Curl up with some of the best books of 2021

Find Storyhouse Bookpub at 505 E. Grand Ave., Suite 102, in Des Moines’ East Village. Photo: Storyhouse Bookpub

As the holidays wind down and winter looms, it’s a great time to settle in with a good book. Abigail Paxton, owner of Storyhouse Bookpub in the East Village, shared three of her favorites from this year and why they should be on your to-read list. “I loved these three that all revolve around the female identity,” Paxton says.

“Girlhood” by Melissa Febos (Bloomsbury Publishing): “Let’s just say that after finishing one essay, I immediately turned the pages backward to reread it with a highlighter; after finishing another essay, I slammed the book shut and announced that my life has been forever changed,” Paxton says. “Melissa Febos speaks what is most deeply felt about growing up as a woman fighting the invisible tide of a world made for men, and she does it using absorbing scenes from her own life twisted together with pop culture and interviews and mythology. … It’s a luminous collection.”

“Fault Lines” by Emily Itami (Custom House): “Exactly the lush interior novel about daily domestic triumphs and tragedies I always fall for,” Paxton says. “The rich Tokyo setting is reason enough to get lost in this story, but Emily Itami’s voice rings witty and raw as her protagonist, a mother who stays home to care for her two children, sets off on a secret sexy love story that will have you thinking about authenticity and performance aspects of ‘wife and mother’ well after you finish reading.”

“Fight Night” by Miriam Towes (Bloomsbury Publishing): “No one captures the particularity of women talking like Miriam Towes—the epistolary format centers on a preteen narrator as she cares for her elderly jokester of a grandmother and is mystified by her pregnant eccentric mother,” Paxton says. “It’s an odd story, but I found myself savoring every page of these generations of women as they get into hilarious everyday high jinks and debates so much that I found myself stopping to read scenes and laugh aloud to whomever would listen.”

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