‘Today Show’: Jenna Bush Hager Goes Back in Time With Double Book Club Picks For February

Jenna Bush Hager of the Today Show is giving her “Read With Jenna” fans a special treat for February. Choosing two novels this month to help get readers through the winter, Hager has this month booked with promising literary selections that reflect historical events.

Jenna Bush Hager of the ‘Today Show’| Getty Images/Getty Images for Friends of Hudson River Park

‘Read With Jenna’ is closing in on 2 years

Hager is coming up on the second anniversary of her book club’s debut. Launching “Read With Jenna” in March 2019, the Today Show star knows how to keep readers engaged when making her picks.

“No matter what, you have to have a great, compulsively readable plot,” she said, according to Good Housekeeping. “Something where you cannot wait to figure out what’s going to happen. And, obviously, I was an English major so it has to be beautifully well-written.”

Apparently, two books fall under that criteria for February, where Hager decided on doubling the selections.

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Jenna Bush Hager got a recommendation from the New York Times

Hager is hoping her readers will be moved by a historical fiction novel that jumps between two different time periods and locations: pre-World War II Germany and present-day Wisconsin.

“In searching for a book that was beautifully written and captured the times, a New York Times book editor recommended that I read Send For Me by Lauren Fox,” said Jenna. “I think I read it in two days.”

The novel is centered around a young Jewish woman named Annelise who is living in Feldenheim, Germany. When she has the chance to escape her anti-Semitic environment and head to America with her husband and daughter, she must contemplate the agonizing reality of having to leave her parents behind.

Flash forward two generations in the Midwest, where Annelise’s granddaughter, Clare, finds her grandmother’s letters, and reads of what brought Annelise to her painstaking decision. Fox deftly communicates the stories of both women and the life-impacting choices they have to face.

“I’ve read so many books set in this time period leading up to World War II,” Hager commented, according to Today.com, “but this one felt really raw and fresh.”

‘Today Show’ star got some help from her book club members

Hager went with a voting process for the second book, and asked her book club members to make the selection.

“They picked The Four Winds, by Kristin Hannah,” said Jenna. “Kristin Hannah is a beautiful writer. I loved her 2015 book, The Nightingale.”

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Set in 1921 Texas, the novel features Elsa Wolcott who is considered too old for marriage. In the hopes of reclaiming her reputation, she marries Rafe Martinelli in a last ditch effort to be wed. When the country hits a depression a decade later and the Great Plains are ravaged by drought, Elsa has to use resources and strength within herself to provide for her children.

“This is my 24th novel and she is really my favorite character of all time,” Hannah remarked. “This idea of a woman who was sort of told she was no good, had no self-esteem, did not believe in herself. To take this character and put her front and center through all of these difficult times, and make her discover her voice along the way… and ultimately to get to a place where she felt so strong and so confident that she could use her voice on behalf of people other than herself and her children.”

Send For Me and The Four Winds are both on sale now.