‘Today Show’s’ Jenna Bush Hager Just Announced Her September Book Club Pick From Maternity Leave

Jenna Bush Hager of the Today Show and Today with Hoda and Jenna is currently on maternity leave from NBC, giving birth to son Henry Harold – whom she calls ‘Hal’ – on August 2.

The co-host of the morning program may be out of the office, but she’s still at work on her literary findings. In addition to caring for her newborn and two daughters, Mila and Poppy, Hager just announced her September pick for her book club, Read With Jenna. 

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

New ‘Book Club Queen’

Since launching in March, Read With Jenna has catapulted the careers of aspiring authors when chosen by Hager as her pick of the month. In June, Entertainment Weekly called her the new ‘book club queen,’ who is “demonstrating an individual power not seen since Oprah’s glory days” in the literary club arena.

Hager’s selections are clearly raising book sales. According to NPR, her first five choices of books raced ahead of the competition in sales. “We’ve seen these books overperform about 500% compared to the rest of the market for fiction during that time. So that’s a very healthy performance,” Kristen McLean of NPD BookScan said of Hager’s picks.

Her talent for choosing new authors may be genetic. Hager’s mom, Laura Bush, served as a librarian and vocal advocate for education and literacy during her time as First Lady to Hager’s father, President George W. Bush. Hager was also a teacher before she started her career in television journalism.

Pick for September

Hager announced her choice for September via video on the show, saying, “Even though I’m on maternity leave, I read this book late at night, in the morning. I loved it.” The book is entitled “The Dearly Beloved,” by Cara Wall, which Hager says is about “faith, friendship, relationships and what connects us.”

According to Today.com, the premise focuses on two couples brought together to lead a historic church in 1960s New York City, following their lives before and after they cross paths. The four main characters have varying backgrounds and are from different U.S. locations.

“The relationship dynamics seem universal. The way they lean on each other and love each other — and how the dynamics shift through some heartbreaking moments — reminds me of other couples that I know,” Hager said.

The book club founder suggested reading the book with others, commenting that it’s a good pick for couples. “I think it would be really interesting to read with your spouse and with friends,” Hager shared. “I told (my husband) Henry right after I finished it that I thought he should read it.”

Today.com announced they will be giving free copies of “The Dearly Beloved” to #ReadWithJenna Instagram followers starting September 4. To enter, fans should go to the Read With Jenna Instagram account and comment on why they or their book club deserve a copy of the book.

Advice for enjoying time off

Hager’s co-host on the fourth hour of Today, Hoda Kotb, just returned from her own maternity leave this week after adopting her second daughter Hope Catherine in April.

Kotb said recently reminded Hager why viewers can relate to her. “The reason that you’re such a phenomenal host and you’re so good at what you do isn’t because you practice, isn’t because you watch what other people do and imitate them,” Kotb said she told Hager, according to Today.com. “It’s because you’re you. Like, you’re more like people who watch TV than people who are on TV.”

The co-host shared some advice she gave Hager about her time off from work, encouraging her to stay in the moment and relish the time with her family. “I said all this time off that you take, all this time that you are enjoying with your children, will be reflected the minute you come back on the show,” she said. “So, that’s what I was kind of telling her, I said, ‘Just enjoy it. And know that this is like a moment in time and you get to live it, so don’t spend it looking around worrying about what’s ahead.'”

Fans are eagerly awaiting Hager’s return to Today!