The Bookish Life of Nina Hillby Published 9 Jul 2019
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"Abbi Waxman is both irreverent and thoughtful."--#1 New York Times bestselling author Emily Giffin
The author of Other People's Houses and The Garden of Small Beginnings delivers a quirky and charming novel chronicling the life of confirmed introvert Nina Hill as she does her best to fly under everyone's radar.
Meet Nina Hill: A young woman supremely confident in her own...shell.
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.
"The Bookish Life of Nina Hill" Reviews
Abbi Waxman's creation, the book obsessed 29 year old Nina Lee Hill was an absolute joy for me to spend time with, particularly with the mass of literary and cultural references littered throughout this wonderful piece of contemporary fiction with all its comic humour. Set in the offbeat district of Larchmont, LA, Nina works at the independent bookstore, Knights, established in the 1940s. It's the best fit for Nina, an OCD over planner, so Monica from Friends is obviously her favourite character. Nina is smart, sarcastic, socially awkward and anxious for whom spontaneity and the unexpected throws her for a loop. Books are at the top of the list in her 5 perfect things, they are medication, sanctuary and the source of all good things, nothing has yet proven her wrong and it's little wonder libraries are her idea of heaven.
Her mom is a famous photographer and free spirit, she has never known her father, and she was bought up and loved by her nanny, Louise, and Khalil Gibran's The Prophet has the most apt saying that defines her, 'You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts' as she lives her life in her off the wall and exciting fictional universe. Amidst her busy, tightly scheduled life of Trivia nights with her team, Book 'Em Danno, numerous book clubs and reading, that are her weapons of self defence, Nina's life has an almighty spanner thrown in it. She discovers a father she never knew about has just died, she is in his will, and is struck numb when she realises she has a huge and disparate family right on her doorstep. Then there is Tom, a member of another Trivia team, a whizz on the subject of sport, Nina's weakest area, annoying, really not a suitable boyfriend for her, after all he is not a reader, but.....she just cannot stop thinking about him.
Nina struggles to accommodate the idea that life is what happens whilst she has been busy making other plans, and overcome her personal intrinsic belief that 'Books are safer than other people' (Neil Gaiman). Waxman writes a gloriously funny novel with a raft of fantastic characters that lit up my life as I read it. Nina is endearing, a sharp cookie who can wax lyrical on the most obscure of subjects, her brain is a veritable encylopaedia of facts and knowledge, it's just her emotional side that is a challenge and which she needs to work on. This is for all those book worms out there, especially for those for whom books are one of the most perfect elements in an imperfect world, and for anyone else who enjoys well written contemporary fiction with oodles of warmth. Many thanks to Headline for an ARC.
This book, to me, was perfection. Beautiful story, astoundingly-relatable and charming characters that I could not get enough of, lovely fairytale-esque atmosphere and elegant writing style. Sometimes authors just mention that a character is a bookworm, hoping that the reader instantly connects, but instead of simply telling us about Nina Hill’s whole life revolving around books, she actually proved it to us, thus making her ten times more real and worth befriending to me.
This is not a story for those who like fast and furious. This is a story for the patient, those who appreciate quiet wisdom and who enjoy seeing extraordinary things happen to ordinary people. It is not a particularly complex plot—pretty straight-forward to be honest—but it features small surprises that spice up the reading experience when you least expect it. This is also probably one of few books that contain content that would typically frustrate me, such as miscommunication and jealousy, but that managed to entertain me and keep me guessing instead.
I would love to see this story unfold on the big screen. I bet so many more people will be able to relate to Nina Hill. Plus it would promote reading, bookstores and book clubs tremendously. It’s interesting because sometimes when I read ‘‘books about books’’ I feel the need to roll my eyes from the cheesiness of having a main character explain how great books are when every reader already knows that. But here because there was more showing than telling, I felt comforted by the book talking. Actually, this book makes me want to go back to watching BookTube videos.
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The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman is a 2019 Berkley publication.
Sweet, witty, clever and whimsical- my kind of people- in my kind of book!
By some standards, Nina may seem a bit eccentric. But, truly, she just likes her job and her books and a solid routine. She may be a classic introvert, but she hangs out with her friends and competes in trivia competitions.
