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.
Book club questions for The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
- Nina is perfectly content with her books and cat. Let’s discuss why Nina is so withdrawn from the world. How did her upbringing influence the person she’s become?
- Can you relate to Nina? Are you as obsessed as books as she is?
- What did you think of her relationship with Tom? Do you think they’re a good match? Are in they in it for the long haul?
- Let’s talk about Nina’s new family! What did you think of all the different dynamics? How would you have reacted if you were Nina?
- Why did Nina’s mom not want Nina to know about her dad? How would have things been different if she knew about her family the entire time?
- In getting to know her family, Nina finds out some of her traits seem to be inherited like her anxiety. What did you think about those sections?
- How did Nina grow as a person from the beginning of the book to the end of the story?
- Nina and Tom both love their trivia—have you ever been part of a trivia team?
- If they made this story into a movie, who would you cast in the main roles?
What to read next
If you’re looking for some lighter reads, check out these recommendations! Both feature book club questions as well.
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren is a feel-good romantic comedy.
Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin: from inexplicable mishaps to a recent layoff, her life seems to be almost comically jinxed. By contrast, her sister Ami is an eternal champion . . . she even managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a slew of contests. Unfortunately for Olive, the only thing worse than constant bad luck is having to spend the wedding day with the best man (and her nemesis), Ethan Thomas.
Olive braces herself for wedding hell, determined to put on a brave face, but when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. Suddenly there’s a free honeymoon up for grabs, and Olive will be damned if Ethan gets to enjoy paradise solo.
Agreeing to a temporary truce, the pair head for Maui. After all, ten days of bliss is worth having to assume the role of loving newlyweds, right? But the weird thing is . . . Olive doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, the more she pretends to be the luckiest woman alive, the more it feels like she might be.
I’m Fine and Neither Are You by Camille Pagán is a look at the challenges for modern women.
The story follows Penelope—a wife, mother and the breadwinner of her house. While she proclaims she’s “fine,” in reality; she’s barely holding it together. She’s able to vent her frustrations to her best friend Jenny, even though it seems Jenny is sailing through life. As close as the two women are, Jenny’s passionate marriage, pristine house, and ultra-polite child stand in stark contrast to Penelope’s underemployed husband, Sanjay, their unruly brood and the daily grind she calls a career.
Then a shocking tragedy reveals that Jenny’s life is far from perfect. Reeling, Penelope vows to stop keeping the peace and finally deal with the issues in her relationship. So she and Sanjay agree to a radical proposal: both will write a list of changes they want each other to make—then commit to complete and total honesty. But both quickly wonder if honesty is the best policy?