We've had discussions before about whether the EU is accessible or not. Could someone pick up Fate of the Jedi: Outcast and fully understand what is going on, or would they be so removed and lost that they wouldn't enjoy it? These are legitimately complex questions, with opinions varying across fandom.
I personally feel that people might not quite get everything if they just jumped in right away, especially with later books that are predicated on the events of previous series. Granted, they can read other things later, but that might be problematic.
When I first really got into the EU, I started with Vector Prime. I heard cool things about the NJO series, and wanted to jump in. But I already had a basic understanding of the EU up to that point, from years of reading Essential Guides and Wookieepedia. And, thankfully, Vector Prime doesn't directly follow the events of a previous series (whereas both LOTF and FOTJ do).
So I propose creating an Essential Reading List for the post-ROTJ EU (and maybe a second one for the prequel era). This reading list is not a list of the best stories. Instead, it represents the most essential backstory components for readers to get into the modern series. Here is my take:
1- The Thrawn Trilogy (started it all, and we establish the geopolitical situation of the post-ROTJ universe, and we know where the characters are).
2- The Jedi Academy Trilogy (establishes that Luke Skywalker rebuilds the Jedi Order.)
**sidebar: at minimum, there should be cursory acknowledgement of the events of Dark Empire here, but I wouldnt' call it "Essential", especially since, while this series acknowledges it, really none of the later ones do.
3- Hand of Thrawn duology (ends the war between NR and Empire, brings Luke and Mara together).
4- The NJO hardcovers: Vector Prime, Balance Point, Star by Star, Destiny's Way, The FInal Prophecy, The Unifying Force (these take you through the NJO in a fairly quick and all-encompassing way)
5- The LOTF hardcovers: Betrayal, Sacrifice, and Invincible (while you will miss a lot of the steps-in-between, these books show the rise and fall of Darth Caedus quite well)
6- Certain Fate of the Jedi titles: let's say, Omen, Allies, Ascension (the Christie Golden titles) and Apocalypse (these cover the major events of the rise of the Lost Tribe and the rise and fall of Abeloth).
What say you guys?
I want to make more Essential Reading Lists in a bit.
"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
-Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear