A List of Jenna Bush Hager’s Book Club Picks as Revealed on the ‘Today’ Show
Jenna Bush Hager didn’t know her book club was going to explode when she launched it on the Today in March 2019. But when he did, he quickly became one of the co-presenters favorite parts of his work – after all, she was a passionate bibliophile most of her life.
“My first memories are lying in my bed before going to sleep with my parents reading Barbara [Jenna’s sister] and me, “says Jenna Good Housekeeping. “To this day, the sound of an audiobook will still make me sleep because I associate it with the reading they have done to me.”
Long before it became a household name on the Today show, Jenna remembers watching her old mom and dad President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bushleafing through books on their sides of the bed. According to Jenna, whatever free time they had, they always used to catch up on their reading.
As a child, Jenna particularly fell in love with Little woman, James and the giant peach, the Goosebump series, and, of course, all The Babysitter’s Club books. Now, however, as the manager of a growing book club, she feels responsible for also highlighting the works of lesser-known authors. But whether the books are bestsellers or not, Jenna has set criteria when assessing what to recommend.
“Either way, you have to have a big compulsively readable plot. Something you can’t wait to figure out what’s going to happen,” says Jenna. “And, of course, I was an English major, so it must be beautifully written.”
What books did the cut? Scroll down for a full list of Jenna approved choices:
May 2020 Choice
“All the adults here” by Emma Straub
Each chapter being told from a different person’s point of view, Emma Straub’s novel follows the Strick family as they navigate life in their own way. After the matriarch Astrid saw a longtime acquaintance hit by a bus, her point of view changed and forced her to take a closer look at her three adult children. At the same time, she thinks and realizes that she also grows alongside them. Described as a nice balance between light and important, Jenna adds that “it is a question of how families can be disorderly and complicated while being centered on love”.
Choice of April 2020
“Valentine” by Elizabeth Wetmore
Located in Odessa, Texas, in 1976, a city grappling with the aftermath of Gloria Ramirez, 14, was violently attacked in the early hours after Valentine’s Day. Through the perspectives of different characters, the first novel by Elizabeth Wetmore explores the intersection of violence, race, class and region. As men embrace the impending oil boom, women band together to overcome fear and seek hope instead. “Elizabeth really developed these characters that I felt like I knew,” said Jenna. “I found myself missing them after the story ended. Women are complicated. There are a lot of things at once.”
March 2020 Choice
Writers & Lovers by Lily King
In this story about adulthood, the protagonist Casey Peabody is forced to take a close look at her career and her love life after the unexpected death of her mother. Recognizing that she was not exactly where she wanted to be in the early 1930s, Casey became more determined than ever to live a creative life. “It’s sort of a love story. This is clear from the title, “said Jenna.” But I think what Lily King has done really well is that when you’re done with this book, what you find is that as long as you’re true to yourself and that you really understand what makes you happy is the true love story. ”
February 2020 Pick
“The girl with a strong voice” by Abi Daré
First novelist Abi Daré tells the powerful story of a 14-year-old Nigerian girl determined to create her own future. After being sold by her father to be the third wife of a local man, Adunni runs away and chooses a life of bondage, but she does not forget her ultimate goal: to obtain an education. “She is not educated, she is not allowed to learn. Although this is the fictional story of a young girl in Nigeria, it is really the story of so many others,” said Jenna about the novel. And while we are in two months in 2020, Jenna says that it is “the most hopeful story” that she has read this year.
January 2020 Choice
Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano
Inspired by real events, Dear edward tells the story of a 12-year-old boy named Edward as he rebuilds his life after losing his family in a tragic plane crash. The novel comes and goes in time, showing moments that take place on the flight from New Jersey to California, and current Edward with his aunt and uncle. “The theme or the message I carried really concerns shared humanity, kindness, faith, the search for redemption and grace even after the unthinkable, and that is what Edward does”, explained Jenna. Today the star recognized the sadness, she also found it to be “a very beautiful book full of hope”.
