If you’re anything like me, you have far more books on your “to read” list than you have time available. I’m often overwhelmed by the sheer number of unread books I have surrounding me at any given time. Which is why I squeeze in reading whenever and wherever I can. To that end, audiobooks are a lifesaver. I adore them.
Have a long commute? Have a big lawn to mow? Go running or work out at the gym? Take a daily walk around the neighborhood to beef up your step count?
If any of those sound familiar – or have other similar “down time” during your day – then might I suggest adding some audiobooks to your phone or iPod? And if you’re a Star Wars fan who can’t keep up with the neverending parade of books coming out? First of all, I feel you. But also? Look no further.
The new crop of Star Wars books have been, by and large, top notch. There are few I wouldn’t recommend, and many are genuinely great books. And the audio versions of most of them only enhance the experience. Phenomenal voice acting, sound effects, music – if you aren’t already evangelizing about the magic of audiobooks, you soon will be.
So, without further ado, here’s our list of fantastic places to start. This list is by no means comprehensive, but we’ve compiled some of the best audio versions of the best books in the New Canon. You can’t go wrong with any of these. Trust me.
Dark Disciple (by Christie Golden and read by Marc Thompson)
Dark Disciple takes place after the events of The Clone Wars animated series and wraps up Asajj Ventress’s story. Golden actually worked from unproduced scripts (an 8-episode arc) that were originally intended to be part of the show, but she has the freedom of a full novel to tell the story. And it’s fantastic. (Listen to my conversation with Christie Golden here.) The story centers on Ventress and Quinlan Vos, and it’s one of the most surprisingly heartbreaking Star Wars books I’ve ever read. Marc Thompson does an incredible job, as usual, narrating the book and bringing the characters to life. (Listen to my conversation with Marc Thompson here.)
Bloodline (by Claudia Gray and read by January LaVoy)
Bloodline is set in the years before The Force Awakens, focuses squarely on Senator Leia Organa, and happens to be the best Leia story ever told. You can read my review of this essential book right here, but just know that this is the most personal, relevant, and poignant Star Wars book I’ve ever read. (Listen to my conversation with Claudia Gray here.) January LaVoy does an incredible job giving depth and humanity to Leia, and she does a phenomenal job bringing her to life. The production value of this audiobook is also quite high, as is to be expected. Background music and sound effects add vibrancy and dramatic tension to most scenes, and it’s an absolute pleasure to listen to.
Bridging the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, the Aftermath trilogy covers a lot of ground and introduces some critical new characters, events, and locations. Again, Marc Thompson turns in an incredible performance across all three books of Wendig’s trilogy. His ability to morph into dozens of characters is nothing short of remarkable, and it makes these 44 hours of required listening breeze by. And until we have an actual Mr. Bones on screen to love and adore, Thompson’s portrayal is more than enough to tide us over.
Ahsoka (by E.K. Johnston and read by Ashley Eckstein)
I’ll argue that Ahsoka Tano is the most vital new character introduced to the Star Wars saga since the original trilogy (Expanded Universe included). And Johnston’s book focuses on Ahsoka’s time between the end of The Clone Wars and the beginning of Rebels. You can read my full review of the book here, but in terms of the audiobook, all you really need to know is that it’s narrated by the voice of Ahsoka Tano herself: Ashley Eckstein. It really heightens the experience and makes Ahsoka leap off the page, so to speak. (Listen to my conversation with Ashley Eckstein here.)
Catalyst (by James Luceno and read by Jonathan Davis)
If you fell in love with the Erso family or Orson Krennic from Rogue One, then Catalyst should be on your list. Luceno tells the story of Krennic and Galen Erso toward the end of the Clone Wars, when the idea of a superweapon was just that – an idea. The book shows how the Death Star blossomed from an abstract idea to a frightening reality, and we get to see Galen, Lyra, and Jyn when they most closely resembled a “happy family.” Jonathan Davis makes the audiobook required listening because come on – if he’s good enough to bring Junot Díaz’s Pulitzer-winning The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao to life, then the galaxy far, far away should welcome him with open arms. And his Orson Krennic is sure to send shivers down your spine.
Thrawn (by Timothy Zahn and read by Marc Thompson)
Finally, this list simply wouldn’t be complete without Timothy Zahn’s return to the character he created: Grand Admiral Thrawn. Thrawn reintroduces the character to the Star Wars saga and provides a bit of backstory for who he is and where he came from. As someone who fell in love with Thrawn way back in 1991 with Zahn’s Heir to the Empire, I found this new book to be absolutely compelling, and I fell in love with the character all over again. Marc Thompson also turns in a stellar performance, giving Thrawn the perfect balance between ruthless logic and calculated evil. He also, surprisingly, humanizes the character. Between Zahn’s internal monologue and Thompson’s performance, you’ll find yourself reevaluating everything you think you know about Thrawn.