Essential Mentalism Books that Every Mentalist Should Read

So, you just watched Derren Brown’s latest TV special, or The Clairvoyants or Colin Cloud on America’s Got Talent, and now you want to become a mentalist. But, you have no idea how to learn mentalism. We’re here to help!

Despite their similarities, mentalism is quite different from magic. It is a deeper and more complex art form that relies on an understanding of human psychology and body language as opposed to the more straightforward sleight of hand typically used in magic tricks and card tricks. As a result, many mentalists prefer to learn mentalism from books instead of videos or instant downloads.

Filled with a variety of amazing tricks, wisdom and knowledge, mentalism books are one of the most effective ways to learn mentalism. To help you get started, here is a list of the top books for mentalists:

13 Steps to Mentalism by Tony Corinda

If you asked a group of master mentalists to suggest one book they think every mentalist should read, we’d bet nearly all of them would probably mention 13 Steps to Mentalism. One of the most popular mentalism books ever printed, 13 Steps to Mentalism covers nearly every major aspect of mentalism from swami gimmicks to predictions, books tests, telepathy, mnemonics and much more.

While it’s considered by many to be a cornerstone of learning mental magic, 13 Steps to Mentalism is not just for beginners. In fact, it is filled with enough information to last a professional mentalist for a lifetime and most modern mentalism tricks can trace their roots back to the lessons taught in 13 Steps to Mentalism.

13 Steps to Mentalism essential mentalism book

Practical Mental Magic by Theodore Annemann

In the poll above, those mentalists that didn’t list 13 Steps to Mentalism as the most important book a mentalist should read probably said Practical Mental Magic. Often mentioned in the same breath as 13 Steps to Mentalism, Practical Mental Magic is the other most popular mentalism book ever made.

Crafted by Master Mentalist Theodore Annemann, Practical Mental Magic features a variety of mental magic effects with books, secret codes, playing cards, paper and pencils, blindfolds, money and so much more. As it’s more clearly written and illustrated, some mentalists argue that Practical Mental Magic is slightly easier to comprehend for beginner mentalists that find 13 Steps to Mentalism dated and difficult to read.

However, why choose just one? Each book offers unique concepts and reading both is the best way to build the foundation needed to master mentalism.

Practical Mental Magic beginner mentalism book

Encyclopedia of Mentalism & Mentalists by Tony Corinda & William Rauscher

The Encyclopedia of Mentalism & Mentalists is like a “collector’s edition” or “director’s cut” of 13 Steps to Mentalism. In addition to offering all of the step-by-step instructions from the classic text, this special book features fresh visuals and a bonus section from William Rauscher known as Mindreaders: Masters of Deception. Examining the lives of some of the most famous mentalists in the world such as Max Maven, Ted Annemann, Dr. Jaks, Eugene Burger and more, Mindreaders: Masters of Deception is a masterclass on the importance of technique, performance and psychology in mentalism.

Combining both works into a gorgeous nearly 600-page book, the Encyclopedia of Mentalists & Mentalists should be on the shelf of any serious mentalist.

Encyclopedia of Mentalism & Mentalists

PRISM: The Color Series of Mentalism by Max Maven

Before cementing his place as one of the most successful mentalists in the world, Max Maven burst onto the scene with a series of powerful mentalism booklets known as The Color Series of Mentalism. Authored under his real name, Phil Goldstein, these pamphlets were overflowing with powerful and original mentalism effects.

Originally produced in extremely small quantities, each book would sell out almost immediately and fetch exorbitant prices on the secondary market. As a result of this incredible demand, Max Maven eventually re-released all 5 Color Series mentalism booklets as part of one comprehensive book called PRISM: The Color Series of Mentalism. Featuring more than 50 easy mentalism effects that can suit any performance style, PRISM is perfect for everyone from beginner mentalists to working professionals.

PRISM color series mentalism book by Max Maven

Mind, Myth & Magick by T.A. Waters

In the 1980’s, one of the most respected professional mentalists in the world T.A. Waters sold 21 booklets of his most amazing mental magic to an exclusive group of individuals. These effects remained his most guarded secrets until, for the first time ever, they were made available to mentalists around the world as part of an 800-page book known as Mind, Myth & Magick.

This iconic mentalism text features revised, updated and intricately illustrated explanations of more than 200 feats of mentalism and bizarre magick tricks. As a special bonus, Mind, Myth & Magick also includes an extensive re-examination of popular mental magic topics such as fortune-telling, psychometry, billet work and symbol tests.

