ou’ve read your first Star Wars book. And maybe your second. Or maybe you’ve read a few books at this point but, now you are faced with the most important question.
You’ve found some momentum, and you’re ready to jump headfirst into the Expanded Universe, but you can’t help but wonder: In what order should I read Star Wars books?
We get this question a lot at Youtini, and it’s a perfectly reasonable one! There are hundreds of books and it’s easy to just grab one or two, or even hit the Youtini Foundational Five, but where do you go after that?
We've built an all-inclusive guide on this incredibly important question. Are you ready?
Punch it, Chewy!
There are a number of different reading methods out there, but we’ll start with the first two most common for Star Wars readers: chronological order and publishing order.
Star Wars Books In Chronological Order
Chronological order, meaning simply in the order of the Star Wars Timeline, is probably the most commonly recommended reading order out there.
Reading in chronological order means locating a timeline somewhere, for example the excellent timelines over at Yoda’s Datapad, [Insert other timeline], or even ours here at Youtini - which is gorgeous - but I suppose we are a little biased.
Then, you follow the timeline book-by-book, reading each new entry on the timeline in the order that it occurs in the Star Wars chronology.
You’ll start with books many millennia before the films and progress all the way through the films and several decades after.
That makes sense right? There’s a clear order to follow and it’s not too complex. Just read in order!
However, it is our official opinion at Youtini that reading purely in chronological order is an unfortunately poor and difficult way to read Star Wars books.
We have a number of reasons for recommending against chronological order, many of which are outlined fully in our popular article, Should you read Star Wars books in chronological order? But here’s the short version:
For one, the first book in the timeline takes place literally 25,000 years before the films. That’s an incomprehensible amount of time and has nothing to do with the stories that fans looking to explore the larger galaxy for the first time are familiar with.
Looking for Luke? Too bad. The Jedi Council? Not here. Your favorite Corellian freighters and fighters? Get outta here.
Secondly, and most importantly, when you choose to read in this order, you are tied to reading in a specific era until you’ve completely exhausted it. Which in our experience, often leads to burnout and Star Wars fatigue.
It makes sense too right? When you read 30 books in a row about the Clone Wars, you are bound to get bored because all of the stories start running together and have a similar format, feel, and plot.
Speaking of eras, many of the eras in Star Wars are simply enormous with over 50 books just spanning 10 or so years.
In addition, how some of the eras are broken down and officially labeled by Lucasfilm is confusing and a bit problematic. We have a full break down of those eras and how Youtini has re-labeled them for simplicity in our article, The Star Wars Timeline.
In short, chronological order can cause burnout, confusion when you actually dive into content, and will not ultimately offer the most rewarding Star Wars reading experience.
Star Wars Books In Publishing Order
Publishing order simply means starting with the first book that was ever published - Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Alan Dean Foster - and continuing on through the list with each book released after that.
Much like the chronological approach, this order makes a lot of sense at first glance. After all, it’s probably how your dad read all the books. It makes sense that you experience them in that same order right?
Here’s the thing:
Star Wars isn’t a singular experience.
Star Wars is a multi-generational and culturally important experience that no two people share in exactly the same way. Just because dad read them in that order, doesn’t mean you also have to.
And what about when a new book comes out?
The entire community is super hyped about it, they’re talking about it on our Discord, they’re counting the days until The Living Force Podcast does a roundtable on it, they’re rolling their eyes at shameless plugs on websites. Yet, here you are, over in a corner reading a book that’s 25 years old just because you think you have to.
Don’t get me wrong. Some of that 25-year old content is hella good. But don’t sacrifice the joy of diving in with a huge community just because you are set on some arbitrary order.
But while we are talking about books that are 25 years old, it goes without saying that some of those books are… well… rough. I mean how could they not be? The universe was tiny back then and Star Wars books were barely even a concept yet.
Heck, even sci-fi itself was barely even a developed genre. If there were three Star Wars books out, of course you were gonna read them. After all, we are talking about a film that’s almost 50 years old!
The reasons we dislike publishing order are shared with chronological order: you will get burned out, you are tied to an arbitrary order without room for flexibility, and you will have to slug through a lot of content that just hasn’t aged well in order to get to the good stuff.
Read What You Want
Before we get to our recommended reading order, I want to mention possibly the most important piece of information we can give.
The best reading order is the one that keeps you reading.
If that order is chronological order or publishing order, by all means, do it! There isn’t a right or wrong way to read Star Wars books.
If you want to pick an arbitrary order like chronological or publishing order, we’ve made that even easier by compiling specific sections of our website so you have something to follow along with. Check out these pages for more info:
- Star Wars Legends Books in Chronological Order
- Star Wars Canon Books in Chronological Order
- Star Wars Books in Publishing Order
Honestly, we built this reading order because we get approached by people all the time saying, “I read a bunch of books in chronological order a while back, but I kinda got burned out and stopped reading.”
And that just breaks our hearts.
It’s this experience that led us to the conclusion that these arbitrary orders just don’t work for people starting out reading Star Wars Books, so we decided to do something different.
