2023 Read with Jenna Book Club List: The Best Books Ranked

Read With Jenna Book List
2023 Read with Jenna Book Club List: The Best Books Ranked 43

** Read with Jenna Book Club List Updated 10/24/23**

Looking for all the books on the Read with Jenna Book List ranked? You’ve come to the correct place!

Jenna Bush Hager didn’t start her book club until early 2019, so it’s not nearly as long as Reese’s. (You can find the Reese list ranked here).

While her list is shorter in number, the vast majority of the books we’ve read from her list have been exemplary. Think 5, 4.5, and 4-star reads!

Jackie is a HUGE fan of Jenna Bush Hager’s picks for that reason. Even the books we haven’t read yet are still scattered across our homes waiting for their moment to shine.

So check out the ranked Read with Jenna book list below and come back monthly to see the newest picks and updated rankings!

For more Celebrity Book Clubs, Ranked, check out this post.

Read with Jenna Book List
2023 Read with Jenna Book Club List: The Best Books Ranked 44

Table of Contents

October 2023 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick

how to say babylon

How to Say Babylon by Safiya Sinclair

October 2023 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick

With echoes of Educated and Born a CrimeHow to Say Babylon is the stunning story of the author’s struggle to break free of her rigid Rastafarian upbringing, ruled by her father’s strict patriarchal views and repressive control of her childhood, to find her own voice as a woman and poet.

Throughout her childhood, Safiya Sinclair’s father, a volatile reggae musician and militant adherent to a strict sect of Rastafari, became obsessed with her purity, in particular, with the threat of what Rastas call Babylon, the immoral and corrupting influences of the Western world outside their home. He worried that womanhood would make Safiya and her sisters morally weak and impure, and believed a woman’s highest virtue was her obedience.

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2023 Read with Jenna Book Club List: The Best Books Ranked 45

5 Star Picks From The Jenna Bush Hager Book Club


Maame by Jessica George

February 2023 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick

This story about Maddie, known as Maame to her family, was immersive and beautifully complex. Dealing with friendships, racism, familial obligations, and then grief, this story swept me away. Maddie lives in London as the primary caretaker of her father who has Parkinson’s. Her mother spends most of her time in Ghana.

I felt fiercely protective of Maddie while reading this book. There were times I wanted to swoop in to relieve some of the burdens of this wonderful character with a heart of gold. But it was more rewarding to see Maddie finding her inner strength and learning to prioritize herself and her dreams.

I can’t recommend this coming-of-age book about grief enough – especially as a book for book clubs. It’s one of the best books of 2023 and a great pick for a list of book club books. This is one of the heavier books in our beach reads 2023 post, but the list would not be complete without it. This is also one of the best novels about Africa I have ever read.

Solita and more Read with Jenna Book Club Picks

Solito by Javier Zamora

September 2022 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick

I was blown away by Javier Zamora’s memoir about his solo journey to America. At just 9-years-old, he traversed 3,000 miles, to reunite with his parents in America.

While his grandpa accompanies him for the beginning of his journey, they soon have to part ways and he is left in the care of the adults traveling with him on his journey.

This book about immigration is one that is seared into my memory. I was so grateful for the mother on the journey that took him in as her own. Frustrated, sorrowful, and ultimately joy were all emotions I felt while reading this book. Its a best book of 2022 pick for me for sure.

Remarkably Bright Creatures

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

May 2022 Read with Jenna Book List Pick

I haven’t read a novel with as much heart as this one in quite some time.

Elderly, recently widowed Tova loves her job cleaning the aquarium in town in the quiet of the night, especially because of her fondness for Marcellus, the octopus. She finds solace in the aquarium as it makes her feel closer to her son, Erik – a marine life lover – who disappeared on a boat when he was 18.

But when she hurts herself and is unable to return to work at full capacity, she grows close with her replacement, Cameron, a young man newly arrived in town looking for his birth mother.

Meanwhile, Marcellus knows what really happened to Erik and he wants to help Tova find the closure she needs. His narration is interspersed with Tova and Cameron’s for a story that is compelling, heartwarming, and utterly unique.

I will be shoving this book into the hands of everyone who asks for a book recommendation. I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s my favorite book of the year so far.

Black Cake

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

February 2022 Read With Jenna Book List Pick

I absolutely loved this book that is a story about love, family and acceptance. It captured me from the first page with the story and the writing.

When Eleanor Bennett dies, she leaves a voice recording for her two children Benny and Byron. She wants to tell them things about her life that she could not say when she was alive.

