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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The spooky, the mysterious...the bizarre! » » Best cold reading book (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Profile of krantis
Hi there -
I would suggest the Herb Dewey Series :
Maybe out of print though
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Inner circle
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Profile of mota
If you are looking for a magician's mindset book you should get Lee Earle's, "The Classic Reading" which is his take on the classic Forer and Shekel (?) classic stock reading.

Unlike the books listed above (except for Richard Webster's books) when you finish this you will actually be able to do a reading.

As far as transfering readings from Webster's palmistry to other types, that would be a mistake...there is nothing stronger than palmistry.

I've told this story often, but once more seems needed. Many years ago I was hired by a college to do readings for five hours. They got 3-5 minute readings and I offered them a choice. They could pick numerology, palmistry, tarot, aura, handwriting analysis, runes, or tarot.

In five hours one person picked tarot, everyone else picked palm. My experiences, and the experiences of those I know who do readings (as opposed to those who "intellectualize" about them) confirm this. It is palm reading people want...nothing else is even close.

Truth be told, get Webster's "Quick and Effective Cold Reading". It is actually straight palm reading, with his lines for what the lines mean...not just cold reading lines...it takes a little work (sounds of magicians running away) but has paid off for me, both financially and in personal satisfaction and growth, more than anything I have ever done...and I've been doing this type of thing since 1963.

For a shorter version of Webster's palmistry I repeat my earlier recommendation of Doug Dyment's flash cards...these are the basic palmistry lines done on flash cards.
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Liverpool, UK
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Profile of teejay
Wendy seems to have the right track
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Sheffield, UK
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Profile of DYL
I would second the advice given by mota. Get Doug Dyments flash cards. These are a great reference in a very nice handy form. Also at a very good price.

They are based on Richard Websters Quick and Effective Cold Reading. I would advise you to buy both these items.
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Profile of Vision
Im putting my vote for Ian's book. Not because he's a friend, but because I've seen him do cold readings before and it's just fantastic to watch. This is where I learned my cold reading as well. If I would recommend other books than that... hmm... Richard Webster, any title will work.

The only thing me and Ian disagree upon is that he doesn't think you need a system, such as tarot- and palm-reading, as a cold reader. Im not saying you desperately need one, but I like knowing a system, it's like a cue card on someones hand, or cards.

Anyway, have a nice day!

check it out for new products.
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Profile of Drewmcadam
Having read all of them. And studied a few of them. I have, for he past few years, actually made money, and a reputation, from readings... So, if you want theory and discussion, fine - read what you want. If you want to blow people's socks off, then don't just read, but STUDY, and put into practice, Ian Rowland's book. Listen to those who are actually DOING it, rather than just pontificating. Me? I'm DOING it. End of story.

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Profile of Withnail
Thanks for all your help on this Smile
Yet again that oaf has destroyed my day
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Profile of FrOrgenLaVey

I dare to say that my favorite book on the matter is "IT MUST BE MIND READING" by George Anderson.
"Do what thou wilt, That is the whole of the law"

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Profile of magic in mind
Well ill say mr rowlands book is an encyclopedia on cold readings.its worth every penny.he does at the start of the book talk about using tarot and palmistry etc.and does give examples of readings using tarot.so unless eveyone else has been reading a different book? ill say trade craft has some good ideas too .like to people who havent thought of it.using the office of national statistics.mr rowlands book is very well written and full of amusing anecdotes well done sir.
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Profile of mota
OK, since you'all seem to like the "fake it" approach, here are two options.

First, the best stock reading I have ever seen is in the book, "The Mental Mysteries of William Larsen Sr" by William Larsen. I believe it is called the life span reading. There are a few stock readings in there but I thought the others were just OK. This reading, the one that goes, "so far your life has been lived in seven cycles", is truly astounding and is such a good fake it will play as powerfully as a real good geniune psychic reading. If you are going to learn the stock reading approach, find this. (I will not send copies, so please don't ask).

The second idea comes from a late friend of mine, Tony Andruzzi. He sent me this sheet, I will copy it here, misspellings are in the original. I don't know who else may have gottent this, or even if it was eventually published somewhere...so for no other reason than for the hell of it, here for posterity are...


Tired of the same old stock cold reading lines? Try some of these on your next sitter.

