‘Today Show’s’ Jenna Bush Hager Ends Off 2019 With This December Book Club Pick

It’s that time again! Jenna Bush Hager of the Today Show and Today with Hoda and Jenna just announced her December selection for her book club, Read With Jenna. Feeling reflective with 2020 approaching and the chapter of 2019 coming to a close, Hager chose a contemplative collection of essays for readers to end off the year.

“Today Show’s” Jenna Bush Hager | Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Back in full swing

Hager returned to Today’s fourth hour from maternity leave on November 11. Taking her seat beside pal and co-host Hoda Kotb, Hager was clearly moved after receiving a warm welcome from her colleagues. “I evidently am very emotional, but that’s no surprise,” she said, according to Today.com. “I hope you all have these places in your life where you want to go back to because I wanted to come back.”

Having her third child in August – son Henry ‘Hal’ – Hager admitted leaving him on her first day back at work was tough. ”It feels so good,” Hager said about being back at work, according to USA Today. “Last night I held him a little tighter. I cried on his little head, I’ll admit it. I can’t believe he’s here and I get to be his mom.”

Though she was away from her Today post for several months, Hager never let her duties as Book Club Queen slip and announced each month’s selections via video.

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@hodakotb, I’m coming home!!!

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December’s pick

Hager chose something a little different this time, opting for a selection to ruminate over. Choosing “Late Migrations,” by Margaret Renkl, the Today co-host promises readers a relaxing literary journey. “It’s beautiful and it is a slower pace but I kind of loved that at the end of the year,” Hager said, according to Today.com. “We end with something slow and reflective and gorgeous.”

Renkl starts off recounting the story she was told about the birth of her mother, and concludes with her death. The compilation of essays gives readers an inside view of her complicated yet loving and close-knit family. The author includes essays on nature at her home in Nashville, Tennessee, using them to compliment her personal narratives.

An author’s inspiration

Focusing on on themes of love, loss, and hope with subject matter including mental health, grief, and caregiving, Renkl was encouraged by a friend in her writing group to weave her personal stories together for a book. “For a really long time, I had no idea I was writing a book. I was just writing in the same way that I’ve always written since I was a little girl; to try to make sense of what was happening to me,” Renkl said. “I started writing the very first essay not long after my mother died and not long before my mother-in-law died.”

Renkl included a series of artwork throughout the book created by her brother, Billy. “As an artist, his work is very aesthetically similar to my writing.” the author said of her sibling. “From the very beginning I knew I wanted to include him in this project because, of course, he was grieving our mother’s death just as much as I was, just as much as our younger sister was.”

The book clearly resonated with Hager, making her December pick an easy decision. “It was a beautiful walk in the woods, you stopped and took in all of these beautiful things about life,” Hager said. “About relationships, about family, about friendships, about finding who you are.”

“Late Migrations” is on sale now!