98 books like Unnatural Selection

By Andrea Ross,

Here are 98 books that Unnatural Selection fans have personally recommended if you like Unnatural Selection. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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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.

Who am I?

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.

Who am I?

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.

Who am I?

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 Everything You Ever Wanted: A Memoir

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.

Who am I?

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?

In this exquisitely written poem of a memoir, Jillian Lauren splays her heart wide open, on every page as she transforms from an addict whose used up most of her luck to a mother whose role requires great stores of grit, determination, and love. We’re right there with her as she and her husband decide to adopt a boy from Ethiopia, and we’re along for the bumpy, often painful, occasionally joyful, ride through the challenges of parenting this tiny person who has already lost so much, but has so much to give. Outside of motherhood, she’s so funny and interesting I kind of want to be best friends with her. Not in a weirdo-stalker way, though.

By Jillian Lauren,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Everything You Ever Wanted as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Best Memoir of 2015, "This memoir is compulsively readable and full of humor and heart."-AdoptiveFamilies.com

"A punk rock Scheherazade" (Margaret Cho) shares the zigzagging path that took her from harem member to PTA member...

In her younger years, Jillian Lauren was a college dropout, a drug addict, and an international concubine in the Prince of Brunei's harem, an experience she immortalized in in her bestselling memoir, SOME GIRLS. In her thirties, Jillian's most radical act was learning the steadying power of love when she and her rock star husband adopt an Ethiopian child with special needs. After Jillian loses…


Book cover of A Superior Death

Pamela Beason Author Of Endangered

From my list on women sleuths in wild places.

Who am I?

Nature is my passion. As an avid hiker, kayaker, snowshoer, and occasional scuba diver, nothing thrills me more than observing wild species in their native environments. Freedom from the constant noise of civilization helps maintain my sanity. I want to share my passion for the endless fascination and solace of nature with my readers, and I also enjoy using my ten years of experience as a private investigator to craft each mystery. And last but never least, I relish strong characters who must rely on their own ingenuity to solve problems, so using a setting where 911 cannot immediately deliver help is a key element in many of my stories. 

Pamela's book list on women sleuths in wild places

Pamela Beason Why did Pamela love this book?

Nevada Barr worked as a ranger in the National Park Service, and if you yearn to explore more national parks as much as I do, she’s definitely the mystery author to read, with 19 mysteries set in a variety of national parks. It’s difficult for me to choose a favorite, but this novel, the second in the Anna Pigeon series, features Isle Royale National Park, a little-visited treasure in the Great Lakes that I hope to explore one day. I’m also a scuba diver, so I especially appreciate the tense underwater scenes, as well as all the eccentric NPS characters that Barr portrays so well. You’ll enjoy this book even if you’re not a diver, as well as all the other national park settings in the series. Nevada Barr has a true gift for describing natural places and interesting people. 

By Nevada Barr,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Park ranger Anna Pigeon returns, in a mystery that unfolds in and around Lake Superior, in whose chilling depths sunken treasure comes with a deadly price. In her latest mystery, Nevada Barr sends Ranger Pigeon to a new post amid the cold, deserted, and isolated beauty of Isle Royale National Park, a remote island off the coast of Michigan known for fantastic deep-water dives of wrecked sailing vessels. Leaving behind memories of the Texas high desert and the environmental scam she helped uncover, Anna is adjusting to the cool damp of Lake Superior and the spirits and lore of the…


Book cover of Blind Descent

Becky Lomax Author Of Moon USA National Parks: The Complete Guide to All 63 Parks

From my list on US national parks from science to thrillers.

Who am I?

I grew up hiking and camping with my family in the national parks of Washington. Isn’t that what everyone did in summer? Later, I learned how wrong I was. That most people had never seen a glacier, stood on a mountaintop, walked through a rainforest, gazed at the size of a grizzly, skied past erupting geysers, or rafted a rushing river. These experiences have shaped who I am. I return to the haunts of national parks, from deserts to mountains and remote islands, because they wow me and feed my soul. 

Becky's book list on US national parks from science to thrillers

Becky Lomax Why did Becky love this book?