However, her quiet, ordered life turns topsy-turvy when she is informed that her father, a man she never knew, has passed away, and she has been named in his will. Suddenly there are lawyers, and a slew of relatives invading her life- none of which fit into her carefully constructed day-planner.
Nor, does dating, it would seem, although there is an interested party- except it’s Tom, her main competition on Trivia Nights. If this weren’t enough to rattle her, her job at the bookshop is in jeopardy because her boss can’t pay the rent.
Although, Nina does her best to avoid the lawyers and new family members, and genuinely tries to pencil Tom in for a date night, she isn’t having much luck on either count. Will Nina ever be accepted by her new family? Will her day planner ever make time for poor Tom? Will the bookshop sink or swim?
I new I would love this book!! The characters are easier for me to relate to than the ‘loudest person in the room’, voted most gregarious types- and of course, who doesn’t love books about books?
I’ve never been to trivia night, but it certainly sounds like a lot of fun- although I’m not that knowledgeable or competitive. Everything about this book is executed perfectly- pace, dialogue, characterizations, and tone. It’s light, but has depth, is poignant, but mostly it’s a fun, feel good story anyone can enjoy. I loved Nina’s life so much, I felt a bit wistful, wishing I could find fit into the mix of work, family, and friends that make up her charmed life. The ending was the cherry on the cake and left me grinning from ear to ear!!
This is just an all-around great story about the truly important things in life and staying true to oneself while adapting to life’s inevitable changes. Of course, us bookworms and introverts will find this book highly relatable, maybe seeing a bit of ourselves in this story, which makes it even more charming and touching!!
All the stars for this one!! (Did you ever doubt it?) That's makes three for three for Ms. Abbi Waxman!!
This was a delight from start to finish. Books, reading, Larchmont. What’s not to love. Not only was I able to identify with Nina to some degree, I was able to imagine everything she did in the book, having lived in Los Angeles for so long and spending numerous hours on Larchmont Blvd. (Village Pizza, anyone? Sam's bagels! oh, the memories)
Nina is a bookworm who manages her life down to the second. She can pencil you in, if you are willing to wait a week, or two or three! She is an active participant in her trivia club, leads several book clubs, goes to movies and has various interests but always makes time for reading! She drinks wine, she's competitive, she's anxious, and she has an interesting relationship with her globetrotting Mother. But one day, her world turns on a dime, when a man informs her that her father- who she never knew -was dead! But wait...there's more- she's not an only child anymore, she has family, a who gaggle of them and this is when her life gets interesting...then there's Tom. Tom who? you ask... well Tom is her Trivia nemesis and damn it, he's cute, he's interesting, and he can't seem to leave her alone. What's a girl to do?
Ohhh, this was a fun, light, quirky, engaging, delightful and rewarding read. I found this book to be well written, well thought out and perfectly paced. Often, I think a book needs to have pages edited out, this book I wished was longer. I wanted more of Nina, Tom, and her interesting new family members. This is the type of book to curl up in your favorite reading spot, and completely absorb yourself in.
** This was a Traveling Sisters/Friends group read!!!
Thank you to Berkley Publishing and Edelweiss who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.
3.5 stars (I have to round up since I love making lists and of course, I’m bookish.)
The truth is that many of us are like Nina Hill and live bookish lives. We might not be as quirky and maybe not as smart (I know I’m not), but there’s so much about the bookish part that’s relatable and that’s what made this made light and lovely and even though predictable read, so much fun. Oh, I rolled my eyes a few time when it was a bit too cute. But overall, even knowing that I could tell you how it was going to end, I couldn’t help but root for Nina the whole way.
Nina prefers to be alone and preferably reading, but she’s not exactly a recluse. She has friends, plays team trivia, runs book clubs and has her dream job in a bookstore. She’s a planner, maybe OCD, and when she has free time, it’s not really free since that’s when she reads . I definitely get that ! She has no real family to speak of except Louise, the nanny who raised her. Her mother for all intents and purposes abandoned her, and while they are in touch, they see each other rarely. She doesn’t know who her father is. That is, until she is named in his will and family takes on a whole new meaning. And, of course, she meets someone. Can she find room in her schedule or more importantly her life for her new half siblings, nieces and nephews? This is that feel good summer book I was looking for, light but not too light, full of heart and a character who will touch the heart of many book lovers. She did mine.
I received an advanced copy of this book from Berkley through Edelweiss.