Fans of the Read with Jenna book club on The Today Show: get even more recommendations for Jenna Bush Hager’s favorite books right here.
Her book club is my personal favorite celebrity book club, as she and I both trend towards literary and more character-driven fiction. Since I have already read ALL of her book club picks (and maintain a popular updated list with my thoughts on Jenna Bush Hager’s book club picks), I wanted to dive into even more of Jenna Bush Hager’s recommended rooks.
So, as I followed along with her book club (and I once appeared on The Today Show’s book club), I started keeping a list of books mentioned in various news and social media sources as Jenna Bush Hager’s favorite books. She’s a lifelong avid reader and former teacher with a love of some truly exceptional books!
I have now also read all of Jenna Bush Hager’s favorite books throughout her lifetime, and I share them below with my personal thoughts on each one.
Jenna Bush Hager’s Favorite Books to Recommend
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
The first book Jenna loved
My thoughts: Who hasn’t read or doesn’t love Goodnight Moon?! It’s a must-read for children and adults alike.
In one of the most beloved books of all time, a little bunny tucked into bed says, “Goodnight” to everything in the softly lit bedroom—from the clocks and his socks to the mittens and the kittens.
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
A childhood favorite of Jenna
My thoughts: Charlotte’s Web is another universally beloved book that is a must-read for children and adults alike.
High up in Zuckerman’s barn, the spider Charlotte in her web marvels at a small pig named Wilbur, who wants a friend. They also express their love for a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur’s life when he was born as the runt of his litter. This Newbery Honor Book is a tender story of friendship, love, life, and death.
The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin
Jenna Bush Hager’s favorite books as a pre-teen
My thoughts: The Baby-Sitters Club books are also what cemented my status as a steadfast and lifelong reader. They combine entrepreneurship and FUN for young ladies, and the characters feel like real people, with fully drawn, unique personalities. I love this series so much I wrote an entire tribute to The Baby-Sitters Club.
In the sensational series The Baby-Sitters Club, entrepreneurial (and sometimes bossy) Stoneybrook, Connecticut teen Kristy forms a club with her unique group of friends of different backgrounds to babysit local kids to earn money and give back to their community. The series follows the girls as they learn about life and have fun adventures in the process. Readers can relate to the girls and learn from them at the same time. It’s not just a book series, it truly is a way of life.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Jenna’s favorite book from high school
My thoughts: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was also one of my favorite books in high school. I can still remember reading it and watching the movie! I recall my fellow classmates also loving it, and I hope to read it again soon.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a PBS Great American Read Top 100 Pick about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the twentieth century. Francie Nolan grew up in the Williamsburg slums of Brooklyn, New York. The Nolans’ lives were filled with raw and honest drama, from her father’s drinking to her aunt’s serial marrying. This book captures everything from “junk day” on Saturdays, when the children made trades for pennies, to the excitement of holidays. It captures a unique time and place while also creating moments of universal experience.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Another of Jenna’s high school favorites
My thoughts: The Bluest Eye was the first Toni Morrison book I read. While I did like it and understand its importance, I also found the subject matter to be one of the most difficult I have ever read.
In The Bluest Eye, which was recently a Read with Jenna book club pick, Pecola Breedlove is an 11-year-old Black girl with a love for blond, blue-eyed children so that she will be beautiful and so that her very dark world will be different. This is the story of the nightmare at the heart of her dream and the tragedy behind its fulfillment.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Jenna’s favorite book from college
My thoughts: I read The Secret History recently after both Jenna and Reese Witherspoon recommended it, and I LOVED it. It’s a thriller for literature lovers in which every word matters and truly paints an intimate and disturbing portrait of New England preppy goth in the 1980s.
At an elite New England college in the 1980s, a group of eccentric liberal arts students falls under the influence of their classics professor, and become obsessed with living as they did in ancient times. But when they exceed the boundaries of morality in doing so, they go down a dark path of no return and their lives are changed forever. The penultimate scenes unfold second by second, and you won’t be able to put it down.
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Another of Jenna’s favorites from college
My thoughts: I enjoyed Bel Canto, but I also found it to be a very slow read, and I didn’t quite connect with it as I expected to. Still, I understand why so many love this book.
