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The Ghost Notebooks

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  1,644 ratings  ·  260 reviews
A Belletrist Book Club Pick

When Nick Beron and Hannah Rampe decide to move from New York City to the tiny upstate town of Hibernia, they're in desperate need of a change: their careers have flatlined, the city is exhausting, and they've reached a relationship stalemate. So Hannah accepts a job as live-in director of the Wright Historic House, a museum dedicated to an obscu
ebook, 256 pages
Published February 1st 2018 by Pantheon Books
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Average rating 3.53  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,644 ratings  ·  260 reviews

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Larry H
Nov 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I'm between 2.5 and 3 stars on this book.

Nick and Hannah's relationship is in a bit of a tumultuous phase—she recently lost her job, they've both been reluctant to talk about getting married even though that is the next logical step in their relationship, and there's tension all over the place—when Hannah admits that she has applied for a job as the director of the Wright Historic House, a museum devoted to an obscure 19th century writer and philosopher in a tiny upstate New York town.

The time b
Mohammed Arabey
Caretaking a place, has its slightest share of supernatural power, can't go wrong, right?
Even if the Caretaker has his own slightest of..psychic issues..right?!

Then what went wrong here at this Ghost infested Historic House?

Well, it's not “Shinning” Horror, & not much a true "Gone Girl" mystery..
But it's an excellent Psychological Novel/Notebook..of feelings and Human Sensations; love, comfart, stress, anxiety, grief...A Notebook of life, Past,future & death..

it experience phases of life, in
Sarah Joint
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you're in the mood for something light-hearted about love and ghosts, put this one down and seek something else, come back to it later. From the synopsis, I expected it to be dark but it was even darker. It'll make you think and come back to haunt you later on if you give it a proper chance, the kind of book that sinks into you over time. I finished it four days ago but was completely unsure how to write a review at first.

Nick and Hannah are in a rut. They've been together for a long time wi
Feb 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Nick and Heather are tired.....tired of the city, tired of their apartment, tired of their lives. They need a change of scenery. Heather applies for a job as caretaker at a museum in upstate New York and before they even realize it's really happening they are moving to Hiberia, NY. The museum is dedicated to an obscure and strange philosopher and writer, Edmund Wright. At first, living in the historic house is a nice change for them. They enjoy planning events for school kids, leading tours and ...more
Feb 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018, ghosts
3 stars--I liked the book.

A creepy old house and ghosts--two things I adore in a book. I loved the idea behind this haunting (no spoilers), but I thought the book took its time getting to it. The ghost mystery doesn't show up until around the 70% mark. Still, cool idea.

It's make-or-break time for thirtyish couple Nick and Hannah. They're discontented, always bickering; Hannah has been made redundant, and while Nick isn't sure how he feels about getting married, Hannah wants nothing more. It takes an almost-breakup for Nick to realise he can't live without Hannah. He's so grateful to get her back that not only does he propose, he agrees to move with her from New York City to Dutchess County, further upstate, so she can take on a new job: caretaker of the Wright ...more
Feb 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Hannah and Nick, a young engaged couple with relationship problems, move to an old house in upstate New York. The house is reputed to be haunted. Hannah has a history of mental illness, she begins to hear voices and then she suddenly disappears leaving Nick bereft. I'm not sure what this book was, certainly not an atmospheric ghost story. It's more the story of the role of mental illness in a relationship. The story is told from the point of view of Nick and might have been more interesting if w ...more
Jessica Woodbury
Much to like in this horror novel. Feels like it's very much set in the present day, but uses the old-haunted-house trope effectively.