Choice of December 2019
“Late Migration” by Margaret Renkl
To end the year, Jenna chose a collection of essays that deal with love, loss and hope, which she describes as “slow and reflective and beautiful.” What started as a way to help author Margaret Renkl deal with important life events has turned into a book that paints a picture of her complicated and loving family. “It was a nice walk in the woods, you stopped and took all these beautiful things in life”, Today co-host spoke about reading the book. “About relationships, family, friendships, finding out who you are.”
Choice of November 2019
“Nothing to See Here” by Kevin Wilson
Inspired by author Kevin Wilson’s own parenting experience, Nothing to see here tells the story of a revived childhood friendship that comes with an unusual element – twins who burst into flames when they feel anxious, upset and crazy. Determined for a fresh start, Lillian decides to take up the challenge to help raise them and, along the way, the three learn to take care of each other. “The theme is definitely family, being yourself and finding who you are, even if what you are seems strange to the rest of the world,” said Jenna.
Choice of October 2019
“The Dutch House” by Ann Patchett
Jenna called this novel “a beautiful dark fairy tale”. The story takes place over five decades and explores the relationship between the brothers and sisters Danny and Maeve. When their father bought a property called Dutch House, he unknowingly imposed many difficulties on his children. Thinking about their challenges, Danny and Maeve seek to step out of the past and find forgiveness and love.
September 2019 choice
“The Dearly Beloved” by Cara Wall
Well love is a novel about two couples facing jealousy, uncertainty and grief, and finally understanding and joy. Located in New York in the 1960s, readers will follow a group of four (Charles, Lily, James and Nan) as they lead a historic church during one of the country’s most tumultuous decades. “Every couple has struggles – some of which are secret, some of which become well known. These struggles force them to get closer, to get stronger and to trust each other, as well as to a higher power,” Jenna said on Today.
Choice of August 2019
“Patsy” by Nicole Dennis-Benn
Jenna’s hope with this one is that it will “open up a lot of spirit”. The book follows Patsy as she obtains her coveted visa and has to leave her daughter, Tru, to build a better life in America. As Jenna warns that the story is filled with a “broken heart”, she says that it is more important than ever for all of us to understand how others live. “At the end, it’s a beautiful love story,” said Jenna on Today.
Choice of July 2019
“Evvie Drake Begins Again” by Linda Holmes
This dialogue-laden, yet light and fun novel caught immediately Jenna’s attention for her unique style and strong, titular character. “I was immediately captivated by Evvie Drake,” said Jenna on Today. “By the character of Evvie – and her difficult situation of finding herself as a young widow and trying to find herself after having been in this marriage and in this relationship since high school.”
Choice of June 2019
“In Search of Sylvie Lee” by Jean Kwok
As Jenna tells us, she and her sister, Barbara, share a common love of mysteries and simply couldn’t put it aside. The fascinating story begins with the disappearance of Sylvie Lee during a visit to her extended family in the Netherlands. Sylvie Lee’s best hope is her sister, Amy, who tries to piece together what happened and reveals dark secrets along the way.
May 2019 Choice
“A woman is not a man” by Etaf Rum
This powerful novel follows Israel, who was born in Palestine but comes to Brooklyn when his family organizes a wedding with a sausage owner. The story also focuses on Deya, the eldest of her four daughters. When Deya is forced to find a husband, she discovers shocking truths about her family. Although it may be a heavy read, Jenna says it ends with a “beautiful light”.
April 2019 choice
“The unfolding of the miracle” by Julie Yip-Williams
Posthumously published, this poignant memoir details the author’s turbulent education in Vietnam, and follows it through various career ups and downs in adulthood. She also wrote it while learning her diagnosis of terminal cancer. “It’s a great story about what it means to live,” said Jenna. Today show. “It’s sad in some ways. But also, for us who are still living, it’s a great reminder that life is precious, and it’s a gift.”
March 2019 choice
“The Last Romantics” by Tara Conklin
For Jenna’s very first selection of book clubs, Today anchor has chosen a real page turner. The last romantics is centered on the family of poet Fiona Skinner. Fiona and her siblings are deeply connected, but struggle to overcome a family crisis that puts their relationships to the test. It is a story of betrayal, what binds them and much more. “I had read a review about it and thought,” Okay, I’m dying to read this, “said Jenna.