100 books like Everything You Ever Wanted

By Jillian Lauren,

Here are 100 books that Everything You Ever Wanted fans have personally recommended if you like Everything You Ever Wanted. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Unnatural Selection: A Memoir of Adoption and Wilderness

Vanessa McGrady Author Of Rock Needs River: A Memoir About a Very Open Adoption

From my list on adoption and what it means to be a family.

Why am I passionate about this?

I don’t just write stories, I study them. I’ve noticed that nearly every major hero/ine’s journey and epic tale has an adoption component. From Bible stories and Greek myths (adoption worked out well for Moses, not so much for Oedipus) to Star Wars through This Is Us, we humans are obsessed with origin stories. And it’s no wonder: “Where do I come from?” and “Where do I belong?” are questions that confound and comfort us from the time we are tiny until we take our final breath. As an adoptive mother and advocate for continuing contact with birth families, I love stories about adoption, because no two are alike. They give us light and insight into how families are created and what it means to be a family—by blood, by love, and sometimes, the combination of the two.

Vanessa's book list on adoption and what it means to be a family

Vanessa McGrady Why did Vanessa love this book?

This beautifully told tale of an adoptee searching for her original family is set against her ongoing relationship to the Southwest’s most awe-inspiring terrain, and the people who bring her there. I loved this book because it showed her evolution as a wilderness lover, romantic partner, and mother as she navigated fitting into various incarnations of family, which felt just as perilous, frustrating, and rewarding as finding the right footholds in the natural world. While we are all from Mother Earth, our earthly parents can be critical to a deeper understanding of who we are as people.

By Andrea Ross,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Unnatural Selection as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Adopted at birth, Andrea Ross grew up inhabiting two ecosystems: one was her tangible, adoptive family, the other her birth family, whose mysterious landscape was hidden from her. In this coming-of-age memoir, Ross narrates how in her early twenties, while working as a ranger in Grand Canyon National Park, she embarked on a journey to discover where she came from and, ultimately, who she was. After many missteps and dead ends, Ross uncovered her heartbreaking and inspiring origin story and began navigating the complicated turns of reuniting with her birth parents and their new families. Through backcountry travel in the…


Book cover of Dear Birthmother: Thank You for Our Baby

Vanessa McGrady Author Of Rock Needs River: A Memoir About a Very Open Adoption

From my list on adoption and what it means to be a family.

Why am I passionate about this?

I don’t just write stories, I study them. I’ve noticed that nearly every major hero/ine’s journey and epic tale has an adoption component. From Bible stories and Greek myths (adoption worked out well for Moses, not so much for Oedipus) to Star Wars through This Is Us, we humans are obsessed with origin stories. And it’s no wonder: “Where do I come from?” and “Where do I belong?” are questions that confound and comfort us from the time we are tiny until we take our final breath. As an adoptive mother and advocate for continuing contact with birth families, I love stories about adoption, because no two are alike. They give us light and insight into how families are created and what it means to be a family—by blood, by love, and sometimes, the combination of the two.

Vanessa's book list on adoption and what it means to be a family

Vanessa McGrady Why did Vanessa love this book?

The pioneering godmother of the open-adoption movement in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, Silber did ground-shaking work to bring transparency to the adoption process, which ultimately, is better for the mental health of all parties involved. In Dear Birthmother, a primer of sorts, she helps adoptive parents understand the love, humanity, and loss intrinsic to placing a child for adoption. I love this book because it shines a light on the much-deserved compassion to these women who give up so much in search of a better life for themselves and their children.

By Kathleen Silber, Phyllis Speedlin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dear Birthmother as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the third revised edition of the open adoption classic recommended by the Child Welfare League of America. Gently provocative, warm and convincing, this open adoption guide includes actual letters between adoptive parents and birthparents, and between the latter and the children they have


Book cover of God and Jetfire: Confessions of a Birth Mother

Vanessa McGrady Author Of Rock Needs River: A Memoir About a Very Open Adoption

From my list on adoption and what it means to be a family.