While listening to their mother’s story, Byron and Benny learn about their mother, their family, and about themselves. They try to piece their relationship back together. The novel looks at everyone’s life in the present and in the past.

The Family

The Family by Naomi Krupitsky

November 2021 Read with Jenna Book List Pick

I can see why this was chosen for the Read with Jenna Book Club. This historical fiction is unlike anything I’ve read before.

Set in the 30s and 40s in Red Hook, NY, this is the story of two girls born into the Italian Mafia. Sophia and Antonia are the best of friends, neighbors, and daughters of local mob members.

The story spans their childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood as they navigate their relationships with each other and “The Family.”

It was captivating and wonderful to learn about lives of the women in the crime family.

black buck

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

January 2021 Read with Jenna Book List Pick

Thanks to HMH Books and Libro.fm for my review copy. Black Buck was everything I thought it would be and more! At times this book reminded me of the subtle racism in Such a Fun Age but it was also reminiscent of the systemic racism in The Nickel Boys. And then there was the whole Wolf of Wall Street portion that literally had me picturing Leo screaming on the trading room floor.⁣ It was both entertaining and thought-provoking. 5 stars.

For more, check out our ultimate list of best historical fiction books


Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore

April 2021 Read with Jenna Book Club List Pick

I don’t want to say I loved this book, because the subject matter is gritty and dark, and yet I found myself enjoying it deeply.⁣ I loved the unconventional friendships and the stark look at racist double standards in equal measure.⁣

When 14-year-old, Hispanic, Gloria is raped by an older white man, the town of Odessa reacts strongly. Many people take one side, few take the other. ⁣ This story is dark but filled with hope. I connected to many of the characters and their struggles. It’s set in 1976, but quite honestly it reads very true today.⁣

This book was a halfway top 20 pick of 2020 for Kirsten, even though it eventually was left off the best of the year list.

A Woman is no Man

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

May 2019 Read with Jenna Book List Pick

The abuse suffered by the women in the book was heartwrenching.  It looks at three generations of Palestinian-American women and their struggles to bloom and become independent. 

I am shocked at the treatment of these women.  Isra is a 17-year-old girl in Palestine entertaining suitors.  She finds herself betrothed and off to live in the United States with a new husband that she has met only a few times. 

In New York, 17-year-old Deya wants to go to college before she is married,  Her grandmother Fareeda is insistent that she be married first. Rum does an unbelievable job telling this story. 

dear edward

Dear Edward by Anne Napolitano

January 2020 Read with Jenna Book List Pick

The minute I read the first page, I was immediately captured. I love the way this book was written. 

It is about one boy who survives a plane crash and that crash happens within the first few pages of the book  But the book moves back and forth between the plane flight and the aftermath so that you get to know the people on the flight and their stories.

Nothing to See here and more Read with Jenna Book Club List Picks

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

November 2019 Read by Jenna Book Club Pick

There is so much that I loved about this book.  It is such a feel-good book that is more than what it seems.  It is well-written and funny and made our top books of 2019 list.

The story is about a woman who becomes a nanny for two children who start on fire when they get mad.  There is wonderful humor in this book that is centered around strong and beautiful relationships.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.⁣

Click HERE to check out more from our Ultimate List of Feel Good Books

Transcendent Kingdom and others on the Read with Jenna book club list
2023 Read with Jenna Book Club List: The Best Books Ranked 46

4.5 Star Picks From The Read with Jenna Book List

Chain gang all stars

Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

May 2023 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick

This book was a doozy in the most thought-provoking way. The story is about the stars of Chain-Gang All-Stars, the reality tv show that pits prisoners against each other in gladiator-type fights to the death.

Thurwar and Staxxx are stars of the show, brutally killing anyone they come up against, but as Thurwar gets ready to win her freedom after 3 years on TV, the creatures of the show throw many hurdles in her path.

This searing look at racism and classism feels highly relevant to today’s world when a show like this could easily exist in some states. The reality tv book was so unique. Even days later I can’t stop thinking about the all-stars, the protesters fighting for their rights, and the stunning conclusion to this book. I’ve been thinking about it all year, so it’s clearly a best books of 2023 pick!

The Measure

The Measure by Nikki Erlick

July 2022 Read With Jenna Book List Pick

This is one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. One day everyone in the world over the age of 22 wakes up to find a string on their doorstep. It’s soon clear that the length of one’s string determines the length of their life.

Soon short stringers are being discriminated against around the globe which begs the question – what is the true measure of a valuable life? This would be a fabulous book for a book club. There is so much to talk about!

