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Jenna Bush Hager shares her 5 favorite books to celebrate 5 years of Read with Jenna

“There’s nothing like falling in love with a book."
three of Jenna Bush Hager's favorite books

Jenna Bush Hager has been an avid reader her whole life. Since 2019, when Read With Jenna started, she's shared her love for books with the world.

“I love reading for so many reasons, it really is sort of my escape from everyday life. It’s how I calm down. It’s how I detach. It’s how I fall in love with other places that I will never go to. It’s how I empathize with characters who are nothing like me,” Jenna told TODAY.com. “There’s nothing like falling in love with a book.”

To celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Read with Jenna book club and her love for reading, Jenna is sharing some of her favorite books she's read throughout her life — and they go beyond her book club picks.

"A Little Life" by Hanya Yanagihara

The novel follows four friends and recent graduates from a Massachusetts liberal arts college as they make their way to New York to begin their adult lives. Yanagihara explores the friendship between her characters as well as their struggle with loss, abuse and addiction.

"The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison

After reading it for the first time in 8th or 9th grade, Jenna immediately felt moved by Pecola’s story.

"It's a book that transformed me. Books can completely create empathy and can make you live inside somebody's shoes who you've never walked in," Jenna told Hoda on TODAY.

"Bel Canto" by Ann Patchett

Jenna describes herself as a "forward reader" — someone who doesn't often read books over and over again. But Jenna says she's read "Bel Canto" at least twice.

"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith

Susie Yang, author of November 2020 pick "White Ivy," recommended "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" to Read With Jenna members a couple years back.

“I cared about the Nolans as if they were my own family. I wept for them, I cheered for them, I wanted them to have a good life," Yang told TODAY.

It also happens to be one of Jenna's all-time favorites.

Born to a poor immigrant family in Brooklyn, 11-year-old Francie perseveres her way to the top, educating herself and embracing her love for reading. "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" follows her to age 17 and explores the life experiences and challenges that she faces while coming of age.

"The Secret History" by Donna Tartt 

A Read With Jenna pick in 2022, Tartt answered questions about her famous book in an interview with TODAY.