Last month, descending on the tour again of Lehman Caves at Great Basin National Park, I immediately felt the terror in Blind Descent creep into my head. Then, the park naturalist turned off the lights so we could experience utter black darkness—and my own dread grew larger. Barr’s mystery-thriller digs into the real fear in the cave depths, not like controlled spookiness on a tour. A fun read, Barr’s book captures what caving is all about…and the hidden dangers. If you plan on visiting Carlsbad Caverns, where this story is set, it’s a must-read. But it’s also equally good if you plan on touring caves at Mammoth, Great Basin, Sequoia, or Wind Cave National Parks. Once you’ve read it, the story will haunt you on every underground exploration.

By Nevada Barr,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Park ranger Anna Pigeon is enjoying the open spaces of Colorado when she receives an urgent call. A young woman has been injured while exploring a cave in New Mexico's Carlsbad Cavern Park. Before she can be pulled to safety, she sends for her friend Anna. Only one problem: a crushing fear of confined spaces has kept Anna out in the open her whole life.



Book cover of Ranger Confidential: Living, Working, And Dying In The National Parks

Andrew Vietze Author Of This Wild Land: Two Decades of Adventure as a Park Ranger in the Shadow of Katahdin

From my list on park rangers and the wild places they protect.

Who am I?

Andrew Vietze was five years old when he told his older sister that one day, he would be a park ranger. Twenty-eight years later, he put on his badge for the first time as a seasonal ranger in one of the premier wilderness areas in the East, Maine’s Baxter State Park. Home of Katahdin and the terminus of the Appalachian Trail, “Forever Wild” Baxter has no pavement, no electricity, no stores, no cell service. As a boy, Vietze imagined a life flying around in helicopters, rescuing hikers off mountaintops, fighting forest fires, chasing wilderness despoilers, and plucking people out of raging rivers. And he's spent the past twenty years doing just that.

Andrew's book list on park rangers and the wild places they protect

Andrew Vietze Why did Andrew love this book?

Andy Lankford reveals the kind of secrets the NPS probably doesn’t want you to know in Ranger Confidential. She worked twelve years as a ranger, and she takes readers behind the scenes at Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Denali. Did you know law enforcement park rangers are 12 times more likely to die on the job than an FBI agent? And that they’re assaulted more than any other federal officers? I didn’t either until I read this captivating book. I also learned that NPS rangers do everything we do at Baxter State Park—rescues, forest firefighting, enforcement, loon identification—just on a larger scale. Already a great work, Ranger Confidential will age into a classic, perhaps the be-all, end-all opus of ranger life. 

By Andrea Lankford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For twelve years, Andrea Lankford lived in the biggest, most impressive national parks in the world, working a job she loved. She chaperoned baby sea turtles on their journey to sea. She pursued bad guys on her galloping patrol horse. She jumped into rescue helicopters bound for the heart of the Grand Canyon. She won arguments with bears. She slept with a few too many rattlesnakes.

Hell yeah, it was the best job in the world! Fortunately, Andrea survived it.

In this graphic and yet surprisingly funny account of her and others' extraordinary careers, Lankford unveils a world in which…


Book cover of The Last Season

Andrew Vietze Author Of This Wild Land: Two Decades of Adventure as a Park Ranger in the Shadow of Katahdin

From my list on park rangers and the wild places they protect.

Who am I?

Andrew Vietze was five years old when he told his older sister that one day, he would be a park ranger. Twenty-eight years later, he put on his badge for the first time as a seasonal ranger in one of the premier wilderness areas in the East, Maine’s Baxter State Park. Home of Katahdin and the terminus of the Appalachian Trail, “Forever Wild” Baxter has no pavement, no electricity, no stores, no cell service. As a boy, Vietze imagined a life flying around in helicopters, rescuing hikers off mountaintops, fighting forest fires, chasing wilderness despoilers, and plucking people out of raging rivers. And he's spent the past twenty years doing just that.

Andrew's book list on park rangers and the wild places they protect

Andrew Vietze Why did Andrew love this book?

The Last Season recounts the disappearance of ranger Randy Morgenstern in California’s High Sierra. A legend in the NPS for his devotion to wild places, Morgenson spent more than 25 seasons as a backcountry ranger in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks before disappearing without a trace in 1996. An introspective sort who knew every corner of the territory he patrolled, Morgenson left behind a tantalizing mystery that writer Eric Blehm turns into a page-turning, psychological thriller. Did he fall off a cliff? Was he murdered? Did he take his own life? As a young ranger, I read this book late into the night under the hissing gas light of my duty station. We’ve had campers vanish in our wilderness—and a ranger die in the line of duty—so every page rang true. 

