Jenna Bush Hager is a woman of many talents, and we connect with her over a shared love of books. From picking a book every month for her Today Show and Jenna Bush Hager book club (@ReadWithJenna) to posting about some more of her favorite new reads on her Instagram, she’s a woman with excellent taste in books. This is what Jenna Bush Hager is reading for her @ReadWithJenna and @TodayShow book club.
Amazing Grace Adams by Fran Littlewood
At forty-five, Grace Adams’ marriage is crumbling, she’s estranged from her daughter, and she feels unfulfilled in life. She reaches her breaking point while stuck in traffic, and Grace simply abandons her car and walks away. With a €200 cake in hand and the city of London in front of her, Grace has one goal: to reconnect with her daughter on her sixteenth birthday.
Summer Sisters by Judy Blume
In the summer of 1977, Victoria was swept away into the privilege and enchanting world of Martha’s Vineyard when she became friends with Caitlin. As the years passed, their friendship has lost some magic and gotten more complicated. But Caitlin is getting married and she begs Vix to be her maid of honor. Vix agrees because she needs to understand what happened that final, shattering summer.
Banyan Moon by Thao Thai
Ann Tran has built a seemingly picture-perfect life. But when her beloved grandmother, Minh, passes away, the cracks in Ann’s life start to show. When she heads back to Florida for the funeral, she is reunited with her estranged mother, Huơng. Ann and Huơng learn that Minh has left them both the Banyan House, a crumbling, old, Gothic manor that served as Ann’s childhood home. For the first time in years, mother and daughter are under the same roof, trying to repair a relationship without the one person that tied them together. Parallel to this story is Minh’s journey from Vietnam to America. When Ann discovers something shocking in Banyan House, secrets come to life that show just how much Minh’s decisions affected the rest of her life and beyond.
The Celebrants by Steven Rowley
A group of friends from college have been in each others’ lives for for almost thirty years. They get together occasionally to throw “living funerals”, celebrations to remind each other that life is always worth living. Their living funerals have gotten them through grief, divorce, financial problems, and more. But this year is different because one friend has a secret that could change their tradition forever. This heartfelt yet humorous novel is a celebration of friendship and its power to get us through even the most challenging moments in life.
Chain Gang All Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
In the distant future, prisoners compete like gladiators in CAPE (Criminal Action Penal Entertainment). Whoever wins gets the ultimate prize of freedom. CAPE is extremely popular, but also highly controversial as it emerged from America’s privatized for-profit prison system. Loretta Thurwar and Hurricane Staxxx are lovers and two of CAPE’s all-stars. As Thurwar nears victory, she considers how she can help those she will leave behind despite the devastating consequences she faces from CAPE’s corporate leaders. Chain Gang All Stars is a deep look into America’s prison system, systemic racism, capitalism, and mass incarceration, and how these are all connected.
Camp Zero by Michelle Min Sterling
In near-future Canada crumbling under climate change, an architect building a refuge called Camp Zero is attempting to envision a new way of living. A woman named Rose joins a group of women hired to entertain those working for the architect. In exchange for information, Rose will secure a home for her displaced Korean immigrant mother. In a reflection on what the world could shortly become, this speculative novel explores survival, love and the ever-present need for community even amidst a collapsing world.
Maame by Jessica George
While Maddie’s mother spends most of her time in Ghana, Maddie takes care of her father in London, who suffers from Parkinson’s. When her mum returns to London, Maddie is ready to step out into the world and on her own. She finds a flat with some roommates, starts going out, and enters the wilderness that is online dating. But when tragedy strikes, Maddie is forced to face her unconventional family. With wit and snark, this novel explores family responsibilities, racism, female sexuality, love, friendship and the pull between two different cultures.
Sam by Allegra Goodman
Ever since she was a young child, Sam has loved climbing. She struggles with her feelings about her absent father, and ignores her mother’s plans for her future. As a teenager, Sam ends up in a complicated relationship with her climbing coach as self-doubt fills her mind. This coming-of-age novel explores class, parenthood, addiction, lust, and dreams in an emotionally honest way that will break your heart and piece it back together.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
A group of clever misfits studying at an elite New England college spiral down a dangerous path that crosses all lines of morality. Under the influence of their charming classics professor, they search for the transcendent but find something much worse.
