Reading through some of the best mentalism books is a great place to begin your mentalist journey. If you are trying to learn mentalism, it can be tough to decide where you should start or what information is essential. Books are ideal for gathering introductory info or even building on what you already know.
This article will provide details on 16 of the best mentalism books, with all the information you need to help you choose the right one for you. Keep reading to learn more.
13 Steps to Mentalism by Tony Corinda
This book is considered to be the bible for mentalists. It covers many topics relating to mental magic that are useful for beginners and can even be used for reference by more advanced mentalists. Since this book has so much depth, it’s often considered a must-read when learning mentalism. Read our review of the 13 Steps to Mentalism book here.
What Topics Are Covered in This Book?
This book comprehensively covers many introductory components of mentalism. Each of the elements discussed are key components to the performance art aspect of mentalism.
Billets are a clairvoyant performance technique for reading messages in an envelope or on a folded-up piece of paper.
A blindfold is a mentalist effect where the performer identifies random objects chosen by an audience.
A book test is a mentalism effect where a spectator in the audience is invited to read a random passage of their choice from a book. The mentalist then uses a technique to figure out what passage was read by the spectator.
Mentalists can use many card tricks in their performances. This book covers many of the popular card tricks that were developed by top mentalists, such as:
- Hans Trixer
- J.G. Reed.
Mastering card tricks can add a lot to a performance.
Mental Systems for Memory
Mentalism requires you to be able to memorize information quickly while performing. You can do this through mnemonics and other mental systems that help you train your brain to memorize information quickly and effortlessly.
Performance and Presentation
A big part of mentalism is the performance methods used. Many mentalist effects utilize psychological principles to perform tricks based on how people in an audience will perceive what they are seeing. This book will teach you skills to make your performance more believable.
This book covers information from many scientific principles that can help you predict how a spectator will react to something they see. Knowing how to predict someone’s reaction can help you perform your tricks effectively.
Many popular mentalists have performed publicity stunts performing seemingly impossible acts, such as walking over broken glass without getting hurt. This section of the book tells you how to set up a publicity stunt and perform it safely.
Question and Answer
A mentalist effect involves audience members writing a question and sealing it in an envelope. The performer then proceeds to answer the question before ever taking it out of the envelope.
Reading an Audience
Reading people is an essential part of performing a mentalism routine. This section covers how you can apply reading people’s:
- Body language
Learning all these elements can benefit you greatly in a mentalism performance.
In this section of the book, Corinda emphasizes how vital mood is when performing spiritualistic stunts. He also goes over the proper development of speech when performing this mentalist effect.
Mentalism utilizes mental mind tricks based on psychological principles of how people see and interpret things. These principles can be used to perform telepathic mind tricks that create a false sense of reality.
Tricks Using a Swami Gimmick
A swami gimmick is a prop that is used in mentalism to create illusions. This section of the book covers how to effectively use a swami gimmick in your performances to make your tricks believable.
Why Is This Book Essential?
The numerous topics covered in “13 Steps to Mentalism” show why this book is essential for a mentalist to read. Any mentalist will need to apply these techniques at some point, so picking up this book would be a great idea.
Practical Mental Magic by Theodore Annemann
Theodore Annemann is known as one of the greatest mentalists of all time. In this book, he covers the secrets behind nearly 200 mentalist acts. The acts covered in this book include:
- Billets and pellets
- Mind reading
- Miracle slate routines
- Thought Transmission
And these are just a few of the acts covered. All of the included acts can amaze an audience and are great to add to any mental magician’s repertoire.
Along with the detailed diagrams on these acts, Theodore Annemann also goes over performance techniques, diversions, and staging that can bring your performance to a new level.
Billets and Pellets
Tricks using billet and pellet reading are covered comprehensively in this book. These are tricks that can amaze an audience through mind-reading or psychic effects.
Dead or Alive
Dead or alive is a mentalism effect that you perform while blindfolded the entire time.
- A random audience member is picked to write down the name of one dead person and one person who is alive on separate pieces of paper.
- The papers containing the names are then shuffled around so the performer can’t tell which one contains each name.
- The performer then proceeds to correctly figure out which one has the dead name and which one has the alive name written on it.
