Your First Steps

Where to start?

And once you start, where do you go next?

These are the most common questions for people coming into the Expanded Universe (EU) of Star Wars books and comics (at least, they were for me). If you just count Canon, there are more than 40 books—with new titles hitting the shelves nearly every month. Meanwhile, there are hundreds of titles to choose from in Legends!

Collection of Star Wars Legends paperbacks
Image Credit: Youtini

It can be overwhelming for anyone who didn’t have the chance to get in on the ground floor and read everything as it came out. And let’s face it - that’s an awful lot of us.

But getting into Star Wars books doesn’t have to be so daunting.

In this article, I’ll show you how my thinking about reading Star Wars books has evolved. Hopefully, it will help you come up with a plan of your own

To Start at the Very Beginning?

I had meant to get into Star Wars books for a few years when I sat down to play Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. This was back before Disney bought Lucasfilm. I was sure Revenge of the Sith was the last Star Wars movie I’d ever see, and I was happy just to be back in this universe I had loved as a kid.

The game stoked my appetite for more, so I decided it was finally time to get serious about the books.

Partly because I had been spending time in the Old Republic Era, and partly because I had no better idea where else to start, I figured I’d go back as far as I could. I’d see where this galactic struggle of good and evil began and go through chronologically, so I could follow the ebb and flow over the millennia.

It seemed as good a plan as any, so I dove into the Lost Tribe of the Sith collection, which lays the foundation for an isolated group of Sith that reappears later in the EU and paints a fascinating picture of the galaxy five thousand years before the Battle of Yavin. But then I found something set even earlier and snatched up Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void, which takes place twenty-five thousand years before the time of Luke Skywalker.

I even took my first steps into comics and graphic novels by binging the entire run of Dawn of the Jedi comics. Together, the book and comics offered a fascinating glimpse into the very beginning of the Jedi Order, including the origin of lightsabers and the seed of what would eventually become the Sith as we now know them.

Then came The Force Awakens.

The sequel trilogy ushered in a new golden age of Star Wars. With it came original books filling us in on the adventures of familiar faces and introducing us to memorable new characters. New movies meant new novelizations. There was even a collection of short stories commemorating the franchise’s 40th anniversary.

I still wanted to read all the books—Canon and Legends. But all this new material and the excitement surrounding it made it difficult to stick to my original plan of reading everything chronologically.

I Suggest a New Strategy, R2

I quickly realized that methodically working through books set millennia before the films ignored what was happening with Star Wars publishing here in the real world.

I saw articles about Lost Stars and heard podcasters talk about the Aftermath trilogy and Catalyst. Did it make sense for me to say, “Sounds good, guys, I’ll get to them in a decade or two” while I still worked through the Old Republic Era?

Cover of Claudia Gray's Lost Stars
Image Credit: Penguin Random House

I didn’t think so.

And as a practical matter, chronological order isn’t always the simplest approach. Many of the older books are available digitally—but not all of them, and for readers who want actual paper books, some of the Legends titles are hard to find. However, many of the new books are RIGHT THERE in your bookstore. Ultimately, it didn’t make sense to slow down because I couldn’t find the next thing on the in-universe timeline.

I then had one final epiphany. It dawned on me that I don’t limit myself to reading anything else chronologically. So why was I handcuffing myself into reading Star Wars that way? I began to realize that I had overcomplicated something supposed to be fun.

I unapologetically jumped into celebrating 40 years of Star Wars by cracking open From a Certain Point of View.

Choose Your Destiny

Here at Youtini, we welcome you to plot your own course. If you haven’t read any Star Wars books before, you can build a solid foundation by starting with our Essential Six. This is a list that our team has created specifically to help readers see what the EU has to offer. Our selection includes titles from both the Canon and Legends timelines and represents different publication eras, so you’re sure to find a style or subject that captures your interest. Each is a great book, and each is a great entry point for new readers. 

From there, if you’re like many of us, you’ll enjoy keeping up with new releases. Youtini maintains the most accurate and up-to-date release schedule on the internet, so you’ll always know what’s coming out next (you can even subscribe to text message and email updates if you want). Our active Discord community is a great place to talk with other fans about the latest books and comics and get hyped about the next roundtable discussion on The Living Force

We also encourage you to visit the Youtini Reading Order, where our team of voracious readers and passionate Star Wars fans has built our own comprehensive reading order. It groups books into tiers based on criteria such as: 

·       Readability and how much you already need to know to enjoy a given book

·       How memorable the characters are and how important the story is to the larger Star Wars universe

·       The writing style and how well the book flows

·       The entertainment value and how likely the book is to make you want to read more!

With the Youtini reading order, you can read everything in one tier before moving on to another, or hop between tiers to follow a favorite character, series, or author. We designed our reading order to be flexible and let you go where the Force leads while at the same time offering suggestions to help to inform your decisions.

Our collections complement the Youtini Reading Order by focusing on things like specific characters, topics, eras, and even authors. Whatever aspect of the Star Wars universe is your favorite, we probably have a curated collection that covers it!

Ultimately, we believe in enjoying these books and this universe however you want. So, follow our reading order. Or follow publication order, or, yes, even chronological order if that’s what you want to do—and if you do, be sure to check out the best-looking and most comprehensive timeline on the Internet! Regardless of your path, the Youtini team—and the most positive community of Star Wars readers in the galaxy—are with you every step of the way!

The Youtini Timeline
Image Credit: Youtini
Contents
Karl lives on Whidbey Island, Washington, with his wife and fellow Star Wars fan Karissa. After a 20-year Navy career, he now works full-time as a freelance writer. When he’s not enjoying the galaxy far, far away, he can usually be found skiing, hiking, and supporting the northwest's independent brewers.