Bookworm’s Nest: Sarah Beth Durst’s Five Favorite YA Books

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sarah beth durstThere are few fantasy authors who have mastered the art of the standalone novel, but Sarah Beth Durst is among the best of them.

Durst is the author of Vessel and Ice and Conjured and Enchanted Ivy and a dozen other title that fantasy fans will recognize. Her newest is a middle grade novel called The Girl Who Could Not Dream, about a girl named Sophie who can bring dreams to life.

The Girl Who Could Not Dream releases on November 3. You can visit Durst’s website or follow her on Twitter or Tumblr.


I read a quote the other day from Louis L’Amour: “Once you have read a book you care about, some part of it is always with you.” I think that’s one of the reasons I love books. They can give you so much: adventure, peace, joy, laughter, catharsis, an escape, courage… So without further ado, here are five books (or series) that have given me things that I will keep with me always:

#5: The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

harry potter and the sorcerer's stone j k rowlingOkay, yes, technically this is MG, especially the first few books. Only the latter books are YA. But I feel like all top five lists should include Harry Potter. Even lists that aren’t about books. Top five favorite foods: raspberries, chocolate, pizza, crepes, and Harry Potter. Top five favorite animals: dolphins, manatees, cats, baby bunnies, and Harry Potter.

There’s just something about this series that taps into that universal This-Is-What-A-Story-Is feeling.

Star Wars does the same thing. Whenever anyone asks me what my favorite movie is, I always feel I should ask, “You mean, other than Star Wars?” To me, Star Wars is the definition of Story. It’s mythic. But back to books…

#4: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski and Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Both of these books can be described in one word: gorgeous. Both Marie and Laini use words beautifully. Their sentences sing, and it makes their stories magical. If you love language, you’ll love these two books.

#3: A Fistful of Sky by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

I love this book because it feels both magical and true. It’s about a girl without magic in a family of spellcasters and what happens when she suddenly develops a terrifying power. It’s also about family and growing up.

#2: The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

I have read this book so many times that I can close my eyes and taste the orange juice that Harry drinks in the first scene. It’s one of those books that’s entwined with my soul. It’s the quintessential desert fantasy, complete with the best training montage ever.

#1: Anything by Tamora Pierce

alanna the first adventure tamora pierceI first read Alanna when I was ten years old, right around the time I decided I wanted to be a writer, and I remember thinking to myself, “If Alanna can become a knight, I can become a writer.” Tamora Pierce’s books make you believe in your dreams.

I am particularly fond of the Protector of the Small quartet, which features Kel, a strong and smart character, who is the first girl to openly become a knight in Tortall. Tamora Pierce excels at writing true heroes.

Which books have given you things that you’ll keep with you always?

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