The first Star Wars publication came out in 1976, almost a year before the first movie. Since then, different writers have written books and novels as prequels, sequels, and spinoffs. So, how many books are there in total?
There are 177 Star Wars books in total, including novels and novelizations. The 2014 Disney takeover brought a significant rehaul, introducing new characters, storylines, and timelines. The entire franchise, including books, is divided into two eras based on pre and post-Disney takeover.
The entire collection can be overwhelming for a new reader. So, we will make things simpler for you by focusing on books only.
Understanding the pre and post-takeover eras will help you organize your reading list better.
Legend and Canon are the two main eras under which books in the Star Wars franchise fall. The differences between the two eras are pretty significant.
George Lucas was the genius behind the initial Star Wars franchise. His screenplay was the basis of the first book, which came out in 1976.
In 2012, a massive change occurred when Disney took over the franchise. The post-takeover period became the Canon era. All books after 2014 are considered Canon. Conversely, all the reading material before 2014, including the Expanded Universe, is Legend.
In a nutshell, the books from the George Lucas era are now classified as Legends, whereas the Disney Era is Canon. For example, the New Jedi and the Thrawn trilogy belong to the Legend era.
There are two ways you can tell the Legend and Canon eras apart:
- The publishing date of the books. Any works published after 2014 would be considered Canon.
- The printing of the cover. Any works with the Legend banner are books from the pre-Disney era. Books from the Canon era do not have any labels or banners.
Disney brought new timelines and characters into the franchise. Many favorite original characters did not make the cut. Those who did survive have different stories and timelines. Some old characters receive nothing more than a mention.
Therefore, new readers who do not want to read every book can just read books from the Canon era.
Many—but not all—of the new Canon books have some connection with the movies. The books give insights into some of the characters and expand on their lives and histories.
To understand the books, you do not have to watch the movie, despite them following the same characters. Most of them have different storylines and additional characters.
Disney brought back a few books from the Legend era. However, the contents of these books are still considered “non-Canon.”
Read more: Is Star Wars Based on a Book?
There are no hard and fast rules for reading the Star Wars books. Once you figure out the reading order, you can quickly sort through the vast collection of adult novels.
With 177 books, it is common for new writers to wonder which book to read first. Remember, you do not have to read all the books to catch up to the movies. Reading Star Wars books is optional.
One of the best ways to create a reading list is to go by the eras: Legend and Canon. However, how do you decide on the reading order?
You can read Star War books by the year of publishing or in chronological order. Both reading preferences have pros and cons. It should be noted that going by the year will have timeline overlaps, creating confusion about when and why certain events occur.
Going by the publishing year lets you see the franchise’s progress and each character’s origin. In comparison, the chronological order tells you the proper timeline of events in the Star Wars Universe.
Another way of determining the order is to read by series. Choosing to read by series automatically creates a chronological order for books in each series. However, you may still run into some timeline lapses and overlaps.
The Star Wars Universe is complex and huge, but it has books for children of all ages. The junior novel series is especially for kids and has books for different age brackets, as young as four.
However, before you encourage your children to start reading Star Wars, giving them age-appropriate books is a good idea. The books with darker plots and more violence can wait a few years to make it to your child’s bookshelf.
You can find the junior novel series on online platforms with books for kids.
If you do not want to read all the books, how do you decide which books to read?
Every reader has their own preferences when it comes to which Star Wars books are the best. If you’re building your own reading list based on recommendations, you may miss out on excellent books by choosing a list from a single source. Therefore, we will not create a list. We will, however, tell you which trilogy sold the most copies.
The order of the books is as follows:
- The first book in the series is Heir to the Empire in 1991.
- The second book is Dark Force Rising, which came out in 1992.
- The third book, Command, came out in 1993.
By far some of the best in fantasy fiction, Star Wars books create an experience of their own. With so many character backgrounds and stories, the novels add to the magic of the Star Wars Universe.
Some of the Canon books may have a connection with films, but the story lineups of the books and the movies are somewhat independent of each other. Therefore, reading the books is optional, giving you the freedom to enjoy the franchise through whatever media you prefer.