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While growing in popularity, tarot is often misunderstood because it’s often portrayed in pop culture as a form of predicting the future (with a tendency towards the ominous). But that’s not an accurate depiction: In fact, reading tarot cards can be a way to connect to your higher self or intuition.
“The tarot doesn’t tell you what is going to happen — it isn’t about taking away your agency — it outlines possibilities so you can take the actions you know can help bring about the future you want,” says Mark Horn, author of “Tarot and the Gates of Light, A Kabbalistic Path to Liberation,” who has taught at tarot conferences across the US and offers private readings and classes.
If you’re interested in reading tarot, one way to learn is by picking up some books to start. “Long before I learned tarot with a teacher, I started my journey with tarot books,” says Horn. “You can learn at your own pace, review when you need to, and it’s a lot less expensive to have three or four books from experts who can give you a range of thinking about the cards.”
Plus, “[books are] also helpful for those times when you get stuck, something many new readers experience a lot — psst…even seasoned pros have those moments!,” says Theresa Reed (“The Tarot Lady”), a professional Tarot card reader, podcast host, and author of “Twist Your Fate: Manifest Success with Astrology and Tarot” and “Tarot: No Questions Asked – Mastering the Art of Intuitive Reading.” “I do recommend having more than one tarot book. This way, you have different points of view, which can broaden your interpretative skills.”
Even professional readers continue to buy and use tarot books to expand their knowledge. “I’ve been reading cards for more than 50 years now and I continue to buy tarot books,” says Horn. “In some ways, tarot is like a jewel with many facets — each book, each teacher will give you another facet with beautiful insights.”
Whether you’re a true tarot beginner or already own multiple tarot decks, we have book recommendations for all skill levels, according to professional tarot readers.
The 9 best books for learning to read tarot cards:
Best tarot book for beginners
“‘Tarot For Yourself’ is one of the best books for tarot newbies [because] it’s a workbook with exercises geared to help the readers develop their own relationship to the cards,” says Reed. “There is also a helpful appendix in the back with interpretations for every card.” Horn agrees that this book may be the most authoritative tarot book available.
Best visual tarot book
If you’re a visual learner and want lots of images to help you learn, consider this book. “‘The Ultimate Guide to Tarot’ is geared to beginners, but everyone will find something to love about it,” says Reed. “Liz’s writing is easy to understand, which makes the learning process non-intimidating.”
Best quick reference tarot book
“Stephanie gives tarot readers a great way to quickly understand the numerical, astrological, and elemental meanings to better understand how everything is connected,” explains Maggie Wilson, the bestselling author of The Metaphysical Cannabis Oracle Deck. “The back of the book even has a quick reference guide to easily find the major or minor card meaning you’re inquiring about for their upright and reversed meanings.”
Best for intuitive tarot reading
“Rachel’s book discusses exactly how to use your intuition with the tarot and enhance your connection to your spirit and higher self,” says Wilson. “She reminds us that tarot is not a learned academic skill but a true connection with your own spirit and how the world communicates with you.”
According to Emily McGill, a tarot reader currently enrolled at Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Columbia University, “You can hear her voice as she tells stories and relates to the meaning of each card, but there’s so much imagery to work with and interpret on your own that you really do get to invite your intuition to play.”
Best for learning different tarot spreads
“‘1001 Tarot Spreads’ has literally every tarot spread you can think of and many you haven’t!” says Wilson. “For any issue or clarification you need, this book is my top recommendation for tarot spreads for everything from love, to travel, to how to handle pesky business associates.”
Best for understanding connections between the cards
Most tarot books cover each card individually, but this book goes a bit deeper. “It shows you the symbols that are shared between cards so that you see hidden connections and meanings that come alive when the cards show up together in a spread,” says Horn. “Every detail has a meaning, and this book is filled with these amazing hidden connections.”
Best for taking your tarot reading to next level
“Most tarot pros consider this book their ‘bible’ and it’s easy to see why — I have three copies in my house because I refer to it all the time!” says Reed. “No matter how many times I’ve read that book, I can always find something new and brilliant.”
Best advanced tarot book
“‘Advanced Tarot’ is packed with exceptional full-color details about the meanings of the cards on a master level,” says Wilson. “This book is a fantastic deep dive into the correspondences of the cards, how they relate to each other, and how you can enhance your intuition to decipher the meanings.”
Best combination tarot-and-astrology book
If you’re fascinated by astrology and tarot, Theresa Reed’s book allows you to combine both passions. “It teaches you how to use the tarot to literally create a higher quality of life by understanding the strengths of your birth chart and how the tarot can be a companion with your astrological signs,” says Wilson. “I love this book because it gives you another look at the tarot from a more personal perspective with your own birth chart and getting to know yourself better, which I believe is the key to a fantastic tarot reader.”
Lauren David is a Chilean-American freelance writer. She writes about food, travel, tech, wellness, and more and has been published in various publications, including Budget Travel, Greatist, Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, and Taste of Home. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time in her garden and by the ocean. See her portfolio on her website: https://laurendavid.net/
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