Why am I passionate about this?

I don’t just write stories, I study them. I’ve noticed that nearly every major hero/ine’s journey and epic tale has an adoption component. From Bible stories and Greek myths (adoption worked out well for Moses, not so much for Oedipus) to Star Wars through This Is Us, we humans are obsessed with origin stories. And it’s no wonder: “Where do I come from?” and “Where do I belong?” are questions that confound and comfort us from the time we are tiny until we take our final breath. As an adoptive mother and advocate for continuing contact with birth families, I love stories about adoption, because no two are alike. They give us light and insight into how families are created and what it means to be a family—by blood, by love, and sometimes, the combination of the two.

Vanessa's book list on adoption and what it means to be a family

Vanessa McGrady Why did Vanessa love this book?

Deciding to place a child for adoption is one of the most excruciating decisions in the human experience. When Amy Seek, a promising architecture student, becomes pregnant, she’s not yet ready to become a parent. But she’s also not ready, completely, to hand over her child to a perfectly lovely family. Her tale of love, heartbreak, and acceptance is a reminder to parents and non-parents of all circumstances that there are lots of ways to make a family—and in this case, it was the best, most perfectly imperfect option. I think this is a really important book for everyone in the adoption triad (birth parents, adoptive parents, adoptees) to read, because it really gets up close and uncomfortably personal with the struggle some birth mothers undergo, despite the unlimited love they have for their babies. 

By Amy Seek,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked God and Jetfire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

God and Jetfire is a mother's account of her decision to surrender her son in an open adoption and of their relationship over the twelve years that follow. Facing an unplanned pregnancy at twenty-two, Amy Seek and her ex-boyfriend begin an exhaustive search for a family to raise their child. They sift through hundreds of "Dear Birth Mother" letters, craft an extensive questionnaire, and interview numerous potential couples. Despite the immutability of the surrender, it does little to diminish Seek's newfound feelings of motherhood. Once an ambitious architecture student, she struggles to reconcile her sadness with the hope that she's…


Book cover of Instant Mom

Vanessa McGrady Author Of Rock Needs River: A Memoir About a Very Open Adoption

From my list on adoption and what it means to be a family.

Why am I passionate about this?

I don’t just write stories, I study them. I’ve noticed that nearly every major hero/ine’s journey and epic tale has an adoption component. From Bible stories and Greek myths (adoption worked out well for Moses, not so much for Oedipus) to Star Wars through This Is Us, we humans are obsessed with origin stories. And it’s no wonder: “Where do I come from?” and “Where do I belong?” are questions that confound and comfort us from the time we are tiny until we take our final breath. As an adoptive mother and advocate for continuing contact with birth families, I love stories about adoption, because no two are alike. They give us light and insight into how families are created and what it means to be a family—by blood, by love, and sometimes, the combination of the two.

Vanessa's book list on adoption and what it means to be a family

Vanessa McGrady Why did Vanessa love this book?

First of all, Nia Vardalos is just hilarious. She could write an Ikea assembly brochure and it would probably be side-splitting. But in the book, she tells about being a rising star (a great story on its own) who had it all – except a baby. After a grueling battle with infertility, she eventually came around to the idea of adoption, and started to learn more about the fost-adopt process of taking an older child who is unlikely to reunite with their original family. With great heart, she tells the roller-coaster story of bringing a 3-year-old with attachment challenges into her life—and the inevitable universality of motherhood. “Nothing prepared me for the life I would feel for my child. Nothing prepared me for how quickly it happened for me. And here’s what I just figure out now: no one is ever prepared. In a way, we’re all instant moms.” She’s…

By Nia Vardalos,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Instant Mom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Instant Mom, Nia Vardalos, writer and star of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, tells her hilarious and poignant road-to-parenting story that eventually leads to her daughter and prompts her to become a major advocate for adoption. Moments after Nia Vardalos finds out she has been nominated for an Oscar for the screenplay for My Big Fat Greek Wedding, she is alone and en route to a fertility clinic, trying yet again for a chance at motherhood. Vardalos chronicles her attempts to have a baby, and how she tries everything-from drinking jugs of green mud tea, to acupuncture, to working…


Book cover of Comfort & Joy

Kristen James Author Of More Than Memories

From my list on romantic dramas with unique storylines.