Nick and Hannah leave the city to become caretakers of a small museum in upstate New York. Nick is the narrator, but it's his girlfriend, Hannah, who appears to be gradually more and more affected by the house. This isn't the kind of book that will actually scare you. It's not spooky or suspenseful, if anything it's almost more of a thriller with a ghost story at
Bill Kupersmith
May 29, 2018 rated it liked it
I so wanted to like this book. It has an ideal plot. A couple who work in the artistic sector in New York City--he's a musical editor and she's a museum curator--flee to "upstate" (by NYC standards, Dutchess County, an under two hour drive, is "upstate" which I suppose puts Buffalo at the North Pole) to be custodians of an estate and museum that belonged to a 19th-c. eccentric writer. But narrator Nick is utterly self obsessed (he sounds as if he thinks he made a huge and generous sacrifice by a ...more
Mar 28, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
"Your own life is terrifying, but life is an unending astonishment."

I wanted to love this one - I did. But it's a very quiet book - an in-depth look at a relationship as a couple moves from New York City to the country to take care of an old house turned museum. I was ready for a ghost story but it has very little suspense or ghost or haunting. For such a short book, I was almost 150 pages in before anything really happened other than the couple moving and starting to work for the museum. Sure,
Samantha Colwell
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Review from Hello Yellow Room.

Feels like: Gone Girl meets The Haunting meets George Saunders

Sounds like: “Wait” by Wild Cub

“This is a thing that I’m sure is obvious to everyone else but is never-endingly astonishing to me: that every change, every life, consists of nothing but a series of days.”

I wish I hadn’t read this book so quickly, but I couldn’t help it. I ate it up. I consumed the tiny details of the haunted museum, the documentary style precursors to each chapter, the emphatic free-f
Katherine Moore
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
After a few bumpy starts, I raced through about 2/3 of this book in one go until a 3am finish. Obsessed with ghosts at an early age, I enjoyed this delightfully atmospheric novel which was told often with some humor and a good dose of self-reflection, by the narrator and protagonist, Nick. He and his fiancée Hannah move away from the big city and into this historic museum, the Wright House, in tiny Hibernia, to be its caretakers, which immediately gives you flashes of 'The Shining'. We don't get ...more
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ghosts
This was odd and strange but I really, really loved it. 5 stars.
Barb (Boxermommyreads)
This is one of those reviews I'm having trouble writing. Partly because there isn't a lot of action in the book and the reason I actually liked it probably had more to do with the atmosphere in it and not the actual action. First I have to say I think the cover does this book a huge disservice. Had I not investigated more, I would have had no idea it was a horror read. Then again, nothing about it was really horrific so I think advertising it as horror is a disservice to readers. See, I'm all ov ...more
Abbie | ab_reads
Nov 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Don’t you just love it when you go into a book basically blind and it ends up being all the better for it? For some reason I had convinced myself that The Ghost Notebooks was pure historical fiction, and indeed there is a historical element to it, but it’s more of a literary ghost story and such a unique book!
The story begins with Nick and Hannah realising their lives are in desperate need of a shake up, so Hannah accepts a job as caretaker of a historical house in the country, a museum dedicat
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
This small book caught my eye while reading the New York Times Book Review. The premise sounded intriguing so I gave it a read. Very good writing; Dolnick is quite skilled at descriptions, imaging and metaphor. This is a hybrid of ghost story, haunted house tale and first marriage love. He doesn’t linger but makes it into, through and out of the story in under 250 pages. Definitely worth a read. He has several other books out of you need more.
Feb 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would like to thank Pantheon Books for an advanced free copy of this book.
I was a little reluctant to read it at first, because horror isn’t my favorite genre. I read over one hundreds pages until I was finally interested in the plot. I was happily surprised with how the story developed, although I wish there was more to the ending.
Overall, I would recommend this book to people who aren’t into horror and want to read something completely different than they’re used to.
Dec 27, 2018 rated it liked it
I can’t really compare The Ghost Notebooks to any other book I’ve read. The narrative took the perspective of one of the main characters, Nick Beron. It also occasionally contained excerpts from books by the writer, Edmund Wright, the original owner of the Wright House, the perspective of Wright during his lifetime, and thoughts from an unknown female throughout the entirety of her life, I thought that these multiple perspectives and writing styles made the writing as a whole confusing and unwie ...more
I was glued to this book while I was reading it, and could not wait to get back to it when I was not reading it. But, looking back after finishing, I think you as a reader need to be fully invested in Nick and Hannah's relationship as a Great Love in order to love the book, and I wasn't quite there.

