With just a glance, tilt of the head or shift of the eyes, we express countless thoughts and emotions.
Body language provides an insightful window into understanding people. By interpreting nonverbal signals, you can read hidden feelings, detect lies, avoid manipulation and strengthen connections.
Mastering the art of reading body cues takes knowledge, practice and understanding context.
Luckily, there are some fantastic books available to help you become an expert at decoding human behavior.
We’ve researched extensively and compiled this list of the absolute best reads on reading people through body language.
With over 200 hours of review, we curated 7 top-rated titles packed with tips, examples and photos. These fascinating books will give you a powerful edge in daily life, business and relationships.
Each provides unique insights from experts like ex-FBI agents, behavioral analysts, psychologists and more.
You’ll learn how to speed-read people, identify dishonesty, build instant rapport, interpret cues across genders and personalities, and much more!
We made sure to include books accessible for beginners and pros alike.
To simplify your search, we highlighted key features, pros and cons of each book.
List of Best Books on Reading People
Let’s explore some of the best options if you want to master reading people like a pro:
- Key Features: An ex-FBI agent shares how to speed-read people and detect lies or hidden emotions. Covers body language, facial expressions and more.
- Pros: Extremely practical with easy to absorb examples. Author provides credibility from years of applied experience.
- Cons: Some may want even more advanced tips/nuance beyond the basics covered.
As an ex-FBI counterintelligence officer, Joe Navarro has ample experience interpreting body language displays.
In this highly readable guide, he breaks down nonverbal cues into digestible sections.
The book is organized by different parts of the body to explain indicators of emotions, discomfort, deception and more.
With a bevy of clear examples and photos, Navarro highlights what to look for across contexts from interpersonal interactions to public speaking.
He also busts myths around some commonly misinterpreted cues.
If you want to quickly decode other people and understand situation dynamics, this book equips you with insider skills. It makes an excellent beginner-friendly primer on body language.
- Key Features: An international bestseller that covers body language from head to toe. Easy to absorb and full of photos/diagrams.
- Pros: Extremely thorough documentation of body language with clear supporting diagrams/examples. Easy to reference.
- Cons: Some content is better absorbed in small doses rather than reading cover to cover.
Allan and Barbara Pease provide one of the most comprehensive references for understanding body language and nonverbal displays.
This mega bestseller profiles hundreds of gestures, expressions, stances and tells you exactly what they imply.
The authors include helpful diagrams and photos throughout so you see body language in action. You’ll gain insights for reading posture, hand motions, leg movements, touches, facial tells and more.
It also highlights cultural and gender differences.
If you want an encyclopedic visual guide, this detailed book is arguably the top choice.
- Key Features: Written by former CIA officers with practical tips for spotting lies. Includes clear examples and strategies.
- Pros: Highly practical advice from those practiced in deception detection. Engaging and straight-to-the-point.
- Cons:Less focus on body language fundamentals.
Co-authored by former CIA officers, this fascinating book reveals techniques intelligence officers use to detect deception.
It spotlights verbal and nonverbal cues that indicate when someone is lying.
The authors explain effective methods for eliciting information and strategic questioning.
While not a comprehensive body language book, it provides invaluable insights for reading people’s words and actions. You gain practical skills to enhance your judgement and identify deceit in your life.
If you want to sharpen your lie detection skills, this is a must-read.
- Key Features: Highly actionable advice for becoming more likable and influencing people.
- Pros: Practical and engaging advice for improving social/networking skills.
- Cons: Less comprehensive body language examples than some books.
FBI behavioral analyst Jack Schafer combines captivating stories, psychology and tips to teach you how to read personalities.
The book centers on understanding how to instantly build rapport and navigate social interactions.
Schafer shares how to adjust your own nonverbals like smiles, tone and touches to draw people in. While not a deep body language manual, it does include easy communication and relationship strategies.
If you want to win friends and master likeability, this book delivers charisma insights.
- Key Features: Breaks down body language and communication style differences between genders and personalities.
In this book, Dr. David Lieberman outlines techniques for reading different personality types from “supported” to “curmudgeon.”
He discusses the underlying neuroscience and evolutionary psychology to explain communication styles.
With helpful quizzes and exercises, Lieberman provides tips tailored to gender and common personality differences.
The book includes strategies for understanding body language across various interactions. While some gender generalizations feel dated, it still offers handy insights.
- Key Features: Handy reference guide organized alphabetically by body language concepts. Concise entries with photos.
- Pros: Unique format allows you to look up body language terms easily. Very concise and skimmable.
- Cons: Not as comprehensive as full narrative guides.
Joe Navarro, author of our #1 book, also created this unique reference guide.
Organized like a dictionary, the book provides alphabetized entries to quickly look up body language terminology. From “anchoring” to “preening” and beyond, the concise descriptions explain observable behaviors and their implications.
While it’s not designed for cover-to-cover reading, it makes a helpful resource.
The photos and clear organization, let you reference nonverbal concepts efficiently as needed.
Keep it handy for demystifying body language on the fly!
- Key Features: Classic reference book that is well-organized and descriptive. Covers many scenarios.
- Pros: Established reference book with very detailed analyses of body language in everyday situations.
- Cons: Some information hasn’t aged well over 50+ years since publishing.
Julius Fast authored one of the first modern body language books back in 1970.
His classic serves as a detailed reference for understanding nonverbal behavior and communication. While some examples feel dated, the general behavioral analyses remain accurate.
Fast systematically documents body language across conversations, workplaces, courtships, speeches and more.
If you want a thorough foundation to build on, this book nicely complements more modern titles. It provides extensive descriptions and frameworks for reading gestures in context.
There you have our top picks for the best books on mastering body language, reading people and deciphering nonverbal clues. Each provides unique value, whether you desire foundations, advanced tactics, specialized focus or handy references.
The more you understand evidence-based body language principles, the better you’ll navigate social and professional environments.
We hope this roundup gives you a headstart on learning this invaluable skillset.
Let us know if you have any other questions as you continue your journey reading people!
Please check back frequently, as we share the latest tips and reviews to help you communicate effectively and relate better with others.
You can visit inc.com to read an article An FBI Agent Shares 9 Secrets to Reading People.
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