Why am I passionate about this?

I really enjoy coming up with fresh, unique storylines. I have to applaud books that have a new approach and surprise us—it’s not easy for authors to do! The perfect story, to me, is romantic drama and family life all entwined. Family is everything, whether it’s the family we’re born into, one created by marriage, or one by random circumstances. I enjoy reading and writing romance in the context of family drama because it’s the core of who we are. The best stories have romance and also tell about a family coming together. 

Kristen's book list on romantic dramas with unique storylines

Kristen James Why did Kristen love this book?

I spotted this novel in the supermarket and bought it for the pretty cover some years ago, and it introduced me to Kristin Hannah. I like getting into a story without really knowing the plot, and this was surprised the heck out of me! This sweet Christmas story is about rebuilding family and finding happiness and joy again. Joy leaves her life behind and finds herself deep in the rain forest in Washington, where she meets a sad little boy who lost his mother. The dad doesn’t know what to do. All three of them are hurting, and it’s magical when they start to heal together. It’s such a good, sweet story, and it’s still on my bookshelf.

By Kristin Hannah,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Comfort & Joy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Kristin Hannah is beloved by readers around the world for her unique blend of powerful emotion and exquisite storytelling. In Comfort & Joy, she offers a modern-day fairy tale—the story of a woman who gets a miraculous chance at happiness.

Joy Candellaro once loved Christmas more than any other time of the year. Now, as the holiday approaches, she is at a crossroads in her life; recently divorced and alone, she can’t summon the old enthusiasm for celebrating. So without telling anyone, she buys a ticket and boards a plane bound for the beautiful Pacific…


Book cover of Aftershocks: A Memoir

Susan Lewallen Author Of Distorted Vision

From my list on postcolonial Africa through the eyes of foreigners.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve lived and worked intensely in the medical field for over two decades in many countries in Africa. I’ve seen global health programs from the academic, research, developmental, and humanitarian viewpoints of both Africans and Europeans. It’s a complicated mix of politics, good intentions, and, sometimes, egos. There’s much to be learned from both fiction and nonfiction about the complexity of it all. 

Susan's book list on postcolonial Africa through the eyes of foreigners

Susan Lewallen Why did Susan love this book?

Nadia Owusu is the quintessential third culture kid, holder of a US passport, but born in Dar-es-Salaam to a Ghanaian father and an Armenian-American mother. Her UN-employed father moved his two daughters around through Kumasi (Ghana), Kampala (Uganda), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Rome (Italy), and the UK. Her mother left the family when Nadia was three years old and didn’t look back, save for a rare, short visit and some trinket gifts. Aftershocks is Ms. Owusu’s tribute to a loving father, but her upbringing was a shaky foundation that reverberated throughout her life, and provided the earthquake metaphor around which she structures her memoir. She weaves bits of political history and culture from the countries she lived in into her own story, comprised of the foreshocks, main shock, and aftershocks. It’s held together by beautiful prose descriptions, both of place and emotions.

By Nadia Owusu,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Aftershocks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the tradition of The Glass Castle, this “gorgeous” (The New York Times, Editors’ Choice) and deeply felt memoir from Whiting Award winner Nadia Owusu tells the “incredible story” (Malala Yousafzai) about the push and pull of belonging, the seismic emotional toll of family secrets, and the heart it takes to pull through.

