Nina and Nikki: the same.
I must be honest: I feel personally attacked by this book written beautifully by Abbi Waxman. In the Bookish Life of Nina Hill, Nina lives a simple, yet anxious, life. Because her single-mom is a traveling photographer, Nina was raised by her wonderful nanny. Throughout the book, the reader becomes aware that Nina is very different from her mother. So, you spend some time wondering where our leading lady gets her bookish personality. Nina spends most of her time jamming on her planner, working in Knight’s Bookstore, petting her cat, then reading until her eyes cannot stay open.
Due to these characteristics, Nina is filled with fun facts and relevant pop cultural references. Other than books about every single subject, Nina enjoys films and television. She could give the Gilmore Girls a run for their money. However, when a lawyer enters the bookstore to tell her that the father-she-never-met-nor-knew-of died and named her in the will, Nina must re-fight her anxiety. Quickly, she inherits a very large family that comes with drama and stress. Unsure of how to handle herself, Nina must quickly learn to navigate her introvert personality with an adventurous group of people.
But, why do I feel personally attacked by this book? Please, stop here if you don’t want spoilers.
The first reason for the attack: our matching personalities. I am not as much as a bookworm as Nina. But, I do enjoy staying home, jamming on my planner, petting my dogs, and enjoying some much-needed alone time. Being alone can be wonderful! You have time to decompress, get lost in an imaginary world either through books or films, and reality goes away for a few moments. For Nina, having “nothing” planned means something. Her “nothing time” is time she won’t compromise on (same here). However, this throws a wrench into her dating her life.
The second reason for the attack: our matching dating problems. The issue for Nina and I are not the men we choose, but how we feel while dating. Nina prefers alone time because it makes her less anxious. Her anxiety was severe, so she began planning out her days. Knowing exactly what comes brings a sense of calm. I can relate. But, with dating, you don’t know what is going to happen. Again, I can relate. Mending your life with another’s can be scary and stressful. It comes with many responsibilities that may be worth it if you’re excited about the person. Simply put, being in a relationship means you enjoy the other’s company even if there are obstacles. However, Nina found Tom, who excites her and calms her anxiety. I have not found anyone similar (yet).
Nikki’s Lack of Excitement.
I didn’t expect this book to make me examine myself. It’s funny how books can do that. How you can somehow picture yourself in these situations or read a passage that resembles something you wrote in your journal. Although some may find this freaky, I find it nice. Characters that resemble you make you feel less alone. Isn’t that why we are drawn to stories? In many ways, we are trying to make another connection. One that is meaningful but also one-sided. Because art is subjective, we put our interpretations in art. Ownership belongs to the artist, but the feeling belongs to us. So, me seeing myself in Nina is my own doing.
I bought the Bookish Life of Nina Hill before the quarantine. It sat on my bedside in Dayton, Ohio; then, in a box until it was opened in Alamosa, Colorado. Nina held a mirror up to my life. She made me talk about previous romantic relationships with my therapist…which is something I never did before. A year before I started therapy, I was in a relationship with a guy who excited me. When that relationship ended, I was traumatized. But, I didn’t realize it until 3ish years later (maybe less…math is hard). That relationship was emotionally abusive: I found myself hesitant on expressing myself because I didn’t want him to dump me. He was going through a rough patch so he took it out on our relationship. I am not sure why he did it. Maybe he didn’t like my driven ways or homebody personality. Regardless, I’ll never know the reason for his bad behavior. He would drop his emotional baggage on me and wouldn’t even consider carrying my baggage. What. A. Dick.
But a relationship ends with two people. Two people who decide that it’s no longer fitting to be with each other. This forces you to analyze how you were in the relationship instead of placing the blame on the other person. Since that relationship, I’ve yet to feel excited about someone else. Every relationship after that one ended with no drama or heartbreak on my end. Therefore, I made peace with the idea of being alone. And, I love being alone. I am happy with who I am and I’m fulfilled in my life. But, that doesn’t stop me from wanting a relationship. All I need is someone to be excited about. I am a very passionate person, which makes me excited about almost everything in my life. However, it doesn’t translate to my dating life…yet.
As Nina says to Tom when she wins his heart back, “being with you is like being alone.” I need that too, Nina. I need a Tom to my Nina. A person who calms the anxiety but accepts it as a part of you. So, I highly recommend the Bookish Life of Nina Hill because you will find a character who resembles a part of you.
That’s all for now. Stay tuned!