Don't get me wrong: I loved the fact that their relationship is messy and we see second thoughts about spending forever together. That felt real, something that young couples who are serious about ea
Jonathan Maas
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ben Dolnick gets into Book of the Year territory - any category - with The Ghost Notebooks

I knew what this book was going to be from the very beginning - that ultra rare combination of a tale that holds John Updike-levels of insight on every page, and yet makes you want to turn the page.

For example, on the main character's pre-marriage life:

Our fridge had become a collage of other people’s “Save the Date” cards; our credit card bills went all to flights to cities we didn’t want to visit where we
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I enjoyed Ben Dolnick's The Ghost Notebooks. Dolnick is a skilled writer. This is the story of a struggling young couple that coalesces into a very good classic ghost story. Dolnick presents a lot of interesting and relatable ideas that offer food for thought.

Nick and Hannah are a couple living in New York City. On the cusp of their thirties, they're unsure whether to break up or get married. When Hannah is offered a job in upstate New York to be the caretaker of the Wright Historic House, this
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A good ghost story haunts you, chills you with its dark atmospherics, fills you with the dread and horror of the unknown. In real life, our choices are what haunt us: past mistakes, fear of the unknown consequence. Failed relationships. Failed careers. In The Ghost Notebooks, Ben Golnick seamlessly weaves between the two to create a tale of horror of both the psychological and supernatural variety. The writing is gorgeous and perceptive, and the twists are gutting. It's the most riveting ghost s ...more
Dolnick's prose is fantastic -- full of rich simile, descriptive but not show-offy, packed with brilliant observations and clever turns of phrase. I was less enamored with the characters: Hannah, especially, I wish were better developed. But from the moment I started I wanted to keep reading this book, which was, in the end, less a haunted house story and more a surprisingly sensitive portrait of grief.
Nina Guzman
Apr 04, 2018 rated it did not like it
The cover is more interesting than the story.
Sonia Gensler
This was one of my Brooklyn bookstore purchases. Very clever and a fast read. More mysterious than spooky. I will read it again.
Birdie O
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Ghost Notebooks by Ben Dolnick was a combination of the most detailed descent into grief and madness ever written and a heartwarming story of love and salvation.  I started reading this book with high hopes.  The blurb makes it sound like something that keeps you on the edge of your seat, however I found that wasn't quite the case.

Initially, the book reads as a simple memoir.  A recounting of a man's life.  The beginning is a very long set-up, wherein Dolnick delivers excruciating details on
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5/5 stars

enjoyed this more than i would have ever thought !
Skylar Belle
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Full review on Polaroid Prose

I see a lot of reviews on Goodreads putting this book down just because it doesn’t fit the traditional genre conventions of Horror and Suspense. But, like… this book is SO MUCH MORE than that.

When reading The Ghost Notebooks, I often felt like I was reading two distinctly different stories that were all wrapped up in perfect halves and contained in Ben Dolnick’s novel The Ghost Notebooks.
The first half is like a portrait of a millennial couple shot on old school, a
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Re-discovered forgotten food is scarier.
Very good writing, but overall forgettable story. Also, the "ghosty" part of "The Ghost Notebooks" really lacked meat-and-bones; it was as though you were just starting to see this theme but when you tried to put your finger on it, it just dissipated into filmy air, leaving you wondering if it was even really there to begin with (There's a word for this....)
Finally: if, like I, you are hoping for some hair-raising heeby-jeebies that make you turn turn awa
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
The buildup during the first half of the novel was great but the rest of the book was a real let down and the outcome was very depressing.
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Ben Dolnick is the author of four novels: Zoology, You Know Who You Are, At the Bottom of Everything, and The Ghost Notebooks. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, GQ, and on NPR. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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