The Cloisters by Katy Hays
Ann Stillwell is assigned to work at The Cloisters, a gothic museum known for its medieval art and mysterious researchers curious about divination. Ann, seeking to escape from her past, is more than happy to play along with the bizarre theories some researchers come up with. But harmless curiosity takes a dark turn into obsession when Ann discovers an old deck of tarot cards that might hold the secrets for predicting the future. When there’s a murder at The Cloisters, Ann is on a race for the truth as history and reality blur together.
The Whalebone Theatre by Joanna Quinn
The year is 1928 and a whale has washed up on the shores of the English Channel. Twelve-year-old orphan Cristabel Seagrave sees this as an opportunity to exercise her imagination. Cristabel invites her sister, her brother, the kitchen maid, and a visiting artist to help her build a theatre from the creature’s ribcage. As the years go by and Cristabel grows into a passionate young woman, World War II looms. Cristabel’s playacting is put to the ultimate test when she and her brother Digby become secret agents in Nazi-occupied France. An epic coming-of-age family saga, The Whalebone Theatre is a story of love, courage, adventure, and self-realization.
Solito by Javier Zamora
At nine years old, Javier Zamora sets off on a journey from El Salvador to the U.S. border, hoping that within two weeks, he will be reunited with his parents. Traveling with a group of strangers, Javier experiences treacherous boat rides, never-ending treks through the desert, pointed firearms, arrests, and other dangers. The two-week trip becomes a two-month journey alongside other migrants who teach Javier about the true meaning of family. Solito is a gripping memoir about the struggles faced by those forced to leave home, and about finding light and love during dark times.
The Many Daughters of Afong Moy by Jamie Ford
Artist Dorothy Moy makes a living channeling her debilitating depression and mental health struggles into her art. But when she sees similar behaviors in her five-year-old daughter and learns that she’s been remembering things from the lives of their ancestors, Dorothy is determined to seek help before her child suffers the same fate. She discovers an experimental treatment that helps manage inherited trauma, and connects with past generations of Moy women, all of whom lived wildly different lives and overcame hardship in each one. As these recollections begin to affect her own life, Dorothy learns that a stranger who has loved her through all her genetic memories has been searching for her in each time period. Now it is up to Dorothy to break the cycle of pain, make sure her daughter lives a happy life, and find the love that has been waiting for her all along.
The Measure by Nikki Erlick
When a small wooden box appears on every doorstep in the world, everything changes. Inside the box is a string, which, when measured, indicates the exact number of years each person will live. The story follows a cast of eight different characters whose fates intertwine as the consequences of this new world unfold: A pair of best friends whose futures are entangled, two pen pals seeking solace in the unknown, a couple who thought they’d have more time, a doctor with an unfixable diagnosis, and a politician whose box becomes the catalyst that changes everything.
These Impossible Things by Salma El-Wardany
This debut novel follows the friendship of three Muslim girls navigating love and faith as their prime college years come to an end. When one night takes a turn and changes everything— this trio has to find their way back to each other. Salma’s novel shows the power of treasuring those close to us and demonstrates love in all forms.
Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt
Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow
A book that follows three generations of a Southern Black family, the characters in Memphis are unforgettable for their honest and clear voices. Moving back and forth in time and interweaving the stories of mothers and daughters, this book is very personal and deals with themes of inheritance, legacy, justice, sacrifice, and love.
Groundskeeping by Lee Cole
“Groundskeeping by Lee Cole takes place in 2016, when a writer/college groundskeeper falls in love with someone who couldn’t be more different. Have you ordered your copy yet?💚 📚”
Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson
“There is something almost mysterious about it. I was on the edge of my seat. I wanted to know what was going to happen and who these characters were.”
The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan
“This beautiful debut novel tells the story of Frida, a loving mother who makes one critical mistake and has to pay for her actions by spending an entire year at a government reform program for bad mothers. This was THAT book that I couldn’t stop thinking about for days after.”
Bright Burning Things by Lisa Harding
“This book tells the journey of Sonya, a former actress who used to live a life of glamour. A story of a mother’s deep devotion and unconditional love, Sonya is forced to make a choice… change her life or lose her beloved son, Tommy. This beautiful book is a glimpse into the life of addiction and the hope that recovery can bring.”