Dead or alive is a good trick that you can add to your performance, and the techniques are covered comprehensively in this book.
This book covers many mind-reading tricks that you can implement into a mentalism performance. The techniques in this book can help you predict reactions based on psychological studies and principles. This can help you pull off tricks where it seems like you are reading the minds of people in the audience.
Miracle Slate Routines
Miracle slates are a spiritual mentalism effect where you create an illusion that a spirit wrote a message on a previously blank slate.
- The performer shows the blank slate to the audience.
- They proceed to select a card, choose a number, ask a spirit a question, etc.
- The performer then reveals that the answer has been magically written on the slate.
This is a great mentalism effect that can captivate an audience when properly performed. This book does an excellent job of outlining this trick for proper performance and technique.
Money mentalism consists of coin tricks that you can use in a performance. This book goes in-depth to explain the proper technique and teach the sleight of hand that you will need to pull off these effects.
The prophecy is a mentalism effect where the performer appears to read someone’s mind. This trick requires you to be ready to perform at any time with no preparation and no gimmicks.
The trick involves the performer initially writing down a number on a card that they put face down and do not show to anyone. They then ask an audience member to write down several birth years and ages of people in their life. The audience member then totals up all the ages they have written down.
By the end, it is discovered that the performer has successfully predicted the number that this random audience member has written down. The prophecy is a highly effective trick that will keep an audience thinking. This book does a great job of outlining the steps to effectively performing this mentalist effect.
Thought transmission is another mind-reading mentalism effect that involves creating the illusion of telepathy. This is based on psychological tendencies that can help you persuade someone to think something without directly telling them, thus creating the illusion of thought transmission.
Why Should You Read This Book?
This book is an excellent read for mentalists of many skill levels, from beginner to advanced. It will teach you the techniques and methodology behind some of the best-known tricks in mentalism. Reading this book will ultimately bring your performances to a new level.
PRISM: The Color Series of Mentalism by Max Maven
This book is a great value because it is essentially five books in one. Max Maven originally published five short booklets that eventually became known as the color series. This color series was rare due to there being a limited number of copies that were printed. After years, all five booklets were published in this one book, PRISM.
PRISM covers many popular mentalism effects, including:
- Desire: The principles that go along with predicting what someone is thinking or what they want.
- Four-sided triangle: A card trick that is used to predict a random selection from a spectator.
- The spirit is willing: A spiritual mentalism stunt that uses the perception of ESP to predict what someone is thinking.
All of the contents in this book will be useful for you to implement into a mentalism performance. If you are searching for a detailed book with years of material, then this would be a great one to pick up.
Psychological Subtleties by Banachek
Banachek is a mental magician whose performances are well-known for their psychological aspects. Implementing psychological principles into your routines is a great idea that will leave your audience stunned.
In this book, Banachek outlines psychological principles that he has perfected and utilized for years. These are subtle effects that will add a lot to your performance techniques and believability.
While you may not want to use these psychological subtleties throughout an entire performance, they are a great aspect that you can sprinkle in throughout to make certain tricks have a better effect on the audience.
This book is a valuable book for mentalists of all skill levels since it will help you brush up on your performance techniques. Implementing some of these psychological subtleties will make your performances stand out, and your audience think.
Pure Effect: Direct Mindreading and Magical Artistry by Derren Brown
In this book, Derren Brown talks about modern mentalism techniques that you can add to your performances. Many mentalism books talk about classic effects that have been used for decades or even centuries. Derren Brown looks to push past much of that and begin a new era of mentalism.
With this book Derren Brown covers:
- Modern tricks: Brown showcases modern tricks created by himself and other mental magicians that will amaze any audience.
- Performance techniques: Derren Brown showcases modern techniques that he created to increase the success of performances.
- Supernatural effects: This book covers many supernatural and spiritual mentalism effects. This is one of Derren Brown’s specialties as a performer. He goes through many of the techniques he uses to perform these tricks in front of an audience.
This book pushes the boundaries with a modern take on mentalism. It showcases many modern techniques and tricks of the trade that will bring your performances to a new level.
