Agreed! Those clever writers/editors have created a pretty cohesive universe. Seems like a lot of us start somewhere in the middle but references and new characters quickly create a list of books to go seek out and read.
The integrated universe is the key. I'd read a few series in the past - the Furys, the Shatnerverse, etc. But aside from that the books all seemed very standalone. Necessarily nothing changed from the start of the book to the end, as obviously the TV series was still ongoing.
That's all changed now, I just didn't realise it.