Friday, July 29, 2011

How Star Wars Saved My Love of Reading

I don’t know if I’ve ever done my love of Star Wars justice on this website. I’ve alluded to it. I’ve listed it as my most favorite SF thing ever. But I don’t know if I’ve ever really explained how much I really, truly love Star Wars.

There is so much to love about Star Wars. The original trilogy is a classic tale. A struggle of good versus evil. A story of redemption. A story of wizards in space. What’s not to love?

But I think the reason why I love Star Wars so much is because Star Wars saved my love of reading.

When I was in the 5th grade, I had read every book in my school’s library. So I branched out to the public library, following authors I trusted and loved. But this was not a good move. Why? Because I was in the fifth grade, and just because an author writes a couple of 9 year old appropriate books, that doesn’t mean all their books are appropriate. Hence I read my first sex scene at the age of 9.

I had no idea it was coming. And thinking back, it probably wasn’t that graphic. But it traumatized me. I didn’t want to read anything like that ever again. I didn’t like it. I wanted nothing to do with it. So what could I read? Books aren’t rated and I had long sense outread anything my parents and older siblings read when they were my age. And it’s not like we had the internet to look up books I could read. And this was pre-Harry Potter, so the middle grade section of the book store was not the over abundance of books it is now.

I was such a good reader that I had outread all of my possibilities. I was stuck. My love of reading had crashed into a wall. What was I to do? Where was I to go?

Thus my uncle loaned me The Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn.

Luke, Han, Leia—they were all back in full force, plus new amazing characters like Mara Jade and Grand Admiral Thrawn. Had someone just made me like and sympathize with Imperials? Yes, yes they had.

Suddenly there was a section of the bookstore that was safe for me. Star Wars is and always has been rated no more than PG-13. And PG-13 I could handle. But not R.

And the Extended Universe (aka Star Wars books) was huge. So many books to catch up on! So many books to read. So many possibilities. Thus began weekly trips to the bookstore. My mom would take my brother, little sister, and me to the mall every Saturday. We’d get Chic-Fil-A for lunch and then go across the hall to the Waldens. I still remember where the Star Wars section was. Straight back in the dead center, a whole section of just Star Wars books. I would pick out two I hadn’t read every Saturday and by the next Saturday I finished reading them. I did this for two years. Star Wars was all I read in fifth and sixth grade. And then, of course, Harry Potter came out and everything changed.

Without Star Wars, I wouldn’t have survived to Harry Potter revolutionizing my world. I would have stopped reading in the fifth grade and found other pastimes. No one else in my family reads as much as I do, so I would have found something to replace reading. And reading probably would have been replaced. A person doesn’t just stop reading for two years and survive as the same avid reader she had once been.

So in middle school when everyone else was obsessed with boy bands, I was obsessed with Rogue Squadron. When everyone else was getting into makeup, I was figuring out how to build a lightsaber (in theory, not practice). Does this make me a geek? Yes, yes it does. But to this day I still read two books a week (if not more sometimes), and most of my other friends only read maybe a book a month.

I still have my geek card and my avid reader status. And I thank Star Wars for them both.


  1. David Eddings' Belgariad is PG-13 and so are most of his other books. Another I could recommend might be Roger Zelazny's Amber series though some of it gets a lil racy.

    Stay away from Laurel K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series. Holy cow does she get carried away.

    But you're dead on the money with Star Wars. It's made for kids to enjoy all the way.

  2. Unfortunately, Michael, when I was in middle school I had no one to recommend such books to me. I didn't read the Belgariad until college--didn't know it existed. The only reason I started reading Pern books was because there was a short story in our English text book and I started reading Wheel of Time because my dad found one of the books. All completely random.

    I'll have to add the Amber series to my list of books to read and keep Laurel K. Hamilton off. She'll go on my George R.R. Martin waaaaaaay to descriptive for me list. lol