Mind, Myth & Magick by T.A. Waters
“Mind, Myth & Magick” is an 800-page book filled with tips, tricks, and knowledge, based on T.A. Waters’ years of experience studying and performing mental magic. In this book, he covers:
- Bizarre magic
- Book and symbol tests
- Mind reading
With extensive knowledge about each of these principles and over 200 mentalist effects, this book is worth reading for both new and more advanced mentalists.
Naked Mentalism by Jon Thompson (Vol. 1, 2 and 3)
The “Naked Mentalism” series by Jon Thompson outlines three volumes of comprehensive material that you can implement into your mentalism routines.
This book series covers mentalist concepts such as:
- Coin predictions: Tricks with coins that involve the performer using mentalism effects to perform tricks such as accurately predicting coin flips. Many coin tricks involve aspects of probability and dexterity, both of which are covered in this book.
- Performance techniques: This book is very technique-oriented and covers a wide range of techniques that you can use to increase the effectiveness of your performances.
- Priming: A method that involves asking audience members a series of questions such as colors, shapes, types of flowers, etc., before a mind-reading trick is performed. Priming can help the performer gauge the audience’s reactions and set them up to answer a question in a specific way.
Overall, the “Naked Mentalism” series covers a wealth of information that can help you improve your performances. It is an excellent read for intermediate performers who want to gain further knowledge about mentalism.
Tricks of the Mind by Derren Brown
With the book “Tricks of the Mind,” Derren Brown dives into the structure and psychological elements of mental magic. This book discusses aspects of mentalism such as:
- Hypnosis: In part of this book, Derren Brown discusses his viewpoints on hypnosis. He believes that it does not exist and explains why.
- Powers of suggestion: Derren Brown believes in the power of suggestion in performances. In this book, he gives tips on using suggestion to influence people while performing a mentalism routine.
- Reading people’s behavior: Reading behavior and body language is a big part of the psychological aspects of mentalism. Knowing how to do this can help you read an audience and gauge their responses.
- The paranormal industry: Derren Brown discusses the paranormal industry in this book. He does believe that spiritual stunts can make good performances, but he also exposes some frauds who work in the paranormal industry.
- Tips to improve your memory: Being able to remember things quickly is a big part of performing a mentalism performance. Derren Brown gives some time-tested concepts on how you can improve your memory.
This book is a good one to read if you are looking to improve your performances and learn more about the psychology behind mentalism. Some of Derren Brown’s opinions are controversial, but the concepts he lays out are valuable and worth reading.
The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading by Ian Rowland
A big part of mentalism is knowing how to read people. In this book, Ian Rowland goes over the fundamental principles of cold reading. These are techniques that are used by:
- Tarot readers
All 38 techniques that this book outlines can be applied to mentalism. These techniques can make your tricks more effective and your performances better. Check out this book if you want to learn more about the principles of cold reading.
Confessions of a Conjuror by Derren Brown
Derren Brown uses this book to delve into some of his popular conjuring tricks. Throughout the book, he talks about many detailed aspects of these tricks and the psychology behind them. He also uses this book to discuss:
- Fundamentals of psychology: Knowing the fundamentals of psychology is crucial when performing a mentalism routine. This book covers many basic psychological principles and shows how they apply to mental magic.
- The history of magic: Derren Brown goes over an exciting overview of the history of magic. During these sections, you see who some of Brown’s influences have been and how they have shaped his performances.
- Tips for performances: Derren Brown is a performer, and he likes to talk about performance techniques in many of his books. This book talks about many different tricks he implements to make his performances better.
Derren Brown uses this book to showcase how you can apply psychology and knowledge about the history of magic to your routines. If you are interested in learning some of the fundamental principles of mental magic, this book is a good starting point.
Fundamentals of Professional Mentalism by Bob Cassidy
While this book is titled the “fundamentals” of mentalism, it goes much further than the basic principles. This book delves into many mentalism topics, including:
- Common misunderstandings: Bob Cassidy uses part of this book to clear up some common misconceptions about mentalism. This can be great information for beginners to avoid some of the common pitfalls that others experienced when first getting started.
- Mentalism effects: This book details numerous mentalism effects and tricks that you can use in a performance. Many of these are mentalist effects that have stood the test of time and will keep an audience’s attention.
- Psychological, physical, and presentational principles: This book covers how all these aspects go together to make a performance stand out. Some books tend to focus on only one of these aspects, but they all affect the quality of your routine.