The Lincoln Highway

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

October 2021 Read with Jenna Book List Pick

Once again, Amor Towles writes an incredible, character driven-story that had me marveling at his writing ability.

The story is all about Emmett and his 8-year-old brother, Billy, and their quest to get to California to start a new life following the death of their father. Along for the ride are the scheming Duchess and his sidekick.

Their journey intertwines in this fast-moving character study of the 4 boys. It was a touch too long, but still a wonderful story from a gifted writer.

Beautiful Country

Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang

September 2021 Read with Jenna Book List Pick

A moving memoir of life as a Chinese immigrant in America. Qian and her family moved to America for opportunity, but hurdle after hurdle is thrown in their way.

As her parents try to put food on the table, we learn about the immigrant experience through the eyes of a Qian as child. From her near constant hunger to trying to acclimate to her new school system, Wang writes in a way that makes the reader feel what she felt.

Truly a moving account of her early life. I challenge anyone to read this and not wonder how broken our immigration system is.

Transcendent Kingdom and more Read with Jenna Book Club List Picks

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

September 2020 Read with Jenna Book List Pick

Covering drug addiction, immigration, racism, and more, this story is as entertaining as it is stimulating. Its discussion of drug addiction’s impact on the larger family unit was reminiscent of Long Bright River.

I also kept having to remind myself that it was a fictional story and not a memoir because the emotion and knowledge expressed in the book were so believable.⁣

The Dutch House and more Read with Jenna Book Club List Picks

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

October 2019 Read with Jenna Book List Pick

Ann Patchett has done it again with this tale of sibling devotion. Danny and Maeve are victims of an abandoned mother and father who all but ignores them.

Danny narrates the story of their lives as it ties into The Dutch House – a storied mansion that their father purchased in Elkins Park. This home is the blessing and curse of their lives.

The sign of their father’s success and what ultimately breaks up their family. Emotional and complex, this book will be on our best of 2019 list for sure.

a burning
2023 Read with Jenna Book Club List: The Best Books Ranked 47

4 Star Picks From The Read with Jenna Book List

The Celebrants by Steven Rowley

The Celebrants by Steven Rowley

June 2023 Read With Jenna Book Club Pick

This is a story of friendship that has lasted decades, cemented in stone when one of their best friends died by suicide shortly before college graduation. Never wanting to face the loss of each other or doubts of how much they mean to one another happen again, the friends make a pact.

Whenever any of them is at their lowest, they will call for a living funeral. One that will allow them to see how long they will be missed. It’s been 5 years since the last funeral, and now Jordan has a secret that might change everything.

Steven Rowley writes with wit and humor as we see the lowest point in each character’s life when the previous funerals are reflected on. But he really shines, in the final chapters when these friends help Jordan and his partner grieve. It’s a lovely book about grief and friendship.

The Whalebone Theatre and more October 2022 celebrity book club spoilers

The Whalebone Theatre by Joanna Quinn

October 2022 Read with Jenna Book List Pick

This family saga tells the story of Christobel and her siblings as they grow up from children playing at the Whalebone Theatre to young adults navigating WWII.

I found Christobel to be an enchanting protagonist as I watched her develop into a strong woman. From theatre director to a spy on the front lines of war, her journey was one that I eagerly devoured.

the impossible things

These Impossible Things by Salma El-Wardany

June 2022 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick

Well, this story is a doozy. It’s a book club book worth discussing with friends, which makes sense because the heart of the story is female friendships.

Malak, Kees, and Jenna have been besties since childhood, but this story focuses on their young adulthood and their respective romantic relationships.

There is so much meat in this story to discuss – the expectations put on Muslim women, the difficulty of having (or hiding) a non-muslim partner, the call to leave Europe, and the balance of cultural traditions verse modern life. I can’t recommend this story enough. It’s one of the best books of 2022 for sure.

Hell of a Book and more Read with Jenna Book Club List

Hell of a Book by Jason Mott

July 2021 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick

There are so many layers to this book that is a book about a fictional author and his book “Hell of a Book”.  I can see why Jenna chose this book as her July 2021 pick.

The novel tells the story of Soot- a young black boy in a rural town. As we hear the story of Soot we also have the author talking to “The Kid”, a young black boy who may of may not be invisible.

The description of the book does not do it justice. It is a powerful and poignant commentary on family, children, and the lengths that parents will go to in order to protect their black children. This book is haunting.

And you can check out our list of Best Books for Book Clubs with 52 amazing picks.

