The best mentalism books for beginners and to learn how to become a mentalist
In your quest to learn mentalism and to become a mentalist what are the best books about mentalism?
What are the best books about mentalism? This article includes five mentalism books. Well actually not all five books are about mentalism as such. Two of the books are devoted to reading nonverbal communication and how to influencing how people perceive you. Both important skills for mentalism. The other three mentalism books cover various mentalism tricks and techniques. The most comprehensive is the ‘13 Steps to Mentalism‘ book, teaching 13 mentalism techniques to practice. But if cold reading is an important mentalism technique you want to learn ‘Tricks of the Mind‘ and ‘The James Bond Cold Reading‘ are key books to read.
The best mentalism books
If you’ve decided to learn mentalism, you need to know what are the best books about mentalism to read? As with any learning experience, you need to invest in your training. Books are a good starting point to begin your learning journey.
But don’t only use mentalism books to learn this skill, as there are courses to learn from and master mentalism too.
Not everyone likes to read, as some prefer to either watch or listen. Everyone is different and each person has their preferred way of learning.
But if you are a person that likes to read, then there’s nothing like a good book to sit down with and take in all the techniques and tricks of the trade.
What to look for when buying a book about learning mentalism
If you search on Amazon under ‘mentalism books‘ there are over 340 results. That’s a lot of books on the subject of mentalism! Whilst many of these are only realted to the topic, you would still need to work your way through these.
So what should a good book on mentalism include? Well firstly, the book must contain tips and learning on the best mentalism tricks and techniques there are. Some of these books just don’t cut the mustard though.
Whereas others are jam packed with great advice on how to become a mentalist. Don’t give up the day job just yet, but I encourage you to take the plunge and start your learning experience today.
The best books about mentalism I recommend are included in a list below:
- This is 13 Steps to Mentalism – Corinda
- Tricks of the Mind – Derren Brown
- The James Bond Cold Reading – Julian Moore
- What Every ‘BODY’ is Saying – Joe Navarro
- The LIKE Switch – Jack Schafer and Marvin Karlins
- Practical Mental Magic – Theodore Annermann
- The Artful Mentalism of Bob Cassidy Volume 2: Fundamentals – Bob Cassidy
13 Steps to Mentalism
This review is about 13 Steps to Mentalism. Known as the bible for mentalists and mind readers. There are a few typo’s in the boo, but ignore these, as the content is great.
The ‘13 Steps to Mentalism‘ was written by Corinda and the full 13 steps were first published in the 1960’s.
Each step includes an in-depth study of a mentalism skill. Corinda includes useful tips and performance suggestions in each section about each mentalism trick or technique.
This book is probably one of the most read books on mentalism, and whilst some of the techniques may be a bit dated, they are a great starting point for beginners who are new to mentalism. Having said that, the old tricks are sometimes the best ones.
This book’s focus is not on mentalism theory, and is not packed-out with waffle. But instead is full of practical knowledge and ‘how to guides.‘ These how to guides are great for mentalism beginners as well as mentalists who are looking to expand their knowledge.
13 Steps to Mentalism includes 13 separate chapters, with each chapter explaining in detail about a different mentalism skill. Below I have listed the 13 chapters, with more detail on some.
The 13 chapters and the relevant mentalism skills include the following:
Step 1 – Swami technique or gimmick for mind reading tricks
The Swami Technique is a very simple trick to get started with as a beginner mentalist. The Swami Gimmick uses a small piece of plastic, which slots under your fingernail. As such it is very small so it can be easily disguised or hidden.
Attached to this small piece of plastic is a piece of pencil led, which can be used to write things, out of sight of your subject.
The Swami Technique is used to fool your subjects into thinking you’re a mind reader. Whilst this technique is very simple, it will leave your audience wondering how you did it. However, it does require practice to perform a mentalism trick using the Swami Gimmick, as you need to learn how to write words, names or dates behind your back.
Tips on how to learn this are all included in the book.
Step 2 – Pencil, lip, sound, touch and muscle reading – Another mentalism mind reading technique
Step two of the 13 Steps to Mentalism is all about pencil, lip, sound, touch and muscle reading.
Looking at each of these mentalism techniques on their own. The first is pencil reading.
Pencil reading technique
Pencil reading is the art of standing some distance away from a person who is writing with a pencil. The technique involves being able to discern from the visible movement of the pencil, what is being written.
You can combine pencil reading with the Swami Gimmick and create a mind-blowing performance. People will begin to believe in miracles when you put these two tricks together. Your subjects will be left wondering how on earth you did what you did.
