📚 The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

Reviewed Aug. 2019

Narrator: Emily Rankin
Length: 9 hours 3 minutes
Publisher: Penguin Audio⎮2019

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Summary

“Abbi Waxman is both irreverent and thoughtful.” (number one New York Times best-selling 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 Audiobookworm's Review

Rating: 4.5 Stars

I've never been so offended. Abbi Waxman had the nerve to write an entire book about my life and didn't even warn me about it. Can you believe that?!

I knew I was going to love The Bookish Life of Nina Hill before I even started it. I mean, it has the word "bookish" in it. That's a guaranteed win. What I wasn't expecting was how much I would relate to Nina. No joke- Reading this felt like reading my own diary (I don't keep one, but still...). Why yes, I have canceled plans in order to stay home with a good book. And yes, I do pretend that my cat speaks with a British accent. And...Wait a minute, has Abbi Waxman and spying on me?!

Seriously, though. I don't think I've ever related to a character in a book this hard. It upped my enjoyment of the book tenfold, but it also increased my anxiety (something else Nina and I share) because I was worried someone or something would hurt Nina and I would feel it even more deeply. I don't know how to logically explain that, but such is the nature of anxiety.

Don't pick this up expecting a lot of fast-paced action, though. Nina doesn't roll that way. It takes a little while to even see where the story is going, but I was happily along for the ride, like a Sunday drive. Self-proclaimed "Book Nerds" will adore The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, no doubt. The only thing I felt was missing what is Nina's opinion on audiobooks. I have to wonder what she thinks of them. There was a little throwaway comment about turning the bookstore she works at into an all audiobook store, but that was [unfortunately] in jest.

The romance was minimal and adorable. I liked Tom, but not necessarily his response to Nina's panic attack. He seems more of the "smothering with love" type and that's not what Nina needed in that moment. His butthurt response to her telling him that was childish and I don't think she should've had to apologize for it, but whatever. I do think that Tom will ultimately be a good thing for Nina.

I really do hope Waxman writes a sequel, perhaps one involving Nina's mother. I feel like there's a lot left to be explored there and they have an interesting dynamic. I also really loved how under dramatized Nina's family drama was. It made it feel so much more realistic and not overly-sensationalized. Lydia, in particular, grew on me.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill is the perfect book for book lovers. It's filled with bookish references and fantasies (wall-to-wall bookshelves, anyone?). Plus, as a trivia buff, Nina throws around fantastic pieces of trivia like confetti and I learned so many neat factoids from her I have already begun tossing around myself. This really was the most bookish story imaginable and I fell head over heels for it from the beginning because it was so stinking cute.

Narration review: I have heard Emily Rankin narrate before, but not for a while. Her performance in The Bookish Life of Nina Hill was excellent. Her pacing and comedic timing were both en pointe and she hit all the right notes to make Nina come alive, not only in my head, but in my heart as well. The tone of her voice was warm and soothing, perfect for characterizing Bookish Nina. I could just picture her curled up in a nook with a book or planning her day out while sipping a cup of tea. Rankin's performance was so moving that I overwhelmingly recommend this audiobook to all book lovers and audiobook listeners alike. ♣︎

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