A Burning and more Read with Jenna Book Club List Picks

A Burning by Megha Majumbar

June 2020 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick

After a terrorist attack at a train station in India leaves a woman wrongfully accused of being a Muslim extremist, her world is turned upside down.

Two other characters’ stories intersect with hers to offer us a searing look at modern India. I’ll be thinking about this debut for a while.

What's Mine and Yours and more Read with Jenna Book Club List Picks

What’s Mine and Yours by Naima Coster

March 2021 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick

What a story. Sadly relevant still in today’s world, this story covers a time when a school district in North Carolina decides to bus black children from a poorer area into the white wealthy high school.

Told across 3 timelines, we see how the decision impacts two families on either side of the divide. How entwined will they become? How entwined were they in the past? and how will all of it affect their future?

Thought-provoking and relevant, this would be an excellent book club pick.

All Adults here Read with Jenna Book Club Pick

All Adults Here by Emma Straub

May 2020 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick

There is something about this book that makes it so easy to read and easy to love.  Every character in this book is perfectly flawed.  They are funny and relatable. When Astrid Strick witnesses an accident,  her life gets turned upsidedown.  She starts to think about her life, her children, and her parenting.  She questions if she has inadvertently ruined the life of her three grown children who all have issues in their own ways.  This book is not all light and funny- it deals with some heavier topics.  But, it is the perfect mix of life that makes it so easy to read.

3.5 Star Picks From The Read with Jenna Book List

Amazing Grace Adams

Amazing Grace Adams by Fran Littlewood

September 2023 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick

The premise of this book is so fascinating – a perimenopausal woman, is going through an epic midlife crisis and we get to see flashbacks of the previous months as she tries to win back her daughter on her 16th birthday – leaving chaos in her wake.

I wanted to root for Grace Adams the entire time while reading this book, but I never really liked her! I liked her gumption, her determination to win back her daughter, and the ZERO fucks given about society’s standards, but mostly, I found her to be annoying!

I loved the premise, but ultimately this character-driven book fell short because I just didn’t love Grace.

July 2023 Read with Jenna book club pick

Banyan Moon by Thao Thai

July 2023 Read With Jenna Book Club Pick

Minh, Ann’s grandmother, has died leaving her home to Ann and her mother, right during a time when Ann’s life is in upheaval. She just found out her long-term boyfriend is cheating on her and she’s now pregnant with his baby.

Traveling back to Florida to see the Banyan Tree house, Ann also has a chance to reconnect with her estranged mother, Huơng or sever the tie to her roots completely.

I loved Ann’s journey to self-discovery and the flashbacks that told Minh’s life story and how she immigrated from Vietnam. My only caveat is that the ending wasn’t all I wanted it to be. It was good but left time wanting more from this family sage.

sam by allegra

Sam by Allegra Goodman

January 2023 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick

This is the coming-of-age story of Sam, from 7 years old until about 19 as she navigates life where she doesn’t quite fit in with her peers. She lives with her mom and younger brother, while her dad flits in and out of her life depending on if his addiction is under control.

As she grows up, Sam falls into rock climbing, scaling buildings and walls, sometimes competing on teams, and always trying to find her place in the world.

As a mom, it was so interesting to see the world through Sam’s eyes. I sympathized with her struggles but also wanted to get in there and mom her myself! I did find the closure I wanted for her at the end of the book and I was proud of her as if she was someone I actually knew!

The Cloisters and more November 2022 celebrity book club spoilers

The Cloisters by Katy Hays

November 2022 Read With Jenna Book Club Pick

Ann Stilwell is desperate to escape her small town and her painful past. She arrives in New York City where she is supposed to spend her summer working as a curatorial associate at the Met. When she arrives, she is informed her supervisor is gone for the summer and she does not have a job. Luckily, she is able to get an assignment with The Cloisters, a gothic museum, that is known for its medieval art collection.

Ann suddenly finds herself entwined with a small group of students with secrets of their won. When she finds a 15th-century deck of tarot cards, she is reluctant to share her findings and this starts a dangerous game that Ann is not prepared for. This is one of the dark academia books about secret societies you don’t want to miss.

bright burning things

Bright Burning Things by Lisa Harding

December 2021 Read with Jenna Book List Pick

Sonya is going through a struggle with addiction while trying to raise her 4-year-old son, Tommy. Told entirely in first-person from Sonya’s point of view, this story is an emotional look at the inner mind of an addict struggling to get help.

While Sonya’s heart is in the right place, the gut-wrenching story about trying to panic while an addict was hard to read at times. 