As a child, you were much shorter.
You like gay colors, but you find yourself avoiding unpleasant odors.
An older person you don't know doesn't really care about you.
You dislike driving in the dark...especially nails.
You have an overweight friend who is fat.
While you may feel that you're underpaid, you're worth it.
Though you feel rejection, you merit it.
Your right leg is longer than your left arm.
Though you're old-fashioned in certain respects, you still like modern toilets.
Although you don't believe in astrology, this is characteristic of your sign.
You're not a user, but you do enjoy your Visa card.
You would not hurt any animal larger than yourself.
You would make an excellent counseler or philosopher if it weren't for your IQ.
Your lucky number is a winning one.
You are very optimistic about all the bad things that have happened to you.
You are able to give good advice to anyone who will listen.
You have recently had a severe gas problem.
You find great pleasure in joy.
Through perseverance, you'll continue to try.
You find pain hurtful.
Emotionally, you let your feelings stand in the way.
Any confusion you experience is due to not understanding the situation.
You have an excellent sense of humor if you understand the joke.
Under stress, you find yourself getting edgy.
You have an aversion to unpleasant things.
Your favorite color is the one you like best.
Your artistic potential is only hampered by your talents.
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Curtis Foster
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Profile of gothxman
As a reviewer of Ian's book, I'd recommend it as an exhaustive encyclopedia of COLD READING... the FACTS... just the facts, ma'am... beginner or advanced, this book is a foundation for learning about and understanding just what cold reading is in its many devious applications (including business)...

if you want to study 'real' pychic materials, study miriam ruthchild, the writing styles of the book of isaiah in the hebrew bible/old testment, revelation in the new, nostradomas and the complete writings of the easter bunny (unabridged)...

oh... and no has mentioned the GENIOUS of Ron Martin; his tarot and palm reading books are a must...

my advice? start with ian's full facts to see/get the WHOLE picture... move on to earle's gentle art of cold reading to get you started... then martin's tarot book and webster's psychimetry a-z to read...

good luck finding dewey or larsen sr...

hope this helps...

curtis foster

ps. don't think mentalism and comedy could/should/would mix?
I didn't either until I saw ian perform in his lecture video... not only was I amazed and, more importantly, entertained, I laughed my @ss off with his self depracating charm and his very UNmagicianlike UNcondescending compassion for his audience...
populus vult decipi: people want to be deceived
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Profile of enriqueenriquez
Honestly, I believe that the main question in this topic is right, but any attempt to address it straight will be wrong. The quest for the best book on cold reading is a deceptive path. This is not boxing. There are no champions. Besides, Cold reading is a practice, not a theory. If you are interested in Cold Reading you should, first, be curious about people and start observing them everywhere. You will immediately start finding patterns. In fact, you already know some cold reading. Books are great to discover that you didn’t knew you know.

Then, there are plenty books that will help you a lot. Many of them have been mentioned in this thread. IMHO, you should, sooner or later, read them all. Choose the order you like (CR, like magic or mentalism, are mainly things you have to learn for yourself so, only you know the best pace and rhythm for you) and start studying them. Of course, very few people will have the money to get them all, but CR is not something you learn over a weekend so, don’t worry. You have all your life to read the existent, and upcoming, bibliography.

“Passion” and “great interest” are related. One book won’t suffice if you are really interested on CR, actually, not even the existent books on CR will be enough if you are interested in detect, understand, organize and predict human nature.

Doug Dyment provides a great resource to understand what is out there, from the point of view of a a trickster. I don’t mean to offend anybody with that. But there are thousands of other books about readings and readers out there, written and published by and for people who really believes their thing, that are worth reading. There are also hundreds of books on social psychology or cognitive research, that are extremely insightful.

This days I have been reading BLINK, a book by Malcolm Gladwell.

Take a look at how the author describes his book:

“It's a book about rapid cognition, about the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye. When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions. Well, "Blink" is a book about those two seconds, because I think those instant conclusions that we reach are really powerful and really important and, occasionally, really good.”

Sounds familiar? Now, how many times you think the concept of Cold Reading is mentioned? Not one. ZERO! This guy does an extensive research in the field of intuition, and how to order and rationalize your intuition to become more assertive judging people, but he doesn’t bother to mention that there is a craft called CR that applies very similar concepts and have similar goals. Why is this? because he has the same problem we have: we live inside our little box, reading only books written and endorsed for the top names in our field, without finding the connections between the kind of knowledge we pursue and the knowledge held on some other, different, and maybe apparently distant fields. DON’T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE.

Besides that, you will like to see how a “real” psychic works. Since we are all so convinced that they all use CR, well... pay for a reading. Go and see how it works for someone who make a living using it. Watch John Edward doing his show. Many people here says he is terrible doing CR. Well, take a look at his work, see what you can learn, what you can detect. Define why is he “so bad” if that’s really the case.

And, of course, in the meantime, practice. Practice like crazy. Cold reading is a living craft and the only great “book” on the subject, is the one you will assemble for yourself in your mind, combining experience and knowledge.

This is a wonderful topic.

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Profile of Bambaladam
Best cold reading book = any book that teaches you to touch them not to wow them.

Touch not Wow. Repeat after me: This is not a trick. Touch not wow.

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Profile of enriqueenriquez
On 2005-03-08 08:49, Bambaladam wrote:

Touch not Wow. Repeat after me: This is not a trick. Touch not wow.