“In Aftershocks, Nadia Owusu tells the incredible story of her young life. How does a girl—abandoned by her mother at age two and orphaned at thirteen when her beloved father dies—find her place in the world? This memoir is the story of Nadia creating her own solid…


Book cover of Ladder of Years

Nancy Crochiere Author Of Graceland

From my list on runaway moms.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a young working mom, I occasionally longed to follow the example of columnist Erma Bombeck and hide from my family in the car. Instead, I channeled the mayhem of family life into a humor column called “The Mother Load,” which detailed the day-to-day challenges of running a business while caring for two daughters, one husband, two guinea pigs, and a dancing rabbit. When I decided to pursue my life-long dream to write fiction, my debut novel was a humorous story about a mother-daughter-grandmother road trip/chase from Boston to Memphis. Although my writing doesn’t shy away from serious issues, I choose to see the world through a humorous and ultimately hopeful lens.

Nancy's book list on runaway moms

Nancy Crochiere Why did Nancy love this book?

While on a beach vacation, the forty-year-old mother/protagonist of this book, Delia Grinstead, walks away from her distant husband and three surly children – seemingly on a whim – to try out a new life.

Anne Tyler’s characters are unfailingly quirky, and Delia can be both frustrating and charming, but the book engagingly details the mid-life crisis of a woman eager to learn who she is.

By Anne Tyler,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Ladder of Years as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the beloved Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Breathing Lessons

"BALTIMORE WOMAN DISAPPEARS DURING FAMILY VACATION."

The headlines are all the same: Beloved mother and wife Delia Grinstead was last seen strolling down the Delaware shore, wearing only a bathing suit and carrying a beach tote with five hundred dollars tucked inside. To the best of her family's knowledge, she has disappeared without a trace. But Delia didn't disappear. She ran.

Exhausted with her routine and everyone else's plans for her, Delia needed an out, a chance to make a new life for herself and to…


Book cover of The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois

Virginia Pye Author Of The Literary Undoing of Victoria Swann

From my list on a woman writer finding her own voice.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love novels that show female characters finding their way in life, and especially women who use writing to help themselves to grow and evolve. Finding my own voice through writing has been my way of staking my claim in the world. It hasn’t always been easy for us to tell our stories, but when we do, we’re made stronger and more complete. The protagonist of my novel The Literary Undoing of Victoria Swann fights hard to tell her own story. I know something about being held back by male-dominated expectations and Victoria’s situation could easily take place today. But when women writers finally find their voices, the works they create are of great value. 

Virginia's book list on a woman writer finding her own voice

Virginia Pye Why did Virginia love this book?

A complex, deeply researched epic, The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois spans multiple generations of a Southern Black family, from slavery to the present.

The story takes place in several different worlds: an African village, the experience of Southern sharecroppers, sorority life at a Black college. Author Honoree Fanonne Jeffers creates a huge cast of sympathetic characters, especially the protagonist, Ailey Pearl Garfield.

I loved how Ailey’s character evolves through the years and settings until we understand that she has taken the many stories passed down to her and is using them in her PhD thesis, and that we are essentially reading her research. It’s such a clever way of weaving a woman writer’s tale into the story of many generations of a heroic family. 

By Honoree Fanonne Jeffers,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An instant New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today Bestseller • AN OPRAH BOOK CLUB SELECTION • ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2021 • WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FOR FICTION

A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: New York Times • Time • Washington Post • Oprah Daily • People • Boston Globe • BookPage • Booklist • Kirkus • Atlanta Journal-Constitution • Chicago Public Library

Finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel • Longlisted for the National Book Award for Fiction • Finalist for the Kirkus Prize for Fiction • Nominee for…


Book cover of Sister Noon

Mary Volmer Author Of Reliance, Illinois

From my list on badass 19th century American women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I don’t write about well-behaved women. I prefer rebels and outcasts, women who, by choice or circumstance, live outside of social norms. 19th-century American history is full of such women—if you know where to look. Hint: not in most public-school textbooks. They’re found, instead, in archives and libraries, in old newspapers and journals, in family letters and autobiographies. The characters in my most recent novel, Reliance, Illinois, were inspired by badass 19th-century women, such as Victoria Woodhull, Mary Livermore, and Olympia Brown. Each of the novels in the list below were inspired by or based on audacious women. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!  

