The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman tells the story of self-proclaimed bookworm and introvert, Nina Hill. In order to help manage her anxiety, she leads a very structured life, from her dream job at a bookstore to trivia nights with friends. Even her free time (Thursday evenings) is scheduled into her planner.
The story centres on a series of overlapping and amusing narratives that overturn the sense of control Nina so adamantly seeks to establish: when she discovers she has an entire extended family from her deceased father she never knew, when she meets a potential love interest on an opposing trivia team, and when her beloved bookstore faces an uncertain future.
Each of these narratives–written in Waxman’s wonderfully unique and witty style–encourages Nina to step out of her comfort zone while simultaneously celebrating exactly who she is: a loyal friend, voracious reader, trivia queen, and fiercely independent woman. With each new challenge and experience she encounters, she reveals an inspiring sense of authenticity and openness to self-reflection that is productive rather than self-deprecating. It’s one of the features that makes Nina such a likeable character; she may feel awkward, out of place, and indecisive at times, but she also maintains a strong sense of self that allows her to critically assess her opportunities for growth.
As a fellow introvert (specifically ISFJ!), I connected with Nina almost instantly. It was refreshing to read about a bookish introvert who was funny, sociable, and multidimensional. Waxman’s ability to capture an introvert’s sensibilities without resorting to overused stereotypes is, I think, the major success of this endearing novel. In describing how Nina replenishes her energy, Waxman writes, “She refuelled during the day by grabbing moments of solitude and sometimes felt her life was a long-distance swim between islands of silence” (p. 16-7). She goes on to explain how “…it’s hard to be human sometimes, with the pressure to be civilized lying only very thinly over the brain of a nervous little mammal” (p. 29). Waxman’s prose is both poetic and whimsical, making this story a real delight to read.
I highly recommend this book, whether you’re an introvert/bookworm or not. From Waxman’s unique writing style to Nina’s planner pages sprinkled throughout, this book is filled with all the hidden gems that make for a fun and memorable read.
Rating: 5/5 ★
If you’ve read this book already, leave me a comment and let me know what you thought!