Former First Daughters Jenna and Barbara Bush say they love to read guilty pleasure books together, especially mysteries like Nelson DeMille's The Lion's Game and Paula Hawkins' Into the Water

By Tierney McAfee
October 25, 2017 03:57 PM
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Is there anything better than digging into a good book? For twins Jenna and Barbara Bush, it’s reading a good book together!

The former first daughters, 35, tell PEOPLE and EW’s “Shelf Life” series that they love to indulge together in guilty pleasure reads, especially mysteries like Nelson DeMille’s The Lion’s Game and Paula Hawkins’ Into the Water.

“We love to read a good mystery when we just want to forget about everything,” says Jenna Bush Hager.

“And we like to read at the same time, so that we have someone to talk to about where we are in the book, and what might be going on,” adds Barbara.

The sisters’ informal book club is pretty exclusive but their dad, former President George W. Bush, was recently welcomed into the fold, reading Into the Water along with his daughters.

He read it “because we were so into it, it’s all we could talk about,” says Barbara.

Credit: Nathan R. Congleton

Jenna and Barbara, who just released their new memoir, Sisters First, also revealed their favorite childhood books, which included Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.

“It was a book that my grandmother read to my mom, then she read to us, and I loved those women,” says Jenna. “We wanted to be part of that large clan of women.”

Another favorite was Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard.

“When we were even younger than that, we really liked Ms. Nelson is Missing, which is an illustrated book about a teacher who goes missing. We loved it,” Barbara says. “I think because our mom was a teacher and we really wanted to be teachers when we were little. We loved our teachers.”

As they grew into young women, the sisters developed different reading interests. They recall perusing the Sweet Valley High and Baby-Sitters Club series in hopes of learning about sex.

“I think we read The Baby-Sitter’s Club, Sweet Valley High expectedly, hoping for some sort of make-out sessions,” Jenna confesses.

Mary Anne vs. Logan, remember that one?” she adds, referencing two characters who had a romantic relationship in The Baby-Sitters Club. “They were never racy enough for us.”

Summer Sisters by young-adult author Judy Blume offered more titillating fare.

“It’s an adult book by Judy Blume — that we read before we were adults,” the sisters say with a laugh. “And then again as adults.”