Lip reading techinque
Lip reading is where you read a subjects lips. This is the same technique used by deaf people to understand what a person is saying. But in the case of a mentalist, the subject(s) don’t know you are lip reading them.
For this mentalism technique to work, you need at least two subjects.
What’s required is for one to whisper the answer to the other. The trick being that you’ve understood what they’ve whispered, but without them realising this.
This is the essence of the trick. It will leave your subjects wondering once more how you did what you did. Leaving them to think you’re able to mind reads.
Sound reading technique
Sound reading is the art of listening to people drawing images. The impression the audience get from this mentalism trick is one of extrasensory perception (ESP). Another trick included in this mentalism skill is the art of picking out names or other words written on different pieces of paper.
The mentalist is taught how to listen for which piece of paper or card has a specific name or place written on it, but without seeing it. Quite a clever and unique mentalism trick to learn.
Touch reading technique
There are many techniques listed in the 13 Steps to Mentalism book relating to touch reading. These include the Sujan location, the ‘Just Chance’ trick, which is a great impromptu type of mentalism trick. There are also marked playing card tricks and psychic sorting card tricks too.
Muscle reading technique
Muscle reading, which is also referred to as ‘Contact Mind Reading,‘ or also Hellstromism (so named after Hellstrom, the professor mentalist). This mentalism technique involves having your subject hide an object, for example a coin. You then take hold of the persons right hand and have them guide you to the object’s location.
This is done by asking them to say the objects location over and again in their mind.
Step 3 of 13 Steps to Mentalism – Mnemonics and mental systems
This step of the 13 steps deals with memory tests, quick calculations and mental arithmetic. Other techniques in this section of the book include ‘The Magic Square,’ ‘The Knights Tour,’ and chess trickery.
Other skills involve the likes of photographic memory and various mnemonics too.
Step 4 – Predictions
In this step of the book, Corinda includes tricks like ‘The Third Choice,’ ‘The Prophesy and the hanging prediction.
Step 5 – Blindfold and X-ray Eyes
This chapter of the book begins with this little conversation written by Corinda:
Step 6 – Billets
In this section of this mentalism book you see the ‘great minds think alike‘ trick, where two people from an audience end up choosing the same number.
Step 7 – Book tests
There are a number of mentalism tricks included in this chapter. These include the ‘Classic Swindle,’ ‘The missing Link,’ and ‘The Crossword puzzle.’
Step 8 – Two person telepathy
Everyone loves what appears to be telepathy in play, which is what chapter eight is about.
Step 9 – Mediumistic stunts
This chapter deals with mentalism techniques around mediumistic stunts and the spirit world.
Step 10 – Card tricks
Everyone loves a card trick and card tricks aren’t only performed by magicians. Mentalists too perform some great card tricks. Card tricks such as using a photographic memory and the incredible slate test are amongst a few of the card tricks included in this mentalism book.
Steps 11-12 of the 13 Steps to Mentalism
The final three chapters of the book include: Step 11 – The question and answer act; Step 12 – Publicity stunts; and Step 13 – Patter and presentation.
Order you copy of this mentalism book: 13 Steps to Menalism (Click to check current price on Amazon)
Tricks of the Mind
Derren Brown’s ‘Tricks of the Mind‘ takes the reader on a journey into the structure and psychology of magic.
In this book of over 380 pages Derren Brown teaches you how to read clues in people’ behaviour. He also provides help for you to spot liars too, but as with the book by Joe Navarro, Derren Brown also warns how difficult it is to spot a liar.
He puts it this way “It’s easier to identify signs that a story is true rather than look for elusive lying tells.”
I warn you now that this book is a very frank analysis into how the human mind works. He is very open and forthright with his ideas and point of view, which may offend some.
Tricks of the Mind is broken down into six main sections, as follows:
Section one – Disillusionment
In this first section, which is just one chapter in length, Derren Brown discusses some background. In this chapter he makes reference to religion. But he also talks about his first introduction to a hypnotic show and lecture.
This is where Brown got his idea to become a hypnotist, which is where his journey to become a renowned and famous mentalist began.
Section two – Magic
In this section he goes into some detail about a coin trick and a card trick. He also explains how perception is everything.
The chapter leads on to tricks using the power of suggestion. This chapter includes a section on ‘The Pendulum,’ which is about how you can use your mind to move a weight dangled from a piece of string.
This is a technique also used by psychologists to demonstrate to their clients that imagination takes over conscious will.
Brown then introduces muscle reading. He explains that he enjoys reading biographies of obscure and forgotten mentalists and similar performers. One such reading led him to discover and read about J. Randall Brown. Brown pioneered a new form of entertainment from him discovering when at school his apparent power to read fellow pupil’s minds.