The Best Star Wars Book Reading Order
Since Star Wars books vary so widely in quality, critical acclaim, and cover such a wide span of time, a lot has to go into developing a reading order.
When choosing how to read, it’s important to:
- Consider what’s going to give you the best overall experience
- Start with the right content so you don’t end up in the middle of a nine-book series or trudging through something that was revered 30 years ago
- Keep you up-to-date with the latest content so you can join the excitement of waiting for the next release - something other reading orders virtually ignore
- Get you involved in the reading community since everyone can always use more Star Wars friends
That being said, this is how we recommend reading Star Wars books:
The Four Step Youtini Reading Plan
#1: Start with the Youtini Foundational Five
There are a ton of reasons that we picked these books to read first - all of which are outlined in our Getting Started Guide.
Even if you aren’t new to reading Star Wars books, these five books (nine books if you count the trilogies) are absolutely the books you should start with.
#2: Read all the newest novels within 30 days of their release
The Star Wars community is constantly hyped about the newest books. It’s a ton of fun to participate and you don’t want to miss out on the experience of reading and sharing your thoughts with like minded fans.
It’s a huge part of Star Wars and something other reading orders completely ignore. Do you miss the excitement of sitting with your best friends at a midnight movie release? Try jumping into Discord when the latest Claudia Gray novel drops.
You can find all of the latest releases on our site on the New Releases page.
#3: Use the Youtini Ideal Reading Order
We have dug through hundreds of books and analyzed them on a number of metrics before placing them in a reading order.
We’ve organized books into four levels of importance and if you are set on following something, loosely sticking to our organization will give you a positive reading experience that is sure to keep you hooked. We have a full breakdown of our reading order below.
#4: Pick books based on what you like
If you’ve never played around with our Reading Guides, now is the time. We have tailored reading guides based on characters, authors, themes, and eras with a hand-curated breakdown of the best content surrounding that collection.
Reading stuff you like is what will keep you reading, so even if you use the Youtini Ideal Reading Order, these collections can help cherry-pick your books.
The Youtini Ideal Reading Order
As mentioned above, our staff has individually analyzed every Star Wars novel ever written and placed it in our reading order based on the following criteria:
- Reading ease and required prior knowledge
- The memorability of the characters and their importance in Star Wars
- The comfort of the writing style and the flow of the book
- The relative importance of the book in the grand scheme of the EU
- Perhaps most importantly: the fun, entertainment, and likelihood to keep you hooked.
Based on these factors, we have sorted books into 4 levels that you can peruse at your pleasure.
Unlike other reading orders, you have a lot of freedom with ours.
You can read everything in the exact order that we present if you’d like, but you can also skip around as much as you want as long as you loosely stick to the same level before moving on to the next.
Let's dive in to each level.
Must read. These books are some of the best books to read first. They are the highest quality, important to the EU, and are an absolute blast to read. If you’re trying to find the best parts of Canon and Legends alike, Level 1 books should be your first priority.
Should read. These books are good, and there’s nothing wrong with being good! These books may not be as perfect as those in the level above them, but they all still maintain a high level of quality and can promise a lot of fun for the reader. Once you’ve finished Level 1, Level 2 should be your next goal if you are seeking the most well-rounded experience.
Could read. Get to these books when you’ve finished off the gems in Levels 1 and 2. A lot of these books vary dramatically in quality and often offer an average to mediocre experience. Get to them if you like, because sometimes, you don’t have to be too picky when Star Wars is on the cover.
Can skip. These books are controversial, occasionally just plain bad, and generally disliked by the community. That doesn’t mean that you won’t enjoy them, but consider this the level of diminishing returns.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Youtini Reading Order
Do I need to read the Youtini Ideal Reading Order in order?
Nope. Although you can!
We’ve made an effort to organize these levels in some kind of loose order. However, if you ask different people what order to read them in, you will invariably get different answers.
That’s why we developed the Level system in the first place. Because even if you don’t want to stick to the exact order we’ve laid out, you still have some kind of organizational system to guide you.
So whether you want to stick to our order or jump around, always remember that it’s entirely up to you.
How can I use Youtini Collections in combination with the reading order?
Our Reading Guides are tailor made to guide your reading--thus their name. Check them out, pick a theme, character, author, or era you like and then look at the books we’ve curated for that collection.
Then, just compare where books in that collection sit in our Ideal Reading Order and now you have a starting point!.
And if that first one doesn’t work for you, pick another. Remember, read what you want!
What order should I read comics?
There are so many comics to read in the Star Wars universe, and we want to be sure to give them just as much attention and care as we have the novels. Because of that, we don’t yet have an ideal order for comics but it’s coming soon.
Youtini wants to be the source for all of your Expanded Universe guidance. Comics are part of that and we are actively working on building out an order as we speak.
Get out there and read some Star Wars Books
There you have it. Our official opinion on what order you should read Star Wars Books.
Funny enough, when we first started out, we always said we’d never build an official order. Needless to say, we recognized the need for one so here we are.
So do it! Use our order, use our guides, or ignore it all completely and follow your own path. At the end of the day, there’s one goal and one goal only:
Read some books. Expand your universe.