Title: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
Author: Abbi Waxman
Summary: 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. But when the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies—leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews—Nina is horrified at the prospect of being social to strangers. Then Tom, her trivia nemesis, turns out to be cute, funny, and interested in knowing her. For Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, real-life has to live up to fiction, but will a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia make her turn the page?
Note: an eARC of this title was acquired via NetGalley.
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill was a cute, funny romantic comedy in book form. It had an adorably quirky protagonist who loved books and whose life wasn’t that interesting until Something Happened to kick it into gear. She had a nerdy meet-cute with a fellow trivia-buff who was an all-around Good Guy. She worked in a bookstore, talked to her cat as if he were a person, and her apartment had three whole walls entirely devoted to books. She ended up really clicking with (most of) her birth family and nothing really bad happened and then the book was over.
And everything was just kind of meh along the way.
Did stuff happen? Yes. Did it feel like there was any way everything was not going to work out in the end? No—and that was my main gripe with the story. I certainly enjoyed the book (and thought that Nina and Tom were like the cutest nerdy trivia-loving couple), but I also never felt truly invested in any of the characters or their struggles. Abbi Waxman writes everything through such a rosy glow that even Nina’s sometimes debilitating anxiety never feels that serious (as if her panic attacks are some kind of personality trait).
Nina lives alone and works in a bookshop and goes about each day according to her planner and nothing really (truly) matters because she doesn’t get emotionally involved in anything and so we aren’t emotionally invested in her. (This line from the summary pretty much sums it up → “If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.”) I liked Nina, and I liked Tom, and I liked this book, but it never went anywhere besides like. Instead, The Bookish Life of Nina Hill was a nice cozy book you satisfactorily close once you’ve finished, pause a little, and then maybe say “hmm, that was nice” before going about your day.