The Bookish Life of Nina Hill4 min read
“Book nerds are daredevils, as you know.” (pg. 46)
After reading the synopsis of this book, I realized that the main character, Nina Hill, was correct with this sarcastic thought about remaining in her preferred genre for book club. The synopsis could not have described a more “me” character, other than the single and childless part. But I’m here to tell you that if I were both single and childless, I would be living the Nina Hill life and there would be books about me. Instead I spend my days with two children who could stand to have a little more respect for what I do, but I’m definitely not bitter or anything.
Enough about me, let’s talk about Nina Hill. Nina Hill works at Los Angeles in an indie bookstore with two friends. She doesn’t own a car, but she does own a cat who actually has a voice in this book. Obviously his voice is straight out of Nina’s head, but nonetheless if you like cats you will appreciate this character.
And if you aren’t a cat person, like me, then you won’t be bothered by Phil the cat. My point is that the talking cat doesn’t make or break the story and actually has very few lines.
The book opens up with an anecdote about being a bird and seeing LA from a bird’s eye view. This is the most interesting way to describe a city that we all know so much about and give us insight into Larchmont Boulevard, which is the specific area that Nina lives, works, and plays. We quickly learn about Nina’s friends and colleagues and the bookstore that is central to the story. Nina finds out quickly in the story that she has a long-lost family who all live within Los Angeles. How is such an introverted, set in her way character going to deal with this blatant disruption of her comfortable life?
Nina is quite in character; she is witty, intelligent, independent and never annoyingly self-deprecating which I can appreciate. Her thoughts make sense to a random thinker myself, like this analogy about what it is like to be an anxious person. “I feel like I don’t have a deep well of calm. I feel like I was lightly misted with calm, and it doesn’t take a lot for it to evaporate.” (pg. 170)
Abbi Waxman does a respectable job creating a character that so many of us can relate to. Nina has anxiety, and as someone with anxiety, I can applaud the way she peppered in how it is living with anxiety. Nina’s anxiety did not engulf the story, which in my opinion, made it more realistic. There is a point in the story when Nina’s anxiety becomes a catalyst for change in some of her relationships. You are able to see how anxiety can hurt some relationships or make other relationships relatable and stronger.
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill was not by any means a super profound read, but it was a very pleasant read to transition between a rather complex read like Where the Crawdads Sing into my next read which is a thriller. I laughed out loud and even belly laughed at several passages and interactions throughout the book. All the characters were lovely and had redeeming qualities, and that is coming from someone who is hard to please with character development.
Perhaps the most relatable quote from the book was this: “Do you know the best feeling in the world?…It’s reading a book, loving every second of it, then turning to the front and discovering that the writer wrote fourteen zillion others.” (pg. 329)
Abbi Waxman has only written two other books __at the time this review was written, so it is not fourteen zillion by any stretch (time to get to writing Abbi), but you better believe that you will see more reviews on this blog of this author in the near future. Please do me a favor, if The Bookish Life of Nina Hill sounds like a book you would enjoy, you can purchase it from Amazon to support this author. I want to see 14 zillion more works by Abbi Waxman.
Have you read this book? Does an introverted, intelligent, organized, trivia-playing, bookstore clerk sound like you or are you the exact opposite? Tell me in the comments below.