It’s a rocky road as she struggles to recover, but it ends on a hopeful note. This one would be a great book for book clubs to discuss. I also LOVED listening to it on audio, the narrator really nailed the cadence of Sonya’s thoughts.

Malibu Rising and other June 2021 Novel Ideas

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

June 2021 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick

Nina Riva is having her annual summer party that is famous for its epic scale and exclusivity. But this year, the party will end with devastation.

Nina and her siblings are famous children of one of the biggest rock stars of all time and they each have their secrets.

I have loved the last two books by Taylor Jenkins Reid so much that I often recommend them to friends for their universal appeal. I had high hopes for this book but it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. I enjoyed the book but I felt that it was a little drawn out at times.

Thank you Libro.fm for my copy of this book. All opinions are my own

Evvie Drake

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

July 2019 Read with Jenna Book List Pick

I just adored this book.  It was such a sweet and light romance.  When Evvie’s husband dies unexpectedly in a car crash, she is still staying in her house a year later.  Everyone in her small town thinks that she is overcome with grief but in actuality, it is guilt.  Dean is a retired major league baseball pitcher who woke up one day and was unable to throw the ball over the plate.   When he moves into the apartment in the back of Evvie’s house the two become friends and agree to never talk about baseball or the dead husband.  This book was an easy and enjoyable read.

White Ivy and others on the Read with Jenna book club list
2023 Read with Jenna Book Club List: The Best Books Ranked 48

3 Star Picks From The Read with Jenna Book List

Memphis and more goodreads choice awards 2022 books

Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow

April 2022 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick

**UPDATED** The author came after another book reviewer who said she liked the book but the men were trash, they are the abusers in the story. She then proceeded to drag the reviewer publicly. I can’t condone that kind of bullying behavior so I’ve lowered my rating on this one.

This harrowing story of violence against a family of black women was too compelling to put down. As each generation faces its own abuse, the prevalence of the violence perpetrated against them and their continued resilience is nothing short of remarkable.

These women have faced lynched husbands, sexual assault, and domestic violence and now, in Joan, all they preserved for is made apparent. Will she be able to face her trauma and rise to be the acclaimed artist she is meant to be?

Not a book for the faint of heart, this story will have you thinking about it for days after reading.

White Ivy and other Read with Jenna Book Club List Picks

White Ivy by Susie Yang

November 2021 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick

Ivy is a Chinese American who from a very young age learns to steal and take what she wants.  She grew up in a poor family who sent her to a fancy private school where she met Gideon, the boy who would forever represent the epitome of perfection and success. 

And while the writing is good and there is an element of thrill to the book, the characters fell flat for me and there was never an element of surprise.  ⁣

There was nothing about Ivy that I could relate to which would have worked for me if there were surprising elements to her character. I felt like the characters we stereotypes of characters rather than characters with depth.  It affected the way I felt about the book and for me, it missed the mark.⁣

2 Star Picks From The Read with Jenna Book List

The School for Good Mothers

The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

Read with Jenna Book Club January 2022 Pick

This book, about a mother sent to a reform institute after making a parenting mistake, is billed as satire. The problem was that it made me equal parts uneasy and angry.

The “school” she was sent to simulates parenting under extreme conditions in a way that is detrimental to the parents and the kids. I didn’t find it entertaining, but rather disturbing and anger provoking.

The scenarios and treatment of mothers and kids was strange and unreasonable. It was just not a great story for me at this point in the pandemic.

writers and lovers

Writers and Lovers by Lily King

March 2020 Read with Jenna Book List Pick

I had high hopes for this book because I loved Euphoria.  Although this was well written, I found it slow-moving and I had little emotional connection to the characters. 

I thought I would love a book about writers but I just could not get into the story.

The Last Romantics

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin

March 2019 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick

I waited a while to listen to this story because I had heard so many mixed reviews. The set-up of a famous poet in her 100s finally revealing the story of who Luna was extraneous to the book, but the story of a girl, her family, and her life was moderately compelling.

If this doesn’t sound like a resoundingly positive review it’s because it wasn’t. The story was enjoyable but forgettable all in one. It was fine. The writing was nice but it just never really got my attention

Books on The Read with Jenna Book Club List We Still Need to Read

What is your favorite novel from the Jenna Bush Hager book club? Which of Jenna’s books are you adding to your TBR?

For more celebrity book clubs ranked, take a look at this post!

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  1. I loved Solito byJavier Zamora. It was so well written through the thoughts and eyes of a nine year old, it captivated me. In a way it is about all of the Americans whose ancestors came to this country. Everyone was looking for a better life!