We like to think that everyone we meet has good intentions within friendships, relationships, and work dynamics.
But, sadly, this isn’t always the case.
If you ever feel manipulated, coerced or confused in social situations, then investing resources in reading people might help.
But with so many books about this topic, it can be difficult to know where to start.
So read on for some suggestions, whether you’re looking to understand social dynamics, utilise body language effectively, or even notice a manipulator before they charm you with a persuasive first impression.
The best books on reading people
1. What Everybody Is Saying: An ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-reading People – Joe Navarro
Well, if anyone out there is going to be good at reading people, it’s an ex-FBI agent.
This book promises a full explanation of how to “speed-read” people, and it certainly delivers.
With advice on how to understand the nonverbal gestures and behaviours, as well on tips on how to use them to your advantage, this book provides a simple, easy to read guide on becoming a body language sleuth.
However, while this book is detailed and comprehensive, it’s more for educational purposes than just for fun.
So if you’re looking for a light, entertaining read, maybe forego this option.
Much of the information comes across as glaringly obvious for those who don’t struggle with typical social interactions, so keep your own prior understanding in mind pre-purchase.
2. Dark Psychology: The Ultimate Guide to Learn How to Analyse People, Read Body Language and Stop Being Manipulated with Secret Techniques Against Deception, Brainwashing, Mind Control and Covert NLP – Abraham Lee
If you’re after a book all about body language with a bit of an edge, this is recommended.
Rather than covering basic body language clues we’re already familiar with, this book spins the information you may or may not already know into a way to protect yourself from people who’d otherwise take advantage.
You’ll emerge with a stark understanding of the simple but effective ways of potential manipulation, and will feel empowered as a result, understanding exactly how to protect yourself such situations.
While it’s a detailed read, some may struggle to relate, as many of the examples the author uses are a bit too farfetched to take seriously for the everyday person.
Although the book attempts to be unisex, with all genders equally prone to manipulation, the author, unfortunately, appears to write more specifically for women.
3. How to Analyse People: 21 Fundamental Techniques to Interpret Body Language, Personality Types, Human Psychology and Secretly Analyse People – David T Abbots
This book takes an original stance on interpreting body language and human psychology and focuses specifically on using simple but effective techniques to rebrand yourself, whether on romantic dates or in the workplace.
So if you’re seeking positive changes in your life, this might be a good option.
However, this book doesn’t invest itself too deeply in precise descriptions and is far more of an overview of the subject area.
So, if you’re looking for something highly specific, then perhaps you require additional reading, especially as it doesn’t utilise in-depth descriptions and diagrams like other books on the list.
4. The Like Switch – Jack Schafer PhD with Marvin Karlins PhD
A fun and interesting read all about how to analyse the behaviour of the people around you, both in real life and online, through nonverbal and behavioural clues.
The pictures used throughout are helpful and veer away from being cartoonish, and the book itself feels like a fresh take on an already familiar subject.
However, this book might feel a little strange to read if you typically don’t struggle with social interaction and instead would rather hone your understanding and abilities.
With such intense detail on behaviours many of us exhibit instinctually, this book would be a good resource for someone neurodiverse seeking to internalise the unspoken rules of nonverbal communication.
So, at times it’s a bit obvious for most of its readership, for a select few it could be an absolute gold mine of information.
5. How to Analyse People: Analyse People Dead On – Recognise Personality Patterns and Learn How to Read People Instantly – Aiden Mccoy
This book markets itself as being the perfect handbook to help you understand peoples’ motivations before they can influence you with a charming first impression you’ll struggle to shake.
But take heed – this title is only pamphlet-sized, which has disappointed many buyers in the past who argued that this wasn’t made clear.
So, if you’re looking for a fleshed-out read of everything you’ll ever need to know, this might not be an appropriate resource.
Despite that, for a smaller book, it still packs a punch, and is perfect to keep handy in your bag before a big date or job interview.