By Eric Blehm,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Last Season as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Destined to become a classic of adventure literature, The Last Season examines the extraordinary life of legendary backcountry ranger Randy Morgenson and his mysterious disappearance in California's unforgiving Sierra Nevada—mountains as perilous as they are beautiful. Eric Blehm's masterful work is a gripping detective story interwoven with the riveting biography of a complicated, original, and wholly fascinating man.


Book cover of Desert Solitaire

Maya Silver Author Of Moon Zion & Bryce: With Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Grand Staircase-Escalante & Moab

From my list on featuring the American Southwest desert.

Who am I?

Even though I’m from humid DC, I’ve been drawn to the desert since I first set foot there as a kid on a family road trip. Now, I’m lucky enough to live in Utah, home to some of the world’s most legendary desert landscapes. One reason I love the desert is the otherworldly scenery: uncanny arches, bizarre hoodoos, and sand dunes you could disappear into. Before your eyes, layers of geologic time unfold in epochs. The desert is a great place for contemplating the past and future—and for great adventures, with endless sandstone walls to climb, slick rock to bike, and sagebrush-lined trails to hike.

Maya's book list on featuring the American Southwest desert

Maya Silver Why did Maya love this book?

The late Edward Abbey might be a controversial figure, but you can’t write about desert literature without mentioning this iconic book.

In this book, Abbey captures his experience as a winter caretaker of Arches National Park (before it was a national park and before the road in was paved). In 18 chapters that read like short stories, he chronicles long days on horseback, jaw-dropping tales of flash floods, journeys up remote canyons, and more adventures that do an uncanny job of conveying the spirit of the desert and what it was like to explore it mid-century.

Abbey’s writing is blunt, colorful, and engaging, and this book is a romp of a read. 

By Edward Abbey,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Desert Solitaire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'My favourite book about the wilderness' Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild

In this shimmering masterpiece of American nature writing, Edward Abbey ventures alone into the canyonlands of Moab, Utah, to work as a seasonal ranger for the United States National Park Service.

Living out of a trailer, Abbey captures in rapt, poetic prose the landscape of the desert; a world of terracotta earth, empty skies, arching rock formations, cliffrose, juniper, pinyon pine and sand sage. His summers become spirit quests, taking him in search of wild horses and Ancient Puebloan petroglyphs, up mountains and across tribal lands, and down the…


Book cover of Confessions of a Barbarian: Selections from the Journals of Edward Abbey, 1951-1989

Sean Prentiss Author Of Finding Abbey: The Search for Edward Abbey and His Hidden Desert Grave

From my list on reads by or about to Edward Abbey.

Who am I?

I’ve been passionate about Edward Abbey since I read Desert Solitaire in 1994. By 2010, I decided to write a biography on Abbey, Finding Abbey: The Search for Edward Abbey and His Hidden Desert Grave, which allowed me to research and explore Abbey. I interviewed his great friends, including Jack Loeffler, Doug Peacock, Ken Sleight, and David Petersen. I visited Abbey’s special collections library and read his master’s thesis on anarchism and an unpublished novel. I visited his first home in Pennsylvania and many of his Desert Southwest homes. Along the way, I found the spirit of Abbey and the American Southwest. Finding Abbey won the National Outdoor Book Award.

Sean's book list on reads by or about to Edward Abbey

Sean Prentiss Why did Sean love this book?

Confessions of a Barbarian is an edited collection of Abbey’s private journals.

Across these pages, we get so many of the stories that never made it into an Ed Abbey novel or memoir. Instead, we see Abbey in all his glory and failures. We see Abbey at his emotional best and at his neediest. We see Abbey wrestling over anarchism, philosophy, and environmentalism. We see the complexity of a great writer and thinker.

Abbey’s “scribblings” offer some of the most complex and beautiful writing by Abbey and act, more or less, as his autobiography. 

By Edward Abbey, David Petersen (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A collection of excerpts from the private journals of an eccentric environmentalist features his notes, philosophies, and character sketches, chronicling his lifelong struggle to preserve the Southwestern wilderness. 20,000 first printing.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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