13 Steps to Mentalism review: Is it worth the buy?

’13 Steps to Mentalism’ is by the renowned English author, Tony Corinda. Initially published as thirteen smaller and individual booklets in London, the publishing of these booklets as one book was in 1961.

Many people agree that the author should have received a special award for writing this classical text by referring to it as ‘The Bible of Mentalism.’ Let us quickly delve into understanding the gist of this book and determine whether it is worth the purchase or not.

Name13 Steps to Mentalism
AuthorTony Corinda
PublisherD. Robbins and Co. (1964)
Hardcover424 pages
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What is ’13 Steps to Mentalism?’

As its title suggests, this book describes thirteen crucial mentalism tricks that many mentalists still struggle with to date. It offers various techniques used by mentalists that appear to have psychic capabilities or mental prowess.

Some of the techniques discussed include telekinesis, extra-sensory perception, telepathy, precognition, and the ability to communicate with unearthly beings, like spirits and the dead.

Although the book only has thirteen mentalism techniques, the worth of each trick is almost a thousand times more.

By comprehending and mastering these techniques, you can pull off any trick in the book, like x-rays and blindfolds, predictions, publicity stunts, card tricks, and mediumistic stunts.

Not only does the book discuss each step intensively, but it also provides clear directions on their execution.

Who is the author?

The fantastic authorship of ’13 Steps to Mentalism’ belongs to Tony Corinda, an English magician and mentalism enthusiast. Born in 1930, he became famous for selling magic tricks in the United Kingdom during the 1950s.

However, he mostly took the mentalism approach among his clients in the U.K.

After years of fame and success in the world of magic and illusion, he took over the Magic Shop in Oxford Street, London, which initially belonged to Dick Chavel.

Between 1956 and 1958, he wrote a series of thirteen individual booklets consisting of a different form of mentalism. However, the individual booklets were combined into one booklet in 1961 and published in 1964 by D. Robbins and Co.

From then on, the book became a classical text and regarded as the essential ‘mentalism’ reference book.

What are the ’13 Steps of Mentalism?’

As discussed above, the book describes 13 essential aspects of mentalism. Therefore, if you are looking to learn the ropes and understand the gist behind mentalism, it is vital to pay attention to these steps.

They include:

1. Swami Gimmick

The swami gimmick is one of the most used mentalism tricks among professional mentalists.  Swami gimmicks consist of some of the most powerful techniques that are nearly invisible to the eye of the spectator.

In the book, this gimmick has three sub-sections, including tricks, types, and the methods of execution of each.

The author dives into the various swamps that exist in the world of mentalism, how to use them effectively while minimizing detection, and the possible effects of using this gimmick.

Despite the evolution of these tricks with time, the concept behind them is similar, meaning you can easily understand the idea behind them by following the author’s explanation.

2. The Pencil, Sound, Lip, Touch and Reading Muscles

Tony intensively discusses how one can use these five aspects to get information and make predictions. He describes the best time to use each of them, the best and worst conditions to use, and the most recommended positions you should leverage.

For instance, pencil reading involves monitoring the movement of a pencil to know the written information without reading it. 

Muscle reading is the monitoring of the small changes in muscle tension of the spectator. All these tactics require practice and great attention and focus, to avoid failure or mistakes.

3. Mnemonics and mental systems

Mentalism works around the flaws and strengths of the brain. In this technique, Corinda discusses the origin of mental systems and how the Ancient Greeks used them.

He gives you the basics of the mental systems and how to handle brilliant chess effects and magic squares, among many others. With the help and understanding of this technique, you will be able to perform amazing magical feats, like using a memorized deck.

The author also teaches several astounding mathematical feats.

4. Predictions

A good mentalist can make snap and accurate predictions at a moment’s notice. Corinda discusses various prediction techniques, like The Drawing Room, indexes, switches, envelopes, and forces.

He also gives suggestions to spice up general predictions and how to mix them more into various aspects of your act.

5. Blindfold and X-ray eyes

In this technique, the author unfolds the mystery behind blindfolds, the various types of blindfolds, and how to get information while blindfolded. He also provides different tricks and the ideas behind them so that you can execute them efficiently.

6. Billets

Popularly referred to as an outdated tactic, many modern mentalists do not like using this trick. However, it is a favorite among many ancient mentalists. Billets are small folds of paper that contain information written by the spectator.

Corinda discusses how to get access to such information without the knowledge of your audience. He explains the wrong perspective people have about it and why it is one of the most vital tricks in mentalism.

The author also includes various effects that can be performed using billets.

7. Book tests

If you are looking forward to performing mentalism with books, Corinda provides insight on how to do it effectively.

He describes ten different techniques and effects performed with books.  You learn how to use dice, cards, magazines, and slates. This chapter also includes an interview with the famous Maurice Fogel, where they deeply talk about the world of mentalism.

8. Two-Person Telepathy

Although Corinda worked by himself, he dedicated two chapters of his book to telepathy, titling them ‘Major systems,’ and ‘Minor Systems.’ He discusses the best modes of application of telepathy methods and tactics applicable to two people.

These sections have a total of eight described routines, including the use of verbal techniques and electronic devices. As a result, you will learn about colors, numbers, and alphabets, among many others, to help you tackle these techniques.

9. Mediumistic stunts

Despite being outdated, Corinda describes the importance of setting the right mood and using the best development of your speech.

The section on ‘spirit writing’ is quite eye-opening and intriguing for any newbie mentalist.

10. Card Tricks

This section offers an intense look at how to go about card tricks, perfect for any beginners in magic. It contains various mentalism effects to use with cards and the importance of using the right approach and development of speech.

11. Mediumistic stunts

This part of the book contains two different sections; known and unknown questions. Ideal for advanced mentalists, Corinda discusses the various techniques of obtaining information to unknown questions.

A good mentalist requires great confidence to pull off these techniques. He shares how to smoothly execute techniques like inferring information, gimmicks, and having advance information to assist you in doing it best.

This section serves as a great introduction to cold reading.

12. Publicity Stunts

Much of this section revolves around publicity.

Corinda suggests that most of the audience does not pay much attention and focus and provides ways to take advantage of such an audience. It is an excellent section to read if you want to increase your reputation and exposure as a mentalist.

He also approves of the ‘Sit in a Box Over the Thames’ trick in this section.

13. Patter and presentation

If you have mastered all the techniques of mentalism, but still fail in the area of ‘patter’ and presentation, you risk compromising your credibility as a mentalist.

This section of the book covers the importance of good performance and delivery, misdirection, appearance, mode of dressing, misleading speech, and other gimmicks crucial in stage performance.

Pros of the book

  • Excellent and easy-to-understand explanations and descriptions
  • A reliable source of information as the author has had significant success in the world of magic and mentalism. Tony Corinda is one of the best mentalists of his time.
  • Ideal for both new and advanced mentalists
  • The insight, ideas, and techniques in the book will last forever since the basic working principles in mentalism never change


  • This book is ideal for mentalists, although mediums and telepaths may also get some information from the book, although to a limited extent
  • It is unfit for highly advanced mentalists


This book is an excellent and worthy addition to your library if you are looking to delve into the world of mentalism. Although it was published decades ago, the book still consists of helpful and valuable information applicable throughout the ages.

From a respected mentalist in the society during his time, Tony Corinda had definitely mastered his craft, owing to the level of fame he gained over the years.

In the book, he also went ahead and got various views of the aspects of mentalism from other authoritative people in the industry during his time. As a result, the ’13 Steps to Mentalism’ is a must-have for any beginning mentalist.