Randal Brown was able to discover hidden objects by having fellow students place their hand on his forehead. He claimed he was able to read their mind, when in fact he was able to read muscle movement.
Derren Brown goes on in this chapter to explain how to learn muscle reading for use in your mentalism performances.
Section three – Memory
This section delves into the memory and how to use techniques of memory into performances.
He explains the ‘Linking System,’ which is a system you can use to link-up a random set of items using images and the imagination. He also teaches about how to remember long numbers and about memorising a deck of cards using the ‘Peg System.’
Some additional help and advice is given to remembering peoples names, which may not necessarily relate to learning mentalism as such. However, all of these learning techniques all add to understanding the mind and provide ideas on possible tricks you could perform.
Section four – Hypnosis and suggestibility
This section of Tricks of the Mind goes into depth about hypnosis. This section explains what hypnosis is and covers topics such as how to hypnotise. He covers off the dangers of hypnosis and how this can and has gone wrong for some stage hypnotists.
He also covers neuro-linguistic programming in this section of his book together with some tools for personal change. Subjects such as targeted rapport, phobia cure and self confidence are cover amongst others.
Section five – Unconscious communication
This section of his book begins with learning to read people, and then moves into spotting lies and giveaway tells.
He explains about the importance of establishing a baseline when reading people, as body language can be misinterpreted due to not understand a person’s baseline nonverbal communication. He explains about signs of truthfulness, as he sees that it’s easier to spot someone telling the truth versus someone telling lies.
Section six – Anti-science, pseudo-science and bad thinking
This section deals with thinking traps and how the human mind can jump to wrong conclusions when faced with information. This includes information about disease and gambling for example.
The section also discusses about the supernatural and pseudo-science. Where for example, science tends to focus on looking for what we already know.
He also visits the subject of superstitious thinking and the placebo effect.
This section of his book finishes with a look at mediums, psychics and charlatans.
In this section he goes into depth about cold reading and cold-reading trickery. So if you’re looking to learn cold reading, this section alone is worth buying the book for. Derren Brown is extremely adept at cold reading, to the extend that he appears to be a psychic medium when he does his cold reading sessions.
Order you copy of this mentalism book: Derren Brown Tricks of the Mind (Click to check current price on Amazon
The James Bond Cold Reading
This book is written by author Julian Moore and brings a modern slant to and old technique.
Julian Moore proves that the old ones are the best, all you need to do is to add the modern showmanship to what’s an old proven technique in mentalism.
As with the 13 Steps to Mentalism book, which is a list of old mentalism tricks and techniques, the old tricks are sometimes the best ones to use.
If cold reading is where you want to take your mentalism training, combine the learning in this book with that of Derren Brown’s Tricks of the Mind and you’ll not go too far wrong.
With this book you can become a master cold reader. If you learn the techniques explained and taught in this book, you’ll blow people’s minds away as you seemingly read their minds.
This book goes behind the scenes of cold reading and teaches you the principles behind this age-old technique. This book also comes with 10 flash cards, with the claim that you’ll learn the lines in hours and not days.
The book itself is split into three main sections, as follows:
Main sections of James Bond Cold Reading
Section one – The ‘classic’ reading plus various sections on The James Bond reading and scripts. Closing on retention. The first chapter of this section includes 12 ‘classic’ cold reading phrases. These phrases are worded in such a way that most people would agree that they apply to them, which is the basic principle behind cold reading. These 12 truisms have proved to be ‘correct‘ around 80% of the time in tests performed on subjects over a number of years.
Section two – This section deals with the application of cold reading and cold reading as ‘effect.’
Section three – The final section of this book deals with other characters, other lines and beyond stock lines.
Order you copy of this mentalism book: James Bond Cold Reading – (Click to check the current price on Amazon)
What Every BODY is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People
The book, ‘What every BODY is Saying‘ has been written by an ex-FBI agent Joe Navarro. He refers to his book as a way to ‘speed-read‘ people from an Ex-FBI’s perspective.
This book of all the mentalism books I’ve reviewed has the most combined reviews between Amazon.com in America and their UK site. For example, this book has over 1,200 reviews on Amazon.com.
Chapter one – Mastering the secrets of nonverbal communication
The first chapter is about how to master nonverbal communication. In other words how to read body language. As we know around 80% of communication between people is nonverbal or through body language.
Body language was one of the first things that Navarro learnt at a very early age. He was an exile from Cuba when he was just eight years of age.
He quickly found that he was able to understand the body language of his fellow classmates, even though he couldn’t speak much English. It was at this young age that he realised that body language was a universal language. It was a language he could translate and understand immediately.
He refers in his book about the human body as like a billboard. People transmit (advertise) what they are thinking via gestures, facial expressions and physical movements. He found that he could read this.
In the opening acknowledgement he says “he hopes you will have gained a profound knowledge of how we communicate non-verbally…and that your life will be enriched by knowing what every ‘body’ is saying.”
Chapter two – Living our Limbic legacy
In this chapter he refers to the brain as ‘the most amazing three pounds of matter found in the human body.’
The Limbic part of our brain cannot be cognitively regulated. This means the behaviours that are generated from the Limbic part of the brain run without your having any control over them. These control your behaviours, your habits and much more. Navarro explains how people’s behaviours should be given greater importance when interpreting nonverbal communications.
The nonverbal communication will always be honest. Whereas the neocortex (or the thinking part of the brain) is capable of dishonesty. Learning how to read the ‘honest’ nonverbal language over the dishonest verbal language forms a large part of learning mentalism. Whilst this book is not a mentalism book, the techniques taught and explained in it will help you to become a better mentalist.
Chapters three to seven – Body language from different the parts of the body
Chapters three to seven look further into the different signs of body language from parts of the body.
These include the feet and legs in chapter three; the torso, hips, chest and shoulders in chapter four; the arms in chapter five; the hands and fingers in chapter six; the nonverbal’s of face in chapter seven.
Chapter eight – Detecting deception
This chapter is caveated with a ‘proceed with caution‘ warning.
Joe Navarro explains how difficult it is to spot deceit. He even finds this difficult himself, even though he has been described as the human lie detector. He considers detection of lies as much more difficult than getting an accurate read on the other behaviours that are discussed in his book.
Order you copy of this mentalism book: Joe Navarro What Every Body is Saying (Click to check the current price on Amazon)
The Like Switch
Former FBI Special Agent Jack Schaffer specialised in behaviour analysis and recruiting spies. He has put his skills together in a book filled with his proven strategies on how to instantly read people. It also includes techniques on how to influence how people perceive you too. This enables you to easily turn on the ‘like switch.’
The Like Switch is more of a book for helping people and providing the tools needed for turning strangers into a friend rather than a mentalism book as such. However, the skills you’ll learn will be helpful in learning the art of reading people. A key skill in mentalism.
Dr. Schafer was a Special Agent for the FBI’s National Security Division’s Behavioral Analysis Program. He developed dynamic and breakthrough strategies for profiling terrorists and detecting deception. But he has evolved his techniques and strategies from the ‘on-the-battlefield tactics’ to day-to-day, but no less critical battle of getting people to like you.
For me the part that’s key to learning mentalism is the technique of how you can influence, attract, and win people over. But more importantly to learn and understanding about others’ behaviour.
Order you copy of this mentalism book: Dr. Jack Schafer Like a Switch (Click to check the current price on Amazon)
Other books you many want to consider as background reading.
The Artful Mentalism of Bob Cassidy – From what you’ll learn in this amazing mentalism book you’ll be able to perform incredible magic with skillful deception that will amaze your friends and family. The tricks are easy-to-learn & fun to perform. The Artful Mentalism of Bob Cassidy (Click to find the current price on Amazon).
Practical Mental Magic – Theodore Annemann – Another highly rated book where one of the greatest of all mental magicians reveals the secrets behind nearly 200 astonishing feats of mental magic. Theodore Annemann Practical Mental Magic (Click to check the current price on Amazon).
Spy the Lie – Philip Houston – This highly rated book is about how to spot deception the CIA way. Philip Houston Spot the Lie (Click to check the current price on Amazon)
Methods of Persuation – Nick Kolenda – This is also a highly rated book and is about how to use psychology to influence human behaviour. Nick Kolenda Methods of Persuation (Click to check the current price on Amazon).
Mentalism course learning in addition to mentalism books
In addition to reading mentalism books in your journey to become a mentalist, it’s also recommend to invest in mentalism courses too.
This course on mastering mentalism is one to consider. Master Mentalism (Click here to check the current price on this course).
I hope you enjoyed this article about what are the best books about mentalism
I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your journey to become a performing mentalist or magician (or both). Please comment below. Please also share your experiences, both good and bad.!
If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions either about mentalism or magic, I will try to answer them (or specifically about what are the best books about mentalism), please comment below with your questions.
There will also be many more articles about mentalism for you to read and learn about this fantastic skill.
Have fun and enjoy your journey to become a mentalist!