The Family by Naomi Krupitsky
“’Mob Wives but set in 1930s and 1940s Brooklyn,’” we’re so excited to feature this debut novel and can’t wait for you to read along with us! 📚 💕”
The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles
“They set out on an adventure of a lifetime in 1950’s America… Towle’s brilliantly captures the inner reality and perspective of eight who you will never forget. It is beautiful, it is moving. It’s about family and friendship, where we find hope. I just love it!”
Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang
“A powerful and moving memoir about Qian Julie Wang’s childhood move from China to the United States and all the challenges that came with it, the novel sets out to depict a very different version of ‘Mei Guo’, the Chinese word for America that literally translates to ‘beautiful country'”
The Turnout by Megan Abbott
“‘The Turnout’ is a suspenseful mystery novel that tells the story of two ballerina sisters, Dara and Marie, who inherit their mother’s dance studio after losing their parents in a tragic but suspicious accident. We hope you’ll read along with us, and that you enjoy Megan’s dark, enchanting writing as much as we do! #ReadWithJenna”
Hell of a Book by Jason Mott
@JennabHager describes the book as, “Original, heartbreaking, poignant and in moments, hilarious.”
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Summer is starting, and it gets even better with this months pick, “This is the perfect beach read! It’s about the power of siblings. How much we love them, what divides us, what brings us together. Put this in your beach bag!”
Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
“This book has it all! It’s epic in scope … it’s about female ambitions, what we’re supposed to be and how to break out of that mold”
Good Company by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
While announcing this months pick, Jenna describes this book as “A story filled with charm, humor, and grace … a story about marriage, about female friendships, maybe about betrayal. It is the perfect book to take out to the park. You’re gonna think it’s predictable, it ain’t.”
What’s Mine and Yours by Naima Coster
“A good book + a hot cup of coffee = the best way to start a morning! ☕️💕(📷: @bookshelfbliss)” Jenna is starting off her mornings with her March book club pick.
Send for Me by Lauren Fox and The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
In honor and celebration of the second anniversary of Read with Jenna Book Club, we get two books to read for the second month of the year. February brings love and beauty to Jenna’s picks!
When talking about Send for Me, Jenna says, “It’s beautiful and poetic. It’s about what it means to be human, and family.”
The second book for February, The Four Winds, was a favorite pick of fans and Jenna, “You’ve been asking for Historical Fiction, so this month we gave you two great historical fiction books!”
Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour
January’s pick is starting off the New Year with a fresh start, and Jenna says it’s “raw and intimate — and a title I knew our book club readers needed to read as we begin this new year with a fresh start.”
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
An oldie, but a goodie. Jenna picks a Toni Morrison classic for her December pick, “I suspect that a lot of our book club members will be rereading this book for the first time since high school or college. I know I am particularly excited to pick up my old favorite again. I expect that it will hit me differently than it did when I was an adolescent girl, not much older than Pecola.”
White Ivy by Susie Yang
While Jenna praises her November pick for being juicy and fun, she also says “While I always rooted for Ivy and empathized with her, I didn’t always like her or agree with her choices.”
Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam
Suspenseful but emotional, Jenna Bush Hager says, “It is a suspense at its core, but to call it only a thriller discredits the incredible detail and intimacy with which the author writes about and understands family dynamics and race.”
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi, our September Guest Editor
Yaa Gyasi is back with her much anticipated second novel, Transcendent Kingdom. If you’re like us, you’ve been desperately waiting to hear from Yaa again after devouring her first novel Homegoing. Apparently, Jenna Bush Hager agrees, saying “I could not imagine a better book for this book club.” Jenna has announced Transcendent Kingdom as her September book club pick for the Today Show.
Here For It by R. Eric Thomas
R. Eric Thomas didn’t know he was different until the world told him so. Everywhere he went–whether it was his rich, mostly white, suburban high school, his conservative black church, or his Ivy League college in a big city–he found himself on the outside looking in. In essays by turns hysterical and heartfelt, Thomas reexamines what it means to be an “other” through the lens of his own life experience.
In the wake of #GeorgeFloyd‘s death, Jenna shared that she wanted to promote a book that could continue important conversations happening around the country.
Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan
Jenna has announced her July 2020 book pick: Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan. She says, ““’Friends and Strangers’ is a compellingly readable book that feels a little bit like a beach read, but at the same time tackles themes of acceptance of others and also of yourself.”
A Burning by Megha Majumdar
When announcing her selection, which also happens to be a Book of the Month pick, Jenna called the book “devastatingly beautiful” and added that she views books as a tool for empathy. The book tells the story of three unique characters whose lives become intertwined after a terrorist attack in modern day India.
“I hope that people will use the book to think about how they themselves have pursued dreams and tried to improve their own lives in hard conditions however those hard conditions have presented in their own lives,” said Megha, the author.
All Adults Here by Emma Straub
As we shelter at home and reignite our love of reading, @Jennabhager has this to say about May’s pick. “It’s bright and colorful and you can escape into it. We can read it from the comforts of our own home and feel good.”
Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore
“I discovered Valentine when the owners of @bluewillowbooks in Houston, Texas recommended it to me. The owner, Valerie Koeher knows my taste in books and my heritage growing up in West Texas—this fierce debut novel combines both perfectly . In a time when we all need an escape, fall into the lives of Corrnine and Debra Ann and Mary Rose and Glory. Valentine is a beautiful story of justice and redemption, grace and strength.”
Writers & Lovers by Lily King
“To celebrate an entire year of #ReadWithJenna, I am so excited to share with you all that March’s pick is “Writers and Lovers” by Lily King. This coming-of-age story grapples with themes of identity, grief, ambition and love. I hope you will read with us and fall in love with Lily King’s, Casey Peabody, just like I did!”
The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
“I’m in LOVE with February’s #ReadWithJenna book: “The Girl With The Louding Voice,” by Abi Daré! It is the fictional story of a Nigerian girl named Adunni who dreams of getting an education despite challenging circumstances. I fell in love with Adunni—her hope, humor and grace. And in the month of love — this is a love story about one young girl whose resilience and grit drive her until her voice is heard, loud and clear.”
Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano
“If you want to read more this year, and who doesn’t: read with us #readwithjenna! Dear Edward is the perfect book to start the year. It is a book about a remarkable boy named Edward who is the only survivor of a plane crash. It is a book about resilience and grace and about building a new life. As J. Courtney Sullivan said: “It will break your heart and put it back together again.”
Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss by Margaret Renkl
“December’s #ReadWithJenna pick is Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss by @margaret.renkl This book tells the story of Renkl’s personal life through little vignettes about her family and the happiness and sadness that comes with love and loss. With Renkl’s love for nature shown in this book, Late Migrations made me feel like I was taking a walk through nature myself. While it is a fast read, I read it slowly and enjoyed every word.”
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
“The Dutch House is a delicious, dark fairy tale that I read compulsively. It is also a beautiful love story about the power of siblings. Plus, who doesn’t adore Ann Patchett? #ReadWithJenna #OctoberPick“
The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall
“The Dearly Beloved is a book about faith and doubt. Love and sorrow. It follows two couples whose lives are intertwined as they navigate pain and joy. And it made me think about with whom and where we find comfort when life hurts? Or who we reach for when the goodness in the world makes us want to sing out with joy? I gave this beauty of a book to my family—and loved the conversations that came out of it. Read with me—this gentle, gorgeously written book may be one of favorites ever. #readwithjenna“
Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn
“We’re closing out the summer with another page-turner. This month we’ll be reading #Patsy by @ndennisbenn and it’s a book that promises to prompt a lot of meaningful conversations. Will you be joining us? Follow along over on @readwithjenna all month long.”
Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok
“For those wondering why it took us a few days to announce our June #ReadWithJenna pick, it’s because #SearchingforSylvieLee just hit bookshelves today! I can’t wait for y’all to read this gripping story.”
A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum
“May book club pick: a favorite book of all time! The beautiful A Woman is no Man! #readwithjenna“
The Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything That Comes After by Julie Yip-Williams
“And APRIL’s #readwithjenna pick is here!!! The Unwinding of the Miracle made me both weep as I read along with the author’s journey and hopeful—encouraged to live every day to the fullest. Join me and read a beautiful book about how we live and die; it’s sure to create awesome conversation!”
The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin
“We ❤️to read! Join along as we start @todayshow book club. We will read a different book each month. For March we will be reading The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin! #readwithjenna ?”
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