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Reese Witherspoon and Jenna Bush Hager gush about their favorite books

"The more people reading the better," said Witherspoon.
/ Source: TODAY

"Happy World Book Day!" Jenna Bush Hager announced Thursday as she signed on to her Instagram Live.

In honor of the holiday, the TODAY co-host held an Instagram Live with fellow literature lover Reese Witherspoon. Both women have become prominent figures in the world of books, making monthly recommendations through their respective book clubs.

"The more people reading the better. I just think it expands our understanding of each other as human beings and it is so important," Witherspoon said.

Jenna shared similar sentiments, remarking on the power of books to "connect people" and "provide solace," especially during trying times.

As the two book lovers chatted, they each recommended several of their favorite titles, ranging from children's literature to the last book that made them cry. If you missed the chat or couldn't find your pen fast enough to jot down their recommendations, we've got you covered.

Here's a list of all the books Jenna Bush Hager and Reese Witherspoon talked about during their Thursday chat.

Reese's Book Club's April pick

"Untamed" by Glennon Doyle

As a mom, daughter, motivational speaker, friend and more, Glennon Doyle has felt an overwhelming need to be good at every role she has been called to play. Instead of feeling fulfilled, though, Doyle finds herself in discontent and overwhelmed.

It all comes to a head for Doyle when she is speaking at a conference and looks across the room at a woman and instantly falls in love. This book tells Doyle's story of learning to trust herself, listening to the voice within her and shedding years of cultural conditioning and numbing addictions. She shares how she became a mom who could inspire her children to live full lives, rather than a mom who suffered in the name of parenthood.

Doyle's "Untamed" is both a deeply personal memoir and a call to action. It will inspire readers to follow their instincts so they can create strong families and lives they can be proud of.

Read With Jenna's April pick

"Valentine" by Elizabeth Wetmore

"For anybody looking for a great escape, this is a wonderful book where you will find yourself really engrossed in the stories of these women," Jenna said.

Set in Odessa, Texas, in 1976, the novel follows the aftermath of a horrific act of violence: the attack of a 14-year-old girl named Gloria Ramirez. Told through different characters' perspectives, the story explores how race and class intersect in a small, secluded community on the cusp of an oil boom.

"Elizabeth really developed these characters that I felt like I knew," Jenna gushed about Wetmore's debut work. "I found myself missing them when the story was over. The women are complicated. They are a lot of things at once."

Read With Jenna's December pick

"Late Migrations" by Margaret Renkl

During their conversation, Jenna brought up her December book club pick, "Late Migrations," knowing the author, Margaret Renkl, was one of Witherspoon's high school English teachers.

"I could start crying about Ms. Renkl," gushed Witherspoon. "She taught me to look at literature and find characters that were similar to each other."

"Late Migrations" is a compilation of essays that weave together to touch on themes of love, loss and hope.

Throughout the book, her essays paint a picture of her complicated but loving family. Interspersed in Renkl's personal stories are essays in which Renkl writes about her own observation of nature in her suburban backyard in Nashville, Tennessee.

"I loved that book so much. I was so glad you chose it. Her words are so beautiful and thoughtful and she just loves nature," said Witherspoon.

The book also includes a series of artworks done by Renkl's brother, Billy Renkl.

"It was a beautiful walk in the woods, you stopped and took in all of these beautiful things about life," Jenna said. "About relationships, about family, about friendships, about finding who you are."

Authors to read for a good laugh

Nora Ephron, David Sedaris and Jenny Lawson

Witherspoon said she's been reading a lot of comedy during the quarantine.

"I just want to have a laugh right now," she told Jenna.

Both women agreed that hard times can be helped by a daily dose of humor, and what better place to get it than in a book?

The award-winning actress shared that some of her favorite authors to turn to for a laugh are Nora Ephron, David Sedaris and Jenny Lawson.

What Witherspoon is reading with 7-year-old son Tennessee

"Dory Fantasmagory" by Abby Hanlon

When Witherspoon told Jenna she was reading "Dory Fantasmagory" with her 7-year-old son, Tennessee, Jenna pulled the series off of her bookshelf. Jenna said she and her daughter Mila are also huge fans of the series.

Dory Fantasmagory is an energetic, attention-loving little sister. She loves to play with her siblings but, being the baby of the family, she is often left alone with her wild imagination. Dory stays busy fighting off monsters, exacting revenge on her sister's doll and much more. Then, when her siblings need her, Dory's bravery shines through.

The hilarious book is a must-read set for any rambunctious young child.

What Jenna is reading with 7-year-old daughter Mila

"The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix Novels" by Raina Telgemeier

After connecting with Witherspoon about "Dory Fantasmagory," Jenna told Witherspoon she would also love reading "The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels" with her kids.

The series is about best friends and founding members of The Baby-sitters Club: Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia and Stacey. The four girls stick together no matter what challenges they face.