Bel Canto is the Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award, Winner of the Orange Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist. Set “somewhere” in South America, at the home of the country’s vice president, a lavish party is being held in honor of the powerful businessman Mr. Hosokawa. Roxanne Coss, the opera’s most popular soprano, is beautifully singing. It’s a perfect night — until a band of gun-wielding terrorists takes the entire party hostage. But, over time, what begins as a life-threatening situation slowly evolves into a moment of great beauty, as unexpected bonds are formed.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Jenna’s favorite book from the last decade
My thoughts: Homegoing is absolutely exceptional and unforgettable. Each character’s short vignette felt like it could have been a novel itself, and both the writing and story are utterly rich. You truly feel within the story reading this book.
Homegoing is a New York Times Notable Book, one of Oprah’s Best Books of the Year and a PEN/Hemingway award winner. In Ghana, in the eighteenth century, two half-sisters are born into different villages, each unaware of the other. One marries an Englishman and moves to the Cape Coast Castle, while the other is captured in a raid on her village and imprisoned in the castle, sold into slavery. This book follows the lineage of these sisters through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. It shines a light on the legacy of slavery from different perspectives.
A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum
A recent favorite book of Jenna’s
My thoughts: I loved A Woman is No Man. It was so immersive and captivating, and a book I will not soon forget. A true modern standout.
A Woman is No Man is a Read with Jenna book club pick with more accolades than I can count: New York Times bestseller, GOODREADS CHOICE AWARDS FINALIST FOR BEST FICTION AND BEST DEBUT, BOOKBROWE’S BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR, A MARIE CLAIRE BEST WOMEN’S FICTION OF THE YEAR, A REAL SIMPLE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR, A POPSUGAR BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR ALL WRITTEN BY FEMALES, New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, Washington Post 10 Books to Read in March, Newsweek Best Book of the Summer, USA Today Best Book of the Week, Washington Book Review Difficult-To-Put-Down Novel, Refinery 29 Best Books of the Month, Buzzfeed News 4 Books We Couldn’t Put Down Last Month, New Arab Best Books by Arab Authors, Electric Lit 20 Best Debuts of the First Half of 2019 and The Millions Most Anticipated Books of 2019.
In Palestine, 1990, Seventeen-year-old Isra quickly finds herself betrothed and married, then moves to Brooklyn. She struggles to relate to her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and abusive new husband Adam, which intensifies as she begins to have four (and no sons). In 2008, her oldest daughter Deya is meeting with potential husbands at her grandmother’s insistence, but she really wishes to go to college instead. In this process, she begins investigating the scary truth behind the car accident that killed her parents years earlier. This is a coming-of-age book you won’t soon forget.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Jenna’s favorite book to movie adaptation
My thoughts: Little Women is one of my favorite books of all time. It works for all ages and genders, and it is one classic that is easy to read and so utterly heartwarming. The recent movie adaptation is also probably my favorite book to movie adaptation. It’s exceptional, start to finish and top to bottom.
This is the classic American tale of four sisters: feminine Meg, tomboyish Jo, quiet Beth, and precocious Amy. Their father is away during the Civil War, and their mother is working to support the family. So, they rely on their creative playtime, from putting on a play to celebrating Christmas, to make it through wartime. In the process of wondering whether their father will return home safely, they come of age.
Toni Morrison Anthology
What Jenna would read if she could only choose one book for the rest of her life
My thoughts: As mentioned above, I enjoy Toni Morrison’s books, but I also find them to be really difficult in the subject matter. I also find them to be difficult to read. Her writing style is very poetic, and I am very logical. Still, she is a legend.
Toni Morrison’s anthology includes Jazz, The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, Beloved, Tar Baby, A Mercy, Sula, and Paradise. They are modern classics and award winners that very emotionally convey the Black experience.
I hope you were able to find at least one new book to try from this list of Jenna Bush Hager’s recommended books to try.
Before you go, I also thought it would also be fun for readers to share the favorite books of their lifetime, as Jenna did. So, I created the Instagram story template below. Feel free to save it and use it on Instagram: