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The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

Friday, August 28, 2020

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!

This is the first book I've read from my Autumn Reading List.  My daughter recommended it to me, and she said that her feelings would be hurt if I didn't put down the Mitford Series and read it!

{So I did.}

According to 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.

My Review:

I now understand why my daughter wanted me to read this book: Nina Hill has several personality traits in common with the girls in our family.  It was almost creepy, really.  Nina is definitely a book nerd and  lover of the arts: She majored in art history in college.  She's also a whiz at trivia, especially literary trivia.  She subscribed to Sports Illustrated to help her in her worst category; she still can't get over that she lost a tournament because she didn't know that all thoroughbred horses share the same birthday: January 1st. 

Nina lives in an artsy neighborhood in Los Angeles called Larchmont: It has a quaint old-town shopping street and well-maintained historic homes.  Nina's absentee mother (a Pulitzer-winning photographer) has friends who live in one of these homes with a carriage house, and Nina rents the carriage house apartment from them.  She loves it for its coziness and the beautifully crafted bookshelves.  Nina also enjoys village life because she can walk everywhere, even to work.  Nina is a bookseller at Knight's, and I have a suspicion that it pays homage to Los Angeles' oldest bookstore located in Larchmont:

Chevalier is French for knight.

Nina is shocked one day when an attorney visits her at work and tells her that her father is deceased and has remembered her in his will.  Her mother had always kept the identity of her father secret, and suddenly Nina is part of a large and complicated family.  The first person in the family she meets is her nephew Peter who's also an anthropology professor.  His mad skills prove helpful to her as she navigates her family kinship diagram, or family tree.

If Nina's life isn't complicated enough, she's falling for her top rival on the trivia bowl circuit:  Tom.  Tom likes her, too, but he has no idea that Nina likes to plan, doesn't like for her plans to change, and believes that all free time should be used for reading.  Tom isn't in her planner, so how can she possibly fit him in between book club meetings, trivia bowls, yoga classes, and scheduled free time reading time?  Plus she's stressed because her boss Liz is way behind on rent.

...and then there's Nina's anxiety, which has been ramped-up to a dangerous level...

I enjoyed this book because of the interesting characters in and around Larchmont Village.  Nina is well-drawn and complicated: She handles her new family with wit and grace, and she's adding family obligations to her planner for the first time in her life.  Her romance with Tom is humorous and sweet: they are the perfect little nerdy couple.  Abbi Waxman does an outstanding job depicting Nina's anxiety, and her omniscient point of view is delightful:  I enjoyed knowing Nina's cat Phil's thoughts and opinions of the humans, and I'm not a cat lover at all, so that fact illustrates that Waxman has a unique voice.  I highly recommend this novel.

Also:  Don't you want to know what Nina inherits from her father?  I'm not telling, but it is quite a surprise!

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Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. Sounds like a fun read. So cute you could share this with your daughter when they encouraged you to read it. Happy Friday. xoxo

  2. Well this sounds delightful and I am adding this to my list of books to read. I think it's so sweet you and the girls enjoy reading and sharing your books. I look forward to getting my hands on this one.

  3. I was able to order it from the library. I love our little library. I have been friends with the head librarian for eight years. I held a Lego Club at the library when my boys were in middle school and into high school. It was so fun.
    Anyway, if our system does not have the book, she has tricks up her sleeve to find a book.

  4. This sounds quite delightful -- and the neighborhood she's in sounds like my cup of tea! I love it that your recommendation came from your daughters!

  5. Sounds delightful, and how fun that you and your daughters thought the main character was a lot like you!


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.


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