Review: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
Title: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
Author: Abbi Waxman
Published: 9 July 2019
Format: Paperback, Library book. Also read on Overdrive (e-book)
Memorable Quote: “Some people take energy; some people give energy . . . Occasionally, you get lucky and find someone whose energy balances your own and brings you into neutral.”
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
“The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.
When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?
Nina considers her options.
1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)
It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.”
Weirdly enough, I’m finding The Bookish Life of Nina Hill to be really challenging to review. Did I enjoy it? Yeah, mostly. It was a slow moving book with some good pop culture references and a protagonist that was pretty interesting and infuriating.
In some ways I often found myself kind of mad at Nina, because I related to certain parts of her life. She loves to be alone, plan her days, and enjoys her independence. Same. Everyone is always pushing her to date, but she likes to be alone. Then life happens (aka the father she never knew about dies, and the cute guy from trivia seems interested in her), and suddenly she isn’t so sure what she wants. While I’ve never experienced everything she has, I know what it’s like to second guess what you want and to run back and forth between all the choices.
There were times that I felt the “book” theme of the book was almost too much. I feel like a lot of the times bookworms/avid readers are portrayed as judgmental people who only care about reading and don’t have a life outside of it. While Nina did have interests outside of reading, everything came back to it, always, and there were times she was judgmental to the point of being rude and difficult to like. I was almost surprised that Tom asked her out after she made several rude remarks and assumptions about him.
If a guy did that to me, I would be put off and walk away. But I’m not the most patient person, so oh well, haha.
Despite the slow plot, the book reads quickly and pretty easily. There are like 3 plots and a few subplots happening at once, and none of them are overly detailed, and if anything, the ending felt a bit rushed where pieces just happened to fall together perfectly with minimal effort from the characters (there were several of them to keep track of, by the way).
Overall, I found Nina’s story to be mostly charming and oddly relatable and not relatable at the same time. It was a pretty fun book that would have made a delightful beach read (but it also worked as a 10 degree weather in Ohio sort of read).
Have you read The Bookish Life of Nina Hill? What did you think?