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f you’ve ever searched for Star Wars books at your local library or bookstore or browsed online, you probably already know how overwhelming it feels to stare at a collection of titles and have no idea where to begin.

Add to it the fact that Star Wars Canon books follow a separate timeline from Legends books, and things get even more confusing. Where does each book take place related to the movies? Do you have to read each book chronologically? If not, where do you begin?

If these are the answers you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right page. Because we love Star Wars books so much, we’ve put together all the resources you might need to dive into this sector of the expanded universe.

We can also clear up the common confusion between Canon, Legends, and the Expanded Universe (EU) to make navigating Star Wars Canon less of a chore and more of an adventure.

What Star Wars Books are Canon?

Star Wars books have been on the market since 1977. Even before there was a separation between Star Wars Canon and Legends, the amount of books to choose from numbered in the hundreds. And that’s not including the comics!

Over 40 Star Wars novels have been published since 2014 alone, meaning the collection of Canon stories making up the Expanded Universe is growing faster than ever. With that, though, comes more opportunities for fans of all reading interests to find stories they’ll enjoy.

Canon vs Legends in Star Wars Books

One of the most confusing things for readers new to Star Wars books is all this talk about Canon vs. Legends. So let’s take a second to quickly clarify the difference between the two and how they each impact your approach to the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

Legends books and comics include anything published before 2014, such as the original Thrawn trilogy and the New Jedi Order books. These stories follow an alternate timeline in which the First Order and Kylo Ren never existed.

Canon books and comics, by contrast, include everything published since 2014 and any Star Wars novel, comic, or reference book released moving forward. These books follow the same timeline as the complete Skywalker saga.

You can also easily spot the difference between Star Wars Canon and Legends books in stores and online without checking the dates, just by looking at the covers. All Legends books are now printed with a gold banner across the top of the front cover that says LEGENDS to let you know it was published sometime before 2014 and may contain some inconsistencies with any Canon novels you’ve read. Canon books, on the other hand, do not have this banner on their covers.

Easy right?

If you’re looking at Star Wars books on physical shelves, Legends books are also smaller in size than Canon books. Star Wars Canon books are taller and wider, while Legends books are shorter and thinner and always sell in paperback.

For a larger, in-depth look on the differences between Canon and Legends, check out our guide.

Want to know when new Star Wars Canon books are coming out? All new releases in Star Wars Canon are updated regularly on our site via our release schedule. Titles range from young adult novels to reference guides to kids’ books and more!

The Star Wars Canon Timeline

Have you ever picked up a Star Wars book and wondered where it takes place in comparison to a movie, show, or other expanded universe story? We have. So we created a comprehensive Star Wars book timeline to make it easy to find where each story fits in the greater Skywalker saga and beyond.

Sometimes choosing where certain stories fall on the timeline isn’t as simple as it might seem. Some canon Star Wars books, like Dooku: Jedi Lost, take place over many years and might overlap with other stories that take place around the same time.

We’ve organized our timeline so that you can quickly and easily get an idea of where the book you want to read fits into the larger Star Wars story. You’ll be able to line up each book with the key events it addresses in a matter of minutes.

Reading Star Wars Canon Novels for the First Time

Now that you know the difference between Star Wars Canon and Star Wars Legends books and how to figure out where books fall on the Star Wars book timeline, you’re ready to give your first-ever Canon novel a try!

But wait! There are still almost 50 novels to choose from! Narrowing your search down to Canon books doesn’t quite make all the decisions for you, does it?

How you choose to embark on your journey through Star Wars Canon books is completely up to you, the reader. But we can offer some guidance if you’re still not sure where you want to begin, especially if you want to know whether or not reading every book in order as it appears on our timeline is worth it.

The Best Star Wars Book Reading Order

Of all the questions our team gets from community members new to Star Wars Canon books, a sizable portion of them revolve around the subject of reading order. Is reading Star Wars books in chronological order necessary? Is it worth it?

In general, reading Star Wars books chronologically doesn’t enhance most readers’ experience. In fact, it’s usually a better idea to start with the books you would be most familiar with as a fan of the movies or Star Wars TV shows. What IS the best reading order? We have an entire guide dedicated to that very question

Need a little more guidance? Here are a few places you can start.

  1. Read the Youtini Foundational Five first. Our staff has hand-picked the best Star Wars books to start with based on their inclusion of familiar characters, themes, and events within the timeline. Some of these books are classified as Legends, but our guide can help you begin your Star Wars reading journey overall, regardless of which books you end up starting with.
  2. Start with the highest-quality Star Wars books. Don’t worry, we’ve already done that homework for you. The ideal Star Wars book reading order is organized based on the best quality books available to read. These stories include the impressive storytelling and mastery of Star Wars lore that get fans most excited about Star Wars.

