'Today Show's' Jenna Bush Hager Just Announced Her Book Club Pick for July

Today Show’s Jenna Bush Hager, co-host of Today with Hoda and Jenna and now known as the “Book Club Queen,” has just announced her latest pick from her highly-followed book club Read With Jenna.

A romantic turn

According to Today, Hager’s July selection is “Evvie Drake Starts Over,” by Linda Holmes. The author’s first novel centers around the title character a year after the death of her husband.

“I was captivated by Evvie Drake right away,” Hagertold Today. “By the character of Evvie — and her predicament offinding herself as a young widow and trying to find herself after being in thismarriage and being in this relationship since high school.”

Despite the serious foundation, thebook is lighthearted in tone and shows Evvie’s journey of making new friends,including one that may turn into a romance. “In a lot of romanticcomedies, you kind of know exactly what’s going to happen,” Hager said.“You know exactly the character’s motivation, which is to find the guy.And really, I think (Evvie’s) motivation is to find herself. And to me thatfelt really empowering and fresh.”

Hager was compelled by the main character. “You could really hear Evvie’s voice,” Hager said.“You can imagine sitting at that kitchen table, and having a conversationwith her, because these conversations feel so realistic that they’re likeconversations we’ve all had.”

But Hager was sure not to give away any spoilers. “Now, does she find a guy too? That I can’t tell you,” she said.

A familiar setting

The setting of “Evvie Drake Starts Over” is described as a “sleepy seaside town in Maine,” something Hager found nostalgic. Hager spent summers at her family home in Kennebunkport, Maine, with her entire family including her father, President George W. Bush, and her grandfather, President George H.W. Bush.

In an interview with NPR, President Bush Sr. spoke about how important their Maine home was to the entire family. “It’s where my family comes home, and it’s our anchor to windward,” Bush told reporters in 1991. “It has great meaning in terms of family and we are blessed. The Bush family is blessed.”

“The sense of setting is so strong,” Hager said. “As somebody who has visited Maine every year of my life, I felt like I was there.” The sandy backdrop of the book makes it the ideal take-along for the beach. “It’s the perfect summer read. It’s light, it’s fun,” Hager said. “I left wanting more!”

Hager proves to have literary influence

Read With Jenna has proven to give authors a leg up on the best-seller list, over fellow book club leaders like Reese Witherspoon and Sarah Jessica Parker. According to Entertainment Weekly, Read With Jenna stands alone in sales impact this year in comparison to other book clubs, calling her influence of book selections something that hasn’t been “seen since Oprah’s glory days.”

Hager kicked off the club in March, hoping to inspire viewers to return to a traditional hobby. “I think in a world that can feel very, sort of, technologically-obsessed, it’s kind of fun to go back to the old-school book clubs,” Hager told Today. “My mom (Laura Bush) was in one. My grandma (Barbara Bush) was in one. I’m in one. And now we get to do it. Even though it is through tech, we get to be connected and have conversations.”

With Entertainment Weekly calling Read With Jenna “publishing’s most coveted seal of approval,” authors are most likely hoping to make Hager’s list at some point.

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