‘Today Show’: Jenna Bush Hunter focuses on female empowerment for May book club pick


The Today Show’s Jenna Bush Hager has just unveiled her latest selection for her popular “Read with Jenna” book club. Hager’s May selections spotlight female protagonists and are sure to engage and inspire readers.

Reads with Jenna selects “Great Circle” for May 2021.

Announcing her selection of Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead, Hager was excited to share her May selection on Today. The novel revolves around Marian Graves and her passion for aviation. After being rescued from a sinking ocean liner as a toddler in 1914, Marian drops out of school at the young age of 14 to follow her dream of flying.

When her paths cross with a wealthy smuggler willing to finance her flying lessons and an airplane, Marian enters into an arrangement that will repay her indefinitely. Still, she is able to tackle her ultimate goal of flying over the North and South Poles.

Fast-forward a century later, where Hadley Baxter is cast to play Marian in a film depicting the pilot’s disappearance in Antarctica. Hoping to redefine herself as an actress after being pigeonholed by Hollywood, Hadley finds that her own destiny is intertwined with Marian’s.

@JennaBushHager reveals Maggie Shipstead’s “Great Circle” as her next #ReadWithJenna book pick! pic.twitter.com/Z6SEnnrVGS

– TODAY (@TODAYshow) May 3, 2021

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Jenna Bush Hager praises book author Maggie Shipstead.

Great circle is not the first novel by Shipstead that Hager has read, and she shares that she has been following the New York Times bestselling author’s work for some time.

“I’ve been a fan of Maggie Shipstead for a while,” Hager said, according to Today.com. “I read her book ‘Seating Arrangements’ and I just love her writing style.”

As the mother of three, the Today star deliberately chose a book with her two daughters in mind to inspire her to push boundaries in her own life.

“More than ever, I love reading about women who are forging their own path,” Hager explained. “As a mother of two little girls and a boy, I believe it’s important to highlight fictional and non-fictional stories of struggling, independent women who don’t conform to what society tells us to do.”

Maggie Shipstead placed a high value on accuracy in ‘Great Circle.’

Shipstead actually traveled to each location she referenced in the novel to give the story vivid detail and accuracy.

“I wanted to be very specific about the places I used because she (Marian) would observe them well,” Shipstead noted. “I wanted to show some of the diversity.”

The author also has a penchant for all things Hollywood, which she explored through the character of Hadley.






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“Hadley, of course, is very different in some ways,” Shipstead commented. “She shows how much women are under scrutiny in the public eye and how, as a woman, you can never be quite right in some people’s eyes.”

The author received high praise from Hager, who appreciated the breadth of characters and time periods in the novel.

“I think both women, though flawed, represent how women can be their own people, and how we can all find ourselves in the stories of those who came before us,” Hager said. “It’s far-reaching – it goes from the early 1900s to the present day. I’m not sure I’ve ever highlighted such an ambitious novel.”


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