Looking to read more? You're not alone! In 2023, Jenna Bush Hager is encouraging people to start or strengthen their reading habit through an initiative called Streaking With Jenna (no, not that kind of streak). The rules are simple: Read every day, and keep track.
Authors Emily Giffin and Harlan Coben stopped by the 3rd Hour of TODAY to name a few of the books they've been enjoying lately, from feel-good romances to stunning thrillers. No matter what you’re looking for, this author-approved guide will help you find the next page-turner to add to your shelf. There are tons of benefits to reading books, so you should feel good about picking up a good read. Think of it as pampering your brain.
Harlan Coben's Picks
Best Historical Fiction
“Everybody Knows” tells the story of underhand publicist Mae Pruett, whose job is to hold on to sordid information so tightly that no one can confirm circulating rumors for sure and can only whisper about these wrongdoings. She works for The Beast, a complex web of crisis public relations firms, security operations and lawyers located in Los Angeles who will do whatever it takes to protect the scandalous secrets of the rich clients they represent. Nothing stays secret forever, though, and after Mae’s boss is randomly gunned down in front of the Beverly Hills Hotel, she embarks on a terrifying investigation into the work of The Beast.
“Jordan Harper’s ‘Everybody Knows’ is a pure hit of neo-noir. It is dark, violent, bold — and romantic as all get out,” Coben said on TODAY.
“Yes, I have this gripping novel listed under Best Historical, but ‘Anywhere You Run’ could have just as easily been my Best Thriller selection. It’s 1964 Mississippi, and two sisters go (on the run) — one from the law, one from social shame — after the murder of a white man. You’ll be riveted from page one,” Coben said.
Three innocent men are murdered for trying to help Black residents secure the right to vote in Mississippi. Soon after, young Violet Richards finds herself attacked, and kills her attacker. With the knowledge that she’ll never be able to survive in her hometown alongside brutal Jim Crow laws, Violet flees her home in pursuit of Georgia.
Violet’s sister Marigold, on the other hand, is running from her own trouble in Jackson: the threats she faces as a young, pregnant and unmarried woman. After the town murder brings policemen to her front door, Marigold realizes that she too must leave Jackson behind.
What Violet and Marigold don’t know is that running away brings about a new danger altogether, one that’s hot on their trail.
Best Book to Screen
After a divorce from his wife of fifteen years, Toby Fleishman had a shaky new grasp on what his future would look like. He pictured splitting up holidays with the kids and snarky exchanges. What he was not expecting was for his ex-wife Rachel to drop the kids off at his house one day and never return.
At the time of Rachel's disappearance, thing had finally been looking up for Toby. He was looking forward to a summer of sexual exploration in his newfound singleness. Now, the only thing he has to comfort him is the convenient narrative of the selfish wife who left him all alone to raise the children. But if Toby really wants to know where Rachel went, he has to reevaluate what their marriage was truly like and the circumstances that brought them here.
“Brodesser-Akner wrote and developed ‘Fleishman Is in Trouble’ for Hulu — and both the novel and the series are gripping, funny and emotional journeys. Read then watch. Or watch then read. Great either way,” Coben said.
Emily Giffin's Picks
This romance has all the ingredients necessary for a fulfilling and heartwarming read. London resident Hannah receives a wrong phone number call from an American man named Davey. Instead of ending their story at a butt dial, Hannah and Davey begin a string of texts, which turn to long-distance phone calls, which become video calls. Soon enough, Hannah and Davey are in a full-fledged relationship ... despite having never met. When the day to meet one another finally approaches, Hannah finds herself all alone at the airport terminal in a shocking twist.
“I love a good will they or won’t they romance, and this one turned out to be unexpectedly deep, tackling a really important issue that impacts so many,” Giffin tells TODAY.
Best Debut Novel
Delia Cai hits the mark in this debut novel exploring themes of immigration and what home really means. “Central Places” follows Audrey Zhou, a young woman who left her small hometown to create the life she’d always dreamed of — and now she has it. A life in New York City, complete with a high-profile job and a picture-perfect fiancé, Manhattan native Ben.
However, if Audrey really wants to embark on a new life with Ben, that means facing the one task she’s been trying to avoid: Returning home to Hickory Grove, Ill. so Ben can meet her Chinese immigrant parents. Ben might be ready to take on New York Audrey, but is he ready for the high parental expectations and childhood friends shoved out of sight awaiting him in Illinois? Not to mention, Audrey has Kyle to deal with at home, her laid back stoner boy crush from high school who might be the only one who truly understands her, old and new Aubrey alike.
“Delia does an incredible job of capturing the complicated feelings that returning home can evoke — especially when an old boyfriend is involved. I love this intergenerational immigrant tale and Delia’s sharp social commentary about identity and cultural differences. Delia Cai is an exciting new voice in fiction,” Giffin tells TODAY.
Best Motivational Read for the New Year
Life coach Andrea Mein DeWitt breaks down how to handle life’s stressors into three simple steps for any reader to follow: name, claim and reframe.
Throughout her work, DeWitt noticed that many clients struggled with how to face everyday triggers and challenges because they never truly learned how to identify these stressors. How can we be expected to conquer life’s challenges when we don’t even know how to approach them? That’s why DeWitt is teaching readers how to name the source of their stress, claim relevant actions that align with their values and reframe their thinking in order to achieve an optimistic reset.
“This book is filled with inspiration and wisdom about how to take control of your life, but is written in a funny, relatable and heartfelt way with anecdotes that will resonate with everyone regardless of their age, background or gender,” Giffin said.