Mind, Myth & Magick mentalism book by T.A. Waters

Pure Effect: Direct Mindreading and Magical Artistry and Tricks of the Mind by Derren Brown

Regularly performing on television and stages around the world from London to New York City, English Mentalist Derren Brown is one of the most well known and respected mentalists in the world. As Derren doesn’t frequently publish material for the public, Pure Effect and Tricks of the Mind are an extremely rare look behind the scenes at how this master mentalist exploits the limits of the human mind to create unforgettable psychological experiences.

Pure Effect is a mentalism book that explores the “whys” instead of the “hows” of magic. While there are incredible mentalism tricks taught in this book, most professional magicians agree that the greatest value comes from Derren’s unrivaled insights on the performance elements of mental magic.

Derren dives even deeper into the structure and psychology of mentalism with Tricks of the Mind. Through engaging and autobiographical stories, Derren exposes some of the biggest secrets of magic and mentalism from hypnosis to the power of suggestion and getting people to truly believe you have supernatural abilities.

Pure Effect Mentalism Book by Derren Brown

Psychological Subtleties by Banachek

The 3-part Psychological Subletities series features some of the best-selling mentalism books ever printed. In these mentalism classics, world-renowned mentalist Banachek teaches you how to leverage a comprehensive understanding of human nature to trick the mind and transform simple feats of “mental magic” into true “psychic entertainment”. These effects don’t require any sort of preparation and can be performed alone or used to enhance any pre-existing routine.

Psychological Subtleties Volume 3 by Banachek

Fundamentals of Professional Mentalism by Bob Cassidy

Filled with a lifetime of information obtained from real-world performances, Fundamentals of Professional Mentalism from legendary Mentalist Bob Cassidy is considered to be a must-read for anyone interested in mentalism or magic.

Don’t be fooled by the name though. Fundamentals of Professional Mentalism covers more than just the basics of mentalism. In fact, it answers many common questions that mentalists frequently have and provides the key insights needed to overcome the roadblocks preventing professional mentalists from taking their act to the next level.

Fundamentals of Professional Mentalism by Bob Cassidy

The Principles of Mentalism by Richard Osterlind

Considered to be one his most influential and insightful works, this incredible mentalism book from Richard Osterlind tackles many of the myths and misconceptions impacting the art of mentalism.

The Principles of Mentalism shares the secrets to effectively developing a performing style and making your mental magic more commercial and powerful. Whether you’re just starting out in mentalism or are a seasoned professional, the concepts and ideas in The Principles of Mentalism will help you take your mentalism and mind reading to heights you never thought possible.

The Principles of Mentalism by Richard Osterlind

Quick and Effective Cold Reading by Richard Webster

This comprehensive reference book on giving astonishingly accurate cold readings to anyone at a moment’s notice is considered by many to be a must-read book for any mentalist or psychic entertainer. Quick and Effective Cold Reading teaches you how to unlock the essential skill of offering short and factual details about a person you have never met. You’ll be able to talk to a complete stranger as if you’ve known them your entire life.

If you’re interested in learning more about cold reading and the art of psychological persuasion, you should also try to get your hands on a copy of The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading by Ian Rowland.

Quick and Effective Cold Reading by Richard Webster

Confessions of a Conjuror by Derren Brown

Derren Brown makes his second appearance on this list of essential mentalism books with a book that was actually created for a mainstream audience. That’s right. This isn’t a book filled with the magic trick secrets, but rather an exciting and hilarious backstage look at the unique life of a professional mentalist. Featuring Derren’s signature wit and charm, this book is both entertaining and inspiring for any mentalist.

Confessions of a Conjuror by Derren Brown

What Every Body Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People by Joe Navarro

Despite the fact that it’s not a traditional mentalism or magic book, the final book on this list is still an extremely useful resource for any mentalist.

In What Every Body Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People, former FBI Agent Joe Navarro discusses the tactics he uses to quickly read body language and analyze reactions, facial cues and other micro-expressions. These skills allow him to more effectively determine if a person is lying.

With a comprehensive understanding of nonverbal communication, mentalists can learn how to read minds in real life situations just like like Patrick Jane on The Mentalist.

What every body is saying: an Ex-FBI agent's guide to speed reading people by Joe Navarro mentalism book

Here’s the best part, you can probably grab What Every Body Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People at your local library. In fact, the library is actually a fantastic resource for learning magic tricks and mentalism. However, if you can’t get to the library, we also have some easy mentalism effects you can learn right now for free!