“The Bookish Life of Nina Hill” by Abbi Waxman BOOK REVIEW

The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill

Publication Date: 9th July 2019

Publisher: Headline Review

ISBN: 9781472266217

Genre: Romance

Strong Point: The main character Nina Hill is very enjoyable. In fact, most of the characters are very good and enrich the main plot. 

Weak Point: The scenes about the quiz contests were quite boring.

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Goodreads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3.83/5)

Read book blurb here


“Being with you is as good as being alone.”

“THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL”

So here’s the thing: this book is about a girl who loves books and her idea of having fun is staying at home reading. And she has a cat. And she works in a bookshop. And she is obsessed with planning. 

So what is there not to like? Let me tell you all about it…

THE STORY

Nina Hill is 29 years old and works in one of the few independent bookshops in Los Angeles called “Knight’s”.

She never met her father and her mother is what one would call “a free spirit”. This means that she basically has grown up alone, had it not been for her nanny Louise whom she misses more than her real mother. Louise was the person who introduced her to reading, by the way…

Nina lives in a rented guesthouse with her cat Phil with whom she has very interesting conversations. She graduated from UCLA in Art History. 

She attends weekly Trivia competitions with her few friends and there she meets Tom, from the rival team, whom she dislikes. But does she really?

However, her life is going to give a 360° turn, when she receives a visit from a lawyer at the bookshop to giver her some very bad news. But are they really bad? Because it seems Nina has now a family, a whole “new” family, which is going to turn her solitary life into a nightmare. But is it really such a “nightmare”? You would have to read it to find out 😉 .

SENSE OF HUMOUR AND IMPORTANT ISSUES

“The Bookish Like of Nina Hill” may mislead you as an easy, “light” reading. And of course it is. But it deals with many other important and “heavier” topics that accompany the romance genre to which this book belongs. 

First of all, Waxman presents us with a character, the main character, who openly speaks of her mental problems. And this is huge because, as a society, speaking about mental illness is almost a tabu. Furthermore, people tend to hide that they suffer mental problems, although they openly talk about having cancer or heart problems. So this is greatly appreciated. 

Second, the author expresses through the character of Tom, the importance of loving someone (including family) for what they truly are. Furthermore, we have to try not to change people to adjust to our personal tastes. And anyway, people never change!

And third, Waxman talks about the importance of other people in our lives. It is great to feel ok being alone and enjoy solitude. But we are social animals and need interaction with other people. So seeking absolute solitude is not so great for our mental health.  

MENTAL PROBLEMS

As the story unfolds, we can clearly see that Nina is seriously struggling with her mental health (aren’t we all?) and we experience through her some very hard moments.

However (and without entering into a lot of detail to avoid spoilers) as a person suffering from anxiety and panic attacks, I feel that sometimes Nina does not truly portray someone who suffers daily from mental problems.

I know there are people who suffer from “highly functioning depression and / or anxiety” but these people also struggle a lot daily. Unfortunately, I do not see that daily struggle in Nina. She puts herself into situations that someone with those mental problems would never want to experience.

That is, of course, my point of view based on my personal experience. 

By the way, Waxman includes at the beginning of each chapter a page of Nina’s planner for the day ahead. This lovely addition let us see yet another part of Nina’s mind, and how his brain works. As an avid planner myself, I have loved these pages. 

FINAL THOUGHTS ABOUT “THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL”

This book has really warmed my heart. The story is well written and easy to follow. I knew, of course, what would happen at the end, but nevertheless it is completely worth reading it. Plus all the bookish references!!!!! 

The characters are lovable, especially Nina and Tom. I really like their conversations, specifically the funny ones. They made my reading experience very pleasant. 

In addition, the vast cast of “secondary” characters wrapped up the main couple in such a way, that without those, the main plot with Nina and Tom would have been a bit boring.

Characters like Nina’s boss, Liz, or Peter (Nina’s nephew), or even the (at first-sight) awful Lydia (Nina’s niece) add lots of warmth, humour, and “fluffiness” to the central story.

All things considered, I really recommend “The Bookish Life of Nina Hill”. It has been for me a breeze of fresh air. Specially what I needed.   

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