Mary's book list on badass 19th century American women

Mary Volmer Why did Mary love this book?

This crazy quilt of a novel, set in San Francisco, chronicles the liberation of Lizzie, a forty-year-old spinster who is swept into the intrigues of the mysterious Mrs. Pleasant. Mrs. Pleasant, who works as a housekeeper, is rumored to be as rich as a railroad magnate, an angel of charity, a practitioner of voodoo, among other tantalizing (and some substantiated) possibilities.

As enthralled as Lizzie becomes with Mrs. Pleasant, what Lizzie discovers in this story is her own independence and authority. Several real historical figures, including Mary Ellen Pleasant, appear in the book. I love the way Fowler weaves fact with fiction, and how she places badass women at the center of the story.

By Karen Joy Fowler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sister Noon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Words were invented so lies could be told' Mary Ellen Pleasant

San Francisco in the 1890s is a town of contradictions, home to a respectable middle class, but with the Wild West lingering in the imagination, and even the behaviour, of some residents. Lizzie Hayes, a seemingly docile, middle-aged spinster, is praised for her volunteer work with the Ladies' Relief and Protection Society Home, or the Brown Ark. She doesn't know it, but she's waiting for the spark that will liberate her from convention.

When the wealthy and well-connected but ill-reputed Mary Ellen Pleasant shows up at the Brown Ark…


Book cover of Anywhere But Here

Deborah K. Shepherd Author Of So Happy Together

From my list on road trips with women in the driver’s seat.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the ‘60s, everyone was reading—or claiming to have read—Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. I faked reading it, to appear cool. The idea of a road trip, though—characters running away, running toward, or often both—and the self-discovery that ensues—was so intriguing, I made it the heart of the novel I first drafted decades ago. I wrote about a middle-aged woman who flees her life to find a lost love and her lost youth, then put the manuscript away. For 30 years. When I retired from my social work career, I pulled it from the closet, revised it, and became an author at 74. 

Deborah's book list on road trips with women in the driver’s seat

Deborah K. Shepherd Why did Deborah love this book?

When this astonishing debut novel about a complicated mother-daughter relationship came out, I wondered if the author had met my mother. Because Adele August believes there’s nothing for her in her small Wisconsin town, she sets off for Los Angeles with her twelve-year-old daughter and a dream—Ann will be a child star; Adele will make a wealthy marriage; they’ll live the lives they were meant to. Simpson’s writing is gorgeous: “My mother and I should have both been girls who stayed out on the porch a little longer than the rest… who strained to hear the long-distance trucks on the highway... girls who looked at the sky and wanted to go away… but who finally sighed, and calling the dog with a mixture of reluctance and relief, shut the door and went home.” Reality can’t live up to Adele’s delusions; mother-child roles are often reversed; but love underlies this tangled…

By Mona Simpson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Anywhere But Here as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A national bestseller—adapted into a movie starring Natalie Portman and Susan Sarandon—Anywhere But Here is the heart-rending tale of a mother and daughter. A moving, often comic portrait of wise child Ann August and her mother, Adele, a larger-than-life American dreamer, the novel follows the two women as they travel through the landscape of their often conflicting ambitions. A brilliant exploration of the perennial urge to keep moving, even at the risk of profound disorientation, Anywhere But Here is a story about the things we do for love, and a powerful study of familial bonds.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in women, California, and punk rock?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about women, California, and punk rock.

Women Explore 590 books about women
California Explore 365 books about California
Punk Rock Explore 44 books about punk rock