Beautiful Bamba!
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Profile of enigmatic
In my point of view, the best Cold Reading's books are :

Red Hot Cold Reading (H. Dewey)
The king of the Cold Readers (H. Dewey)
Psycho-Babble (H. Dewey).
The Dance (Brad Henderson)
The 5 vol on the psychic reading by Bascom Jones.
All books by Myriam Ruthchild.
The mental mysteries and other writings by Larsen (really good book for the stock reading and very inspiring book).
Richard Webster' books.
Wonder Readings (Knepper and Sykes)
Tales from the Tarot (Hobrin).

But all these books are not strictly of use to anything if you do not experiment. Furthermore, everything depends which type of cold reading you looking for : one to one or cold reading for the show ? Because it's not the same thing and the same audience.

If you looking for one to one reading, I agree with Mota. Personnally, Full fact of cold reading by M. Ian Rowland doesn't work for the real work. It's just a cold reading for public demonstration writes by a magician for the magicians. For years I make readings regularly and If I had to use the techniques of Mr Rowland for one to one reading, I would fail, for sure. His techniques doesn't work for the real people who want a true psychic reading with true questioning about themselves and the mystery of the life. But I agree, that there are fun things only within the framework of the show-buisness.

Finally, there are none book better than other book. All depends of your goal and your audience. But I'm sure of an important thing : If you intellectualize the cold reading, you are nothing. The only important thing is the experience !
Real vision is the ability to see the invisible. (Jonathan Swift).

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Profile of Mystician
Just had to say, mota, LOL. Those are great.

So, I just won "The Dance" on eBay,(for $34 postagepaid, I had to buy it!) but I've read repeatedly here that this book is not for the beginner - so let's narrow it down a bit ..what about books specifically good for leading up to The Dance ?
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Profile of Bambaladam
My favourite four reading items for the craft:

Quick and Effective Cold Reading by Richard Webster (can actually be replaced by any other "beginner" book from him that includes a system, aura reading for fun and profit is good)

How To Give Fun And Amazing Psychic Readings Volume 1, DVD by Stuart Cumberland (My favourite beginner's source)

Initiations by Alexander Thomas, book plus cassette tape (this is simply awesome and covers some finer details on how to go from good to great)

Counseling techniques for the private reader by Gene Nielsen, not because it makes you a counselor (it doesn't), not because it teaches you to give advice and solve people's problems (it doesn't) but because it teaches you to help people help themselves. This book will also help you feel good about charging for your services.

Note in addition to these you will need real books on the system you intend to use. I recommend Richard Webster's books again. All his books at Llewellyn are great stuff.

Please note those recommendations are for one-on-one readings in "real life" situations, not for the stage. For stage work I recommend good acting and Richard Webster's Psychometry A-Z, Gene Anderson's Dynamite Mentalism or Gene Nielsen's Cool Readings.

I will give you a freebie here: If you want to give readings from the stage, you can still do it without "cold reading". Why not do a set of 3 card tarot spreads before you go on stage, and use them for your onstage readings? You can continue to learn your system (in this case tarot) without having to pump or guess a lot, and your time spent will be useful should you wish to give one-on-one readings later. Not to mention your readings will never be the same if someone should want to see you more than once. If you want to impress people with wonderful facts you "couldn't know" (completely irrelevant in a real reading), there are better methods than hurling letters out and trying to make people agree with you.

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Profile of nique
Ian Rowland's Complete Facts Book is pretty exhaustive, and gives you plenty to work with.
"ChairLess - A Chair Prediction"

"Epique - A Mental Epic"

"TAP - The Assignment Prediction"

PM or email me for details:


Reviews here:



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Profile of Bambaladam
I think the full facts book is a bad choice for a beginner, but I think this is a matter of attitude that has been discussed many times previously. I also wouldn't recommend Dewey for a beginner.

I think the most important thing to think of as you start out is what the reading situation is, how you're approaching it, what you want to achieve with it and how to develope the courage to actually have serious conversations with people you've never met and to offer sincere interest in their lives. The books and other sources I mentioned above are great for this. I don't think the Full Facts book does this well, what I think it does best is offer a method explanation for a certain kind of reading. I think a beginner would be much better served by my suggestions.

They will also not try to teach you contempt for other psychic readers, a good thing if you ask me as you may need to get along with these people at some point if you want to give readings.


Oh and also,

The Dance is great, but it is in no way for beginners.

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Profile of enriqueenriquez
Great posts Bamba.

You addressed there a very important point: the contempt that mentalists doing readings feel for other readers, and the need of getting rid of it. After all, what the audience/inquirer sees is not too different.

One of the main problems of mentalism is the conceptual schizophrenia.

On 2005-03-09 08:55, Bambaladam wrote:

I will give you a freebie here: If you want to give readings from the stage, you can still do it without "cold reading". Why not do a set of 3 card tarot spreads before you go on stage, and use them for your onstage readings?


Paolo Cavalli has a great effect at the end of his book Omicron, using Tarot Cards on stage where you can perform readings and a live/death test. Is one of my favorites in the book.
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