The Bookish Life of Nina Hill Summary & Study Guide

Abbi Waxman
This Study Guide consists of approximately 56 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Bookish Life of Nina Hill.
This section contains 2,871 words
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The Bookish Life of Nina Hill Summary & Study Guide Description

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman.

The following version of this novel was used to make this study guide: Waxman, Abbi. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill. Berkley, 2019. First Edition. Paperback.

The story begins in a neighborhood in Los Angeles called Larchmont, where the hero of the novel Nina works in a bookstore called Knight’s. She works with a stubborn woman who wants to return Pride and Prejudice after hating it. When Nina refuses, the woman says most people’s lives are not as boring as Nina’s and leaves. The narrator reveals that Nina is the only child of a single mother, born of an affair with a man Nina does not know. Louise, who acted as a mother to Nina, because her own daughter, Candice, only visited a few times a year. Later, she was diagnosed with ADHD and was encouraged by her school librarian to read many books and enjoy her creativity. This developed a type of dependance on books, as Nina uses them to escape her loneliness. The owner of Knight’s, Liz, reminds Nina to dress nice for someone named Mestophles, and it is revealed that Nina is a part of a Trivia club that has been banned from multiple places for winning too much. Nina herself hates forgetting things, and knows an impossible amount of trivia facts in every category.

At home with her cat Phil, Nina obsesses over her planner and her visualization board, filled with inspiration quotes and pictures. She thinks back to when she first started renting the guest house from Candice’s friends, and her mother gave her all the furniture and art from Nina’s childhood. Later, she heads to Trivia night where her team of best friends, Leah, Carter, and Lauren have to go to a new bar because they were thrown out of the last one for winning too often. Their only competition, the Quizzards arrives, and Nina says she is uninterested in the admittedly attractive leader, Tom. Meanwhile, Tom’s friend Lisa tells him to ask Nina out, but he does not. The next day, it is revealed that Nina’s group lost because Tom knew a question on sports that Nina did not.

At work, Nina is visited by Mr. Sarkassian, a lawyer for the estate of William Reynolds; Nina’s father. He reveals that Candice asked William to stay away from Nina when she was born, but William still left something for Nina in the will. Furthermore, William was incredibly wealthy, has children from three separate marriages, and they all live less than a mile away. Nina’s nephew, Peter, plans to visit her, as he is an anthropologist. However, Sarkassian says the other siblings are not happy to learn of her existence. Despite this life-altering news, Nina returns to work to help run the various youth reading programs that she started. The narrator describes the various ways that the mothers interact with each other to point out Nina’s observation skills. Then, the landlord Mr. Meffo (who Liz calls Mestoples) arrives, asking for rent. He mentions that there are others looking to buy the store, and Nina promises Liz she will pay for it.

At home, Nina calls Candice to inform her of William’s death. However, Candice dismisses it and says that Nina did fine on her own and did not need siblings for company. She also says that William would have been a terrible father, as shown by his willingness to cheat on his wife and lie to Candice about it. When Nina mentions the inheritance, Candice says she is old enough to deal with it and hangs up to continue her photo shoot in China. Nina wonders how life would have been if her mother would have stayed home, but decides that it was better for everyone that Louise raised her instead so Candice could live out her dream. Nina tries to google her father, but only learns that he is a lawyer, and that the media claims he only left behind a wife and one child.

Later, Nina attends book club with her four best friends, but the women end up discussing men, as Vanessa received a naked photo from a guy that she already agreed to go out with. Nina and the trivia team are attending the same movie as Vanessa (Aliens). When Lauren teases Nina for her unwillingness to talk to Tom, Nina says she will not date someone who she thinks does not read. This prompts the women to talk about the reasons they would not date someone, occasionally mentioning absurd reasons (such as ordering water without ice at a restaurant). They only return to their book discussion after Vanessa tells an awkward story about an ex who broke up with her for a fitness instructor.

At home, Nina responds to an email from Peter and agrees to meet for lunch on Friday. Once there, Peter excitedly tells her about the family and helps her draw out a family tree. Nina finds she enjoys a relationship that does not require complex feelings of romance or anything of her. However, she learns that she was conceived while William’s wife, Rosie, was pregnant. While she passed away ten years ago, Peter wonders how her son, Archie, will react to Nina. At home, Nina feels she may have ruined her new family’s lives by existing, and vents to her cat.

