If you’re an Expanded Universe fan, chances are you’ve had to field the following question at least once: “Where should I start reading the Star Wars books?” Everyone has a different answer of course but the most common is usually “The Thrawn Trilogy. Duh.” As the first EU book, it’s accessible and doesn’t require more knowledge than the films and it’s simply a pretty darn good trilogy. The problem, however, is that I don’t think this works anymore.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve had two people ask me where they should start reading the books and I had to pause and reconsider the instinctive and age-old Thrawn Trilogy answer. We now live in a world where there is Star Wars canon and there is Legends with hundreds of books. For me, this changes that game completely.
Taking my probably belated realization into mind, I wanted to share with all of you my new method for deciding which EU books I should recommend to someone. It’s only been tested on two people so it’s hardly foolproof but it may be useful to some of you.
“Are you mostly interested in the books that are a part of the new canon or are you interested in any of the books?”
While I will go to my grave clutching some of my favorite Legends books to my chest, (Shatterpoint! Starfighters of Adumar!) it’s probably not fair to hand someone Heir to the Empire if they’re only interested in books that count as a part of the new canon. Plus, if their answer is the former, you can save yourself a lot of time by handing them A New Dawn accompanied by a brief list that can fit on a post it note.
“What characters and eras do you really like?”
I know that many of us bloggers are rather partial to particular eras (ie: Clone Wars or post-RotJ) or to different characters but that doesn’t necessarily apply to our advice asking friends. I will forever swear by the X-Wing books but if someone tells me that they’re interested in the Prequel Era, those won’t be the first suggestions out of my mouth. Similarly, I may personally not be enamored with the Darth Bane books but I would certainly suggest them to someone who tells me they’re intrigued by the Sith.
“Do you want mostly standalone books or are you interested in series?”
Because there’s a very big difference in recommending someone Scoundrels versus the New Jedi Order regardless on what your thoughts on the books actually are. A lot of people are going to be intimidated by a 19 book series or heck, even a 9 book series. In fact, they may even be thrown by the prospect of a long list of post-RotJ books from the Bantam Era. I’ve been guilty of sending people an actual essay of Expanded Universe recommendations that I now realize is probably a little intimidating.
“Do you mind a few other recommendations that I really love and think are worth your time?”
Pfft. As if I’d manage to recommend Star Wars books to come and NOT mention the X-Wing books. The important thing here is, in my opinion, to not overwhelm someone with books. Based upon the first three questions alone, you’ve probably already come up with a list of at least half a dozen to over a dozen books. The best part of this question? More likely than not, the person will say “Oh no, of course not. Which books?” because they’re either interested or they want to be polite. It’s the best of both worlds really: you guide them towards books that you think will truly interest them AND you get to nudge them towards two or three of your favorites.
Of course, every last one of these questions is rendered moot if your mortal enemy asks you for Star Wars book recommendations. Then you just hand them The Crystal Star and exit stage right.