A potent little spinetingler, this takes little more than an hour to read, and that hour will mostly consist of atmosphere building and a growing sense of dread. It's not a gruesome, jump scares or monsters kind of horror, but more a modern Twilight Zone kind of vibe.

Eerie and chilly (as opposed to chilling), and a little too familiar maybe, like 'I've read this before, or seen it in a movie' (or maybe it was an episode of the Twilight Zone) but it's also possible that was intentional? Anyway,
4.5/5. Guess I won‘t be sleeping tonight... If you're looking for a thoroughly creepy novella to read in one sitting on a dark October/November/December night, this is the one! (And yep, it has been translated into English.) ...more
lark benobi
This story reminded me of the stories published in the 1957 Modern Library anthology Famous Science-Fiction Stories: Adventures in Time and Space. The short stories published in this mid-century anthology are all on the long side for current short-story expectations, and this story would have fit right in. You Should Have Left isn't really even a novella. It's a longish and linear and old-fashioned short story, complete with an old-fashioned ramping up to a climax that isn't very climactic. I en ...more
Jul 15, 2020 rated it did not like it
Oh hey, it’s the world’s least scary Scary Book.
Jan 10, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: yikes
YIKES! Good grief, this scared me silly. Smart and short and terrifying and (view spoiler) Kehlmann did not at all go on the direction I thought he would and I thank him for it! ...more
And you thought your recent Airbnb experience was a nightmare? This is a horror novella about a writing retreat gone bad. The narrator is a screenplay writer who’s overdue delivering the sequel to Besties. As he argues with his partner, tries to take care of his daughter and produces fragments of the screenplay, the haunted house in the mountains starts to close in on him. I’ve loved Kehlmann’s work before (especially F), but he couldn’t convince me of the narrator’s state of mind or the peril o ...more
Jul 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, horror
Spooky but short...

Our narrator is a screenwriter who had a big success with his last film – a light buddy movie. Now he's under pressure to come up with a script for a follow-up and he's struggling. So he takes his wife and young daughter to an isolated house in the mountains of Germany where he hopes he'll be able to write. But the house seems to have been built on some kind of nexus that distorts space and reality, and people have disappeared from it before...

This is a pretty standard scary s
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
The moment I saw this cover and read the premise I knew I had to pick it up. The premise sounded awesome, but combined with such a stark and unsettling cover, this one looked right up my alley.

You Should Have Left is told in a journal style by an unnamed narrator who is vacationing in the mountains of Germany with his wife and 4-year-old daughter. This getaway isn't strictly for relaxation though, as the narrator is on a deadline for his next screenplay. The screenplay is interspersed in the no
Well, oops. I sat down intending to read a couple of pages of this, but before I know it the afternoon has disappeared and I've finished the whole book. And I'm meant to be cutting down on my reading... But this was so compelling, and there was no way I could put it down once I'd started. At barely 100 pages long, this is a short-but-sweet, creepy tale told in the format of an artist's journal. That is a failed, bored screenwriter, made famous by his first screenplay, which sounds like a light c ...more
Apr 07, 2018 rated it did not like it
"Spellbinding?" "Compelling?" "Brilliant?" What book did these reviewers read? I got nothing out of it. I'm glad it was short, thus I only wasted a little of my time. A better title would have been "You Should Have Left... this Book on the Shelf." ...more
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
Aug 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, audiobooks
4.0 Stars
This was such a well plotted horror novella. The main character was so incredibly unlikeable with his pretentious inner monologue. Yet, his musings about the challenges of married life after having children were rather on point. Blending together elements of psychological horror in a seemingly simple haunted, this story was both unsettling and satisfying. I would definitely recommend it to other horror readers.
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HPL Reads: NY Times Book Review// You Should Have Left by Daniel Kehlmann 1 28 Jul 07, 2017 09:43AM  

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Daniel Kehlmann is a German-Austrian author.

His novel Measuring the World was translated into more than forty languages. Awards his work has received include the Candide Prize, the Literature Prize of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Heimito von Doderer Literature Award, the Kleist Prize, the WELT Literature Prize, and the Thomas Mann Prize. Kehlmann divides his time between Vienna and Berlin.

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