As they watch whiny toddlers, face down scary dogs, seamlessly handle fashion emergencies and overcome all obstacles thrown their way, they learn what it takes to be successful babysitters and, more importantly, wonderful friends.

A book filled with life lessons

"The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz

Witherspoon recommended "The Four Agreements" as a book about human integrity.

Don Miguel Ruiz's self-help book teaches readers how to find happiness using a powerful code of conduct. By revealing the negative impact of self-limiting beliefs, Ruiz gives readers the tools they need to transform their lives.

The book is based on ancient Toltec wisdom. It is powerful and simple, providing readers with a road map to freedom and love.

A great book for graduates

"The Measure of Our Success" by Marian Wright Edelman

Written as a letter to her children, Edelman's "The Measure of Our Success" shares an inspirational message about how one should live their life.

Witherspoon shared that she read the book as a young woman and was so impacted by its powerful words that she still recommends it to people today.

A book about sharing household responsibilities

"Fair Play" by Eve Rodsky

One of Witherspoon's book club picks, "Fair Play" offers practical, real-life advice about how to share household responsibilities with your partner.

Jenna shared that her own husband, Henry Hager's eyes were opened to the responsibilities of the household when he read the book after Witherspoon selected it for her club.

The author, Eve Rodsky, doesn't just share her experience talking about household responsibilities with her own husband. After studying 500 couples she created an easy-to-follow system that gives readers a new way to split chores and organize their household effectively.

Witherspoon's favorite mystery

"The Secret History" by Donna Tartt

Written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "The Goldfinch," "The Secret History" is about a group of students at an elite New England college who create a new way of thinking and living under the influence of their alluring professor. When moral lines are crossed, their lives are changed forever.

The profound psychological thriller will have you glued to every page. It is an entertaining and fast-paced book that is masterfully written.

Jenna's favorite mystery

"The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield

When a reclusive author, Vida Winter, sets out to pen her thirteenth novel, she decides it is time to tell the truth about her tragic past. With the help of a young biographer who has a past of her own, Winter reveals her haunting tale.

In the telling of the truth, both women confront their demons and transform their lives.

Witherspoon's favorite love story

"The End of the Affair" by Graham Greene

Set in London during World War II, Sarah Miles and Maurice Bendrix are having an extramarital affair until Sarah decides to call things off with seemingly no explanation. Filled with jealousy and bitterness, Bendrix sends a spy to follow Sarah around. What he learns will change the way he thinks about love and faith forever.

Jenna's favorite love story

"Love in the Time of Cholera" by Gabriel García Márquez

While Jenna said this book may hit too close to home right now, she called it one of her favorite love stories she has ever read. By Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez, this novel is about the unrelenting power of love.

As a young man, Florentino Ariza falls passionately in love with Fermina Daza. He is heartbroken when Fermina marries a well-born doctor but never stops loving her. As his career blossoms, he never settles down romantically. When Fermina's husband passes away more than 50 years after he first declared his love, he attends the funeral with a plan to win Fermina's heart yet again.

A book Witherspoon loved as a child

"Ramona Quimby" book series by Beverly Cleary

A series of books written by acclaimed children's author Beverly Cleary, the "Ramona Quimby" series gives a voice to all the rambunctious children of the world who refuse to be silenced by an authority figure.

From nursery school to fourth grade, Ramona deals with issues ranging from the death of her pet to schoolyard bullies. The series is humorous and fun for kids of all ages.

A book that opened Witherspoon's eyes to a new culture

"The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy's debut novel, "The God of Small Things," is set in India in 1969 and tells the life-changing story of an affluent Indian family. The novel is both an esteemed work of fiction and a powerful political commentary exploring how small things have dramatic effects on the lives of two twins, Estha and Rahel.

The last book that made Witherspoon cry

"Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng

Just released as an original series on Hulu (starring Witherspoon, who also served as an executive producer on the project), "Little Fires Everywhere" is about a cookie-cutter town near Cleveland that receives an unwanted disruption when Mia Warren, an artist and single mother, moves to town with her daughter.

When a custody battle over a Chinese American baby erupts, the town is divided, leaving Mia on one side and her by-the-book landlord, Elena Richardson, on the other. Elena, suspicious of Mia, starts to dig into her mysterious past, but what she finds has devastating costs.

Ng's story explores the consequences of secrets and the danger of blindly following the rules.

"You meet all these different kinds of mothers and it really makes you question, what makes a mother? Witherspoon asked. "It just creates beautiful conversations with people who read it."

If you would like to help booksellers during the coronavirus pandemic, you can donate to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation here.

For more #ReadWithJenna selections, you can take a look back at all of Jenna's book club picks. Also, check out our Read With Jenna page.

To join in the #ReadWithJenna conversation, be sure to follow us on Instagram (don't forget to tag your photos with #ReadWithJenna), join our Read With Jenna Facebook group and follow along on Goodreads to continue the conversation about the March pick, "Writers & Lovers."