The next day, Archie visits Nina’s work and invites her out to coffee. While he is initially angry at her for the situation between her mother and William, he apologizes and warms up to her over shared interests. They two talk about their childhoods and Nina learns that William worked a lot, but seemed to care about his family when he was home. However, Archie says William was actually a narcissist who abandoned his family multiple times, and it was that side of him that won out in the end. At home, Nina remakes her goals and thinks about the Quizzard’s leader, but thinks he needs therapy before a boyfriend.

The next day, Nina and Liz host Author’s Night at the bookstore. The writer, Theodore, encourages the middle-aged women in attendance to embrace their wild side, and they all end up growling at each other in greeting. After work, Nina leaves to take pictures of her neighborhood before going to the movies. Once there, she meets Lisa and Tom. Lisa tries to give her ticket to Nina, but both Nina and Tom try to find reasons why she should not. After Lisa leaves, Nina’s anxiety of breaking her schedule forces her to leave Tom, who thinks she hates him. However, both of them find the other extremely attractive, but are unable to say it.

Two days later, feeling miserable over what happened, Nina prepares for the elementary book club where they are discussing The Mysterious Benedict Society. The girls debate on why kids in books get to do such interesting things, and a few believe it is because they do not have regular parents. Tom arrives, and he and Nina have an awkward conversation about possibly meeting up again after Nina apologizes for abandoning him at the movies. When one of the girl’s mother, Lili, arrives, Nina offers to help with crafts for a wedding. Lili’s daughter says that Nina should ask Lili for tips on flirting. At Lili’s home, Nina meets a six year old girl named Clare who knows as many random trivia facts as Nina and reads a lot. Nina helps with the flower decorations for Lili’s sister’s picnic wedding and Clare says she will see Nina there. Once done, Nina and Lili talk about Tom and Lili encourages Nina to date Tom and get to know him. She then gives Nina an invitation to the wedding, as Clare would be upset if she did not.

The next day, Nina is called to a meeting with William’s family at Sarkassian’s office as her niece, Lydia, does not believe that Nina is William’s daughter. The meeting ends in chaos as Lydia is clearly angry at everyone. Nina announces that she has no interest in the inheritance and leaves hoping the family will leave her alone. That night, she meets her Trivia team at the last competition that will qualify them for the regional Quiz Bowl and talks with Tom at the bar. The two make a bet over dinner on who will win, but Nina and her team have to face another group first. Unfortunately, Nina’s anger over Howard asking movie questions in a books category gets the group thrown out. Tom drives her home and the two kiss. He refuses to go inside, as Nina is very drunk, but Nina says she will consider seeing him again soon. As Nina tells her cat she found someone, Tom calls his brother, Richard, to gush about how much he likes Nina. Richard asks Tom to come to dinner that weekend to meet his fiancee, Rachel, and wishes him luck with Nina.

The next day, Peter calls to ask if he and Nina can be friends. Then Archie invites her to coffee and the two talk about their parents as well as personal anxiety. Archie reveals that William believed that all men cheated and even told Archie that he would too. While Archie does not believe that, he worries about failing his pregnant wife, Becca, and their son. Nina realizes she inherited her shyness and worries from William’s side of the family and encourages him. When he asks if she is single, she says no, detailing her meticulously laid out plans. Archie hopes she can someone worthy of cancelling some of those plans for and leaves.

Tom visits Nina at the bookstore the next day, but Nina is unable to find a spot in her schedule to go to dinner with him, proving Archie’s point. Polly says that Nina is too inflexible, and Nina again claims Tom is not meant for her because he does not read. However, during Nina’s reading time, she reads about a character who is lonely and thinks of Tom. They text back and forth about various things, but Tom leaves for a date with another woman. However, he wishes he could continue to text Nina instead. When Nina finishes her book, she heads to bed, but is happy to see a goodnight text from Tom.

Two days later, Mr. Maffo arrives and tells Liz that she has one week to pay him rent or he will be looking for another tenant. That night, Nina and her trivia team go to Aliens, and she eventually ends up at dinner with Tom. The two talk about shared interests, their families, and previous relationships. At the end of the night, they kiss again and Nina considers inviting him inside, but he leaves before she can. However, he sends her a message saying that he would like to, but they have plenty of time, which makes her smile.