And if you’re looking to stay up-to-date on the Star Wars books publishing now, you can always start with what’s been published most recently and go from there.

The Best Canon Star Wars Books to Read First

If you don’t start from the very first Star Wars Canon book in the timeline, then where do you begin? One benefit of connecting with the Star Wars reading community is that many fans often tend to recommend the same foundational books -- and for good reasons.

The best Star Wars books are the ones that remind you why you fell in love with Star Wars in the first place. These stories are so thrilling, so captivating, so meaningful to their readers, that you can’t stop thinking about them even long after you’ve put them down. You just need a little experience before diving in.

The foundational books in Star Wars canon contain strong dynamic characters, high-quality storytelling, and creative narratives within the galaxy far, far away. This combination of components have come to define some of the greatest stories the expanded universe has given us, as well as some of the best authors who have written them.

Based on recommendations from our team, we’ve put together a list of Star Wars Canon books to start with. Reading these books first is a tried and true way to immerse yourself in the Star Wars expanded universe while having an absolute blast doing it.

Lost Stars by Claudia Gray (2014)

Lost Stars cover
Lost Stars cover

Star Wars fans familiar with the original trilogy will immediately feel at home reading a book that spans across all three films. The story follows two aspiring pilots who join the Empire for the chance to do what they love most: fly. But one of them soon realizes he doesn’t agree with Imperial ideals and ends up on the other side of the battlefield. Oh, and did we mention these two are secretly in love?

Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray (2019)

Master & Apprentice cover
Master & Apprentice cover

Have you ever wondered what Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn’s relationship was like before The Phantom Menace? It turns out these two didn’t agree on much of anything, and their master-apprentice partnership almost didn’t last. This story follows the Jedi Master and his Padawan as they struggle to protect a young ruler from an evil they’re severely underestimating.

Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse (2019)

Resistance Reborn cover
Resistance Reborn cover

Anyone familiar with the sequel trilogy might be curious to know how the Resistance went from a single ship of loyalists to a forceful rebellion between the end of The Last Jedi and the beginning of The Rise of Skywalker. This book takes place shortly after the second film in the trilogy ends and follows Leia and Poe as they attempt to find support for their cause … and maybe even reunite with a few old friends.

Most Wanted by Rae Carson (2018)

Most Wanted cover
Most Wanted cover

Before Han Solo fell in love with a princess, he loved a woman named Q’ra. If their story of trial and heartbreak left you wanting more, there’s another story that came before the one you likely already know. This book serves as a prequel to Solo: A Star Wars Story, following Han and Q’ra as they risked their lives time and again just to earn better chances of survival.

Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott (2019)

Dooku: Jedi Lost cover
Dooku: Jedi Lost cover

Count Dooku’s backstory remained mostly in the shadows until fairly recently. We knew he was a former student of Master Yoda and that he was close with a Jedi named Syfo Dias. This audiobook expands upon these segments of information, telling the story of how a well-meaning hero became a villain. Narrated by a full cast, the first-ever canon Star Wars audio drama takes listeners through the long, complicated life of Dooku, an accomplished Jedi Master who would later serve a Sith Lord.

The Best Canon Star Wars Books of All Time

Because there are so many Star Wars canon books available, we’ve carefully selected a handful of titles best suited for anyone exploring the Expanded Universe for the first time.

However, keep in mind the best books of all time are not necessarily the best books to read first. The best books to read first don’t require much prior knowledge of the EU beyond the films. Additionally, they all benefit from incredible storytelling. 

That’s why we have a separate list purely based on the Youtini rating system.

Everyone has different criteria for what makes a “great” Star Wars book. Here at Youtini, we rate Star Wars books on a specific set of categories to determine which books make up the best representation of what great Star Wars books look like.

We rate books based on the following criteria:

  • Plot
  • Characters
  • Originality
  • Writing
  • Entertainment

Every category gets its own score, and each of these individual scores add up to produce a cumulative rating out of 10.

Based on these ratings, we’ve put together a list of the Best Star Wars Canon Books of All Time. So if you’re on the hunt for the best of what’s out there, you’ve come to the right place.

Additionally, if you want to straight to the top of both Canon and Legends, we've compiled a list of the Best Star Wars Books of All Time that cover both timelines.

Star Wars Audiobooks

Finding time to read can be challenging. And some people actually find books more enjoyable when they can listen to them while they’re doing work around the house or driving from place to place.

This is the beauty of Star Wars Canon audiobooks. Not only can you listen to them anywhere, but there is also a wide selection of options to choose from. While many Star Wars Legends audiobooks aren’t as easy to hunt down on popular distributors like Audible, Canon recordings are plentiful.