- Rehearsal: Rehearsing your routine is essential to be prepared for your performances. This book goes into detail on how you should rehearse. Many other books do not cover rehearsal in as much detail as this one does.
- The psychology of mentalism: Fundamental psychological principles and how they apply to mentalism.
Ultimately, this book offers knowledge that can be valuable to anyone who wants to learn more about mentalism. It is suitable for beginners, but intermediate or advanced mentalists could learn a thing or two from what is discussed within these pages. Consider reading this book if these topics interest you.
The Principles of Mentalism by Richard Osterlind
This book is a quick read, 88 pages long, but it offers a wealth of information within those pages. This book focuses on presentation. Richard Osterlind outlines different tricks and tactics he implements in his mentalism performances to keep the audience engaged.
This book is suitable for new mentalists or more advanced performers who want to review the basic principles.
Quick and Effective Cold Reading by Richard Webster
This is a great cold reading book that applies the concepts presented directly to mentalism performances. This book outlines how to effectively read people that you know nothing about. Cold reading is an essential skill for those in the psychic performance industry.
This book is an effective guide if you are new to mentalism and want to learn more about cold reading.
What Every Body Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People by Joe Navarro
Joe Navarro is an ex-FBI agent who outlines the essential principles of speed-reading people in this book. Speed-reading people is essential for mentalism performances. It will help you:
- Avoid pitfalls
- Interpret attitudes and behaviors
- Look for misleading behavior
This book will help you improve your speed-reading ability by teaching you:
- Ancient survival instincts that influence body language
- How nonverbal behavior communicates authority
- How thumbs, eyelids, and feet reveal someone’s moods and motives
- Nonverbal communication that establishes trust
- Powerful behaviors that show our confidence and reveal our real sentiments
- Why you shouldn’t judge someone’s feelings based on their facial expressions
Learning all these principles can make you a better performer and will benefit you in all areas of life.
Building Blocks by Luke Jermay
Luke Jermay’s “Building Blocks” gives in-depth details about the power of suggestion in a mental magic performance. Learning suggestion techniques will help you influence an audience and make their experience better. These tips will benefit anyone who wants to become a better performer.
This book also outlines many mentalism effects that Luke Jermay has used in his performances. Learning these tricks can help you entertain audiences and bring your performances to a new level.
Pick up a copy of “Building Blocks” if you are looking for a comprehensive guide to suggestion techniques.
Devious Realities by Peter Turner
“Devious Realities” is a great book filled with numerous mentalism effects that Peter Turner created. Peter Turner is a big believer in the dual-reality principle. The dual-reality principle is centered around the idea that different people will find different meanings to certain words when used in a conversation.
Learning the dual-reality principle can help you influence an audience and is an excellent suggestion technique to set up many of the tricks that Peter Turner outlines in this book. Some of the tricks that are covered include:
- Drawing out personality: The performer asks a random audience member to think of an image. They proceed to ask that audience member their name and what they aspired to be when they were younger. The performer is then able to successfully draw the image that the audience member was imagining.
- Geminus cogito: A card trick where someone can guess the number and suit of a playing card chosen randomly while they are on the phone.
- Mind plant: An audience member is told to think of a random image. The performer then asks them three questions that have nothing to do with the image they are imagining. The performer is then able to successfully draw a picture of the image they were imagining.
- No brainer calculator: The performer predicts a number of weeks or months in advance of the performance. While performing, they ask audience members to add or subtract numbers on a calculator randomly. By the end, the final number is the one that the performer predicted.
If you are looking to learn some modern mentalism tricks that are based around the dual-reality principle and suggestion techniques, you should consider picking up a copy of “Devious Realities.”
Which Mentalism Book is a Good Starting Point for You?
If you are trying to decide which of these mentalism books you should start with, consider the following:
- Interests: What topics interest you?
- Modern vs. classic: Do you want to learn about modern mentalist effects or classic tricks that have stood the test of time?
- Skill level: Are you a beginner, intermediate, or advanced?
If you think about these aspects, you will have a good idea of which book will be the best starting point for you. Ultimately, all of these are good books to learn about mentalism. Remember to keep your mind sharp and that you can always learn more to improve your mental magic performances.