On Sunday, Peter takes Nina to meet his mother (Nina’s sister) Becky at an animal shelter. There, she learns more about her father and how he was absent for most of Becky’s life and divorced her mother when she was young. Becky’s first husband, Peter, did the same thing. However, her second husband, John is enamored with her, the children, and the chaotic amount of animals she keeps at the shelter. When Becky asks Nina if she wants to take a dog home, she casually mentions how there is always room for someone new in the family, implying that she is accepting of Nina.

A week later, Nina attends the wedding of Clare’s aunt Lilly and is surprised to find that it is Tom’s brother getting married, and that Tom is the best man. The two talk about Tom’s family as he asks her to dance before eventually kissing her. That night, he finally accepts her invitation to spend the night. They talk about her bookcases before eventually sleeping together. The next day at the farmer’s market, Tom admits he may not ever understand what is going on in Nina’s head (as her imagination often feels out of control), but is entranced by her voice alone. At home, however, Nina’s anxiety kicks in as they are having a silly conversation about cartoonish ways they might die before their anniversary, and Tom asks to take care of her.

Later at the summer festival, Nina meets Tom and many members of her family. However, Mr. Meffo confronts Nina and reveals that the rent is six months overdue and he is going to rent the store to someone else. Liz confirms this in private, and Nina is devastated. While she tries to control her anxiety, she succumbs to a panic attack when she realizes what she will lose when the bookstore closes. Tom takes her home, but Nina - unable to cope with her severe anxiety - believes that she needs to be alone and ends up driving him away. She calls Louise and tells her everything that has happened, and Louise promises that things will work out with Tom if they are meant to. She tells Nina that she needs to do nothing for a few days and let things work themselves out before deciding what to do next. Before saying goodnight, Louise reminds Nina that she is not alone.

Later in the week, Nina goes to Millie and Eliza’s house and has a long conversation with Millie about her book collection and reading list. Millie shows Nina WIlliam’s extensive book collection and says that she misses him. However, she is glad to have met Nina. Eliza talks to Nina about William’s personality and how everyone had a different opinion of him. She then says that life is about finding someone who complements one’s personality.

Nina then goes to the reading of William’s will where most members of her family say that she belongs with them, citing many of her positive qualities. She learns that William left everyone else money, but gave her a car. Lydia is furious, but Eliza thinks that William assumed money was all many of them would care about. Sarkassain says that Nina has to drive the car once before she decides what to do with it and, after Tom does not respond to another text, Nina takes a cab to the garage.

Once there, she meets her father’s old friend, Moltres who teaches her how to drive the car and explains it was William’s favorite possession. As she leaves, she finds letters written to all of William’s children and grandchildren. In hers, she learns that he left a savings account with two and a half million dollars. William explains that he was an anxious person who tried to cope with drinking. While his life fell apart after Rosie’s death, Eliza helped him through therapy. He tells Nina to trust those around her and be brave instead of relying on her solitude.

When Nina delivers Lydia’s letter, they bond over Lydia’s love of books and trivia knowledge. After reading it, Lydia tears it up. She then tells Nina to talk to Tom, as a relationship with him will be more fulfilling that just her family. When Nina receives a call that Mr. Meffo’s decision to sell the bookstore has caused people to turn on him, Lydia offers to drive. Once there, they see two groups - one in support of the new, marijuana infused makeup, and the other in support of the bookstore - and they start throwing ice cream at each other. As the crowd finally leaves, Nina finds Liz and Mr. Meffo hiding inside. When the landlord leaves, Lydia demands that Nina talk to Tom and drags her to the Quizbowl as Liz cleans the ice cream.

Once there, Nina tries to talk to Tom but he refuses. The competition starts, and Tom’s team is evenly matched with the opposing one. However, both Tom and the other leader are stumped on the last question. Following the rules of competition (where an audience member can answer), Nina stands up and proclaims her love for Tom. She promises she will work to be better and says being with him is as good as being alone. They kiss. Afterwards, Nina learns that Tom specializes in building furniture, especially bookcases. The two proclaim their love for each other despite their flaws, and Nina asks if they can stay alone together.

The next morning, Nina gets a call from Vanessa that Liz is handing books out. At Knight’s Nina realizes that both Liz and Mr. Meffo were given marijuana-laced brownies from the rival buyers. She convinces Mr. Meffo to sell the store to her and promises to repay him everything they owe as she wants to run it herself. Tom agrees to the plan, and Nina says they can reopen after she returns from her impromptu trip to Mexico with Tom. The narrator says they went together and lived happily ever after.

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