Star Wars still reads

Chris Alexander wrote a great piece on the Star Wars Blog about how he got through waiting to see Star Wars by reading the novelization. And it took me back to my own similar experience.

Sit back, kids, and listen to an Old Fart Star Wars fan talk about life in the good ol’ days of 1977 and 1978.

I was nine when Star Wars was first released. It’s hard to describe the phenomenon of how quickly it became a part of everything in that first year. This was before the internet. So the fact that it immediately integrated itself into our culture is a wild situation that I’m not sure will ever be repeated. By the middle of the summer of 1977, my friends and I were playing Star Wars without actually having seen the movie. (Without any toys. Can you imagine?)

But my parents, bless their decidedly mundane hearts, had heard it was violent. And the clips of blaster battles with stormtroopers shown on news stories about this insanity did nothing to disabuse my parents of this notion. So I was informed, in no uncertain terms, that I would not be seeing this movie.

This is when my best friend at the time, Jennifer Libby (who was always one to come up with schemes and ideas), offered to smuggle me a copy of the novelization in exchange for my saved up allowance funds.

That gold colored novelization may as well have been made out of real gold. I desperately wanted to find out more about Star Wars. And the insert with pictures? Heaven!

I read that book so many times that it began to come apart. I became the neighborhood authority on how to properly play Star Wars. (And yes, I’m still bossy all these years later.) And I had it practically memorized.

When my mom found the book in the corner of my closet, I probably should have been in trouble. Instead, Mom realized that the tattered remnants of this book meant that I could handle seeing the movie. So my poor father had to accompany me and the neighborhood kids to the theater to watch the movie that would render me mute for two hours afterward. It was all the novelization described and more!

And that novelization hooked me into Star Wars again as an adult. The remains of that original copy had long ago been tossed during one of Mom’s patented closet purges. I had just moved to Missouri and on a particularly lonely afternoon, I wandered through a used book store and saw that lovely gold cover calling to me. It spoke of fun times and adventures and home. It was like getting in touch with old friends.

I had to get it!

And when, not too long after, Timothy Zahn reignited the flame in a good many other fans, I started to look for more Star Wars books in other used book stores. And now, it has taken over my basement. All the U.S. produced Star Wars books from baby board books up. And there are a lot of them!

So when it was decided that there would be a Star Wars Reads Day on October 6th, I got pretty excited. Because somewhere out there is a kid who maybe has seen Star Wars, but is a hesitant reader. And just maybe that kid will go to one of these events and pick up a book on Star Wars that will engage them like that original gold novelization did me. And maybe that kid will decide reading isn’t so bad after all and gain the joy that so many of us get from books. And the Force will be with them.

11 thoughts on “Star Wars still reads

  1. Nancy K

    Thanks for sharing, Paula. Yay for used book stores!

    Tim Zahn’s books reignited my love of reading. I read tons of books as a kid but that ebbed in 7th or 8th grade. After HttE I read every SW book I could get my hands on and eventually branched out into other genres.

  2. Devan

    One of my favorite lines from the novelization, that’s not in the movie: Obi-Wan: “Even a duck must learn to swim.” Luke: “What’s a duck?”

  3. Me

    This is awesome. I still have my original tattered copy from ’77. Love hearing your story, thanks for sharing!

  4. kataja

    That’s my fav line too, Devan!

    Wonderful post, Paula! It reminds so much about my own story – though I had to wait until ESB to get to the theaters! And I couldn’t read english, but used to hang out in the bookshop for hours, just watching those glossy pictures! LOL

  5. Mark Newbold

    Similar experience, although here in the UK the book came out via Sphere and had a bright yellow cover.
    Ahhh, those were the days! I love pieces like this. Great line you said, “not too long after, Timothy Zahn reignited the flame in a good many other fans” Absolutely, the RE-launch of the EU. I’m not having it that the EU started in 1991 when there had been 8 years of comics, voluminous RPG material, two trilogies of Solo and Calrissian novels, two animated TV shows and two TV movies before HTTE was written.
    Great article!

  6. Paula Post author

    Thanks for all of the lovely compliments!

    Mark, I have one of those yellow covered ones. It is still a very bright yellow after all these years. And I have every other US cover variation, as well.

    Steve Sansweet once dared me to also collect every single printing of the gold-colored novelization (over 400), but that got old after a while. But I can’t bring myself to let go of the twenty copies I did manage to collect. :)

  7. Pingback: Saturday is Star Wars Reads day

  8. Amaranthine

    Oh gosh…I have the original gold, falling-apart version of that book…the “Year’s Best Movie!” still cracks me up. Before I found it in my uncle’s stuff, I read it(along with the rest of the trilogy) in that ginormous big hardcover anniversary copy.

    Great post!

    -Amaranthine

  9. jawajames

    I picked up a tattered white-covered copy (maybe a British printing) on Khao San Road in Thailand. and “What’s a duck?” is one of my favorite scenes.

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