Some of the best Star Wars Canon audiobooks available now are narrated by familiar voices such as Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka) and Catherine Taber (Queen’s Shadow). Others combine top narration talent with incredible storytelling to create listening experiences you’ll want to repeat again and again. 

The unique narrators and voice actors are what make audiobooks a great way to consume Star Wars stories. Marc Thompson is a long-time audiobook narrator, and his cast of voices over the years is most impressive. You can hear more about his experience on The Living Force Podcast.

To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best Star Wars canon audiobooks available now -- with many more to come.

Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott (2019)

Dooku: Jedi Lost cover

Count Dooku’s backstory remained mostly in the shadows until fairly recently. We knew he was a former student of Master Yoda and that he was close with a Jedi named Syfo Dias. This audiobook expands upon these segments of information, telling the story of how a well-meaning hero became a villain. Narrated by a full cast, the first-ever canon Star Wars audio drama takes listeners through the long, complicated life of Dooku, an accomplished Jedi Master who would later serve a Sith Lord. 

Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston (2016)

Ahsoka cover
Ahsoka cover

Narrated by Ashley Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka Tano in The Clone Wars and Rebels, this audiobook tells a story of grief, acceptance, and healing. Fans who love Ahsoka will want to know what happened to her after crash-landing on that moon after the Siege of Mandalore, and this book tells it all -- from her desperate attempts to hide from the Empire to her efforts to give as much light back to the galaxy as possible.

Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Jonston (2018)

Queen's Shadow cover
Queen's Shadow cover

Narrated by Catherine Taber, the voice of Padme Amidala in The Clone Wars, this audiobook tells the story of what happened to the young Queen of Naboo after her term in office expired. There isn’t much written about the time period between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. This book gives curious fans insight into how Padme became a senator and her early interactions with senators Bail Organa and Mon Mothma.

Star Wars audiobooks can bring your favorite stories to life through captivating narration, music, and sound effects. In some cases, the audiobook versions of certain books are even better than reading the physical books they originate from.

Thinking about giving audiobooks a try? Audible’s wide selection of Star Wars titles will give you more than enough options to choose from. You can download your first audiobook for free through Youtini.

Star Wars Canon Comics

Star Wars stories come in a variety of forms, all coming together to make up the Star Wars Expanded Universe (everything that isn’t a film or TV show).

Our Star Wars Comics Ultimate Getting Started Guide will teach you everything you need to know about the history of Star Wars comics, which comics are considered Canon, and how to navigate the hundreds upon hundreds of issues published over the years.

Don’t think you’re “into” comics? Reading Star Wars comics is a completely different experience than reading traditional books. But just because they’re different doesn’t mean they aren’t worth checking out.

Star Wars #1 cover
Star Wars #1 cover

Unlike Star Wars books, Star Wars comics take less time to read while also giving you a captivating, cohesive story from issue to issue. These fast-paced, action-packed stories have the same themes and touch on the same subjects as the books, they just use visual storytelling -- and often a style of humor unique to this medium -- to get them across.

So if you simply love Star Wars and want more stories from different parts of the universe, comics are the way to go. Many of them even focus on characters you already know and love, so the transition to this different type of reading can be much smoother than you think.

If you’re unsure where to begin, Marvel’s Star Wars comic series features familiar characters from the original trilogy and picks up right after A New Hope ends. The stories within these panels will almost make you forget you’re reading a comic -- they’re just that good.

Get Started Reading Star Wars

Our staff has worked hard to build a positive and resourceful community of fans dedicated to helping each other discover the parts of the Expanded Universe they can fall in love with. If you have questions about a specific book, chances are someone in the Youtini community has already read it and can answer them for you! If you don’t know what to read next, there’s always someone around to give you individualized suggestions.

On our Discord server, you can get book and comic recommendations from members of the community based on your interests, discuss your favorite books of all time, and find like-minded fans who love the same types of Star Wars stories as you do.

It’s time to dive in.

If you’re looking to start with a Star Wars book that feels familiar and easy to get into, we highly recommend Lost Stars by Claudia Gray. This story spans the entirety of the original trilogy and features a forbidden romance between two pilots on opposing sides of the Galactic Civil War.

Lost Stars is one of the highest-rated books on our site and also happens to be the #1 recommendation on our list of Star Wars books to read first. It’s not often that a book is so universally beloved by an entire community, so if you’re ready to dive in, this is the perfect story to start with.

Ready to dive in? You now have all the tools you need to explore the Star Wars expanded universe. But you don’t have to do it alone. Along the way, keep us up to date on how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and your favorite books so far. Our Discord is open to any Star Wars fans who want to share their love of the galaxy far, far away. Welcome to the community! And May the Force be with you.

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