Body Language Books (Nonverbal Cues & Gestures)

  • By: Phil Taylor
  • Time to read: 12 min.
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Books on non-verbal communication are an excellent way to improve your interpersonal skills. This guide includes a variety of books in different formats (books, audiobooks, etc.) as well as information on each book.

Here, we’ll discuss some of our favorite non-verbal communication books to help you get started.

The best book on body language is Desmond Morris, Manwatching. There are so many body language books out there that it can be hard to choose the best one body language book. That’s why we should return to the source and start our journey with Manwatching, building on our knowledge from the ground up.

Although this book won’t teach you directly how to read people’s body language it will give you an understanding of human behavior and what types of information we are giving off a very important book when studying body language.

Why bother with Body Language?

Body language is a form of nonverbal communication in which physical behaviors, such as gestures, posture, and facial expressions, are used to convey messages. These messages can be positive (e.g., I’m happy to see you) or negative (e.g., I’m angry with you).

Body language can help us to understand what others are thinking or feeling, even when they are not saying anything. For instance, if someone has their arms crossed and their body turned away from you, they are probably not interested in what you are saying.

There are many books on body language, but some of the best include Telling Lies, Unmasking The Face Ekman and Friesen.

My list of 11 best books on body language

1, Manwatching A field Guide to Human Behaviour by Desmond Morris

You will be amazed by the wide range of topics which are covered in this book. It’s not only about body language, but also tells and all the little things in life that you never knew existed, like what is your dominant thumb, bet you don’t know, you will when you read this book. The book may be outdated but it is still very relevant for the body language field, as human evolution doesn’t move that quickly.

His writing is capable of breaking down concepts into small digestible chapters and the way he delivers his message is easy to read. I liked how this book was well illustrated and made for an interesting read. If you want to learn more about Desmon Morris check out this short YouTube clip to understand why we recommend it.

2, What Every Body Is Saying by Joe Navarro

If there was ever anyone who put body language on the map, it would have to be Joe Navarro. What Every Body Is Saying is a must-read for anyone who wants to study body language.

The book is broken into nine chapters, starting with Chapter One, Mastering the Secrets of Nonverbal Communication. Topics include how to become a competent observer, understanding what a baseline is, and watching for multiple tells.

Joe then covers different parts of the body and how we can read body language from the ground up. If you’re going to read a book on Body Language, this would have to be on my list as one of the first to study. Here is a Ted Talk Joe Navarro did a few years ago YouTube.

3, The Ellipsis Manual by Chase Hughes

The Ellipsis Manual covers body language, as well as going deep into all aspects of human behavior, covering topics such as human needs and profiling, NLP, hypnosis, gaslighting, CIA methods, and job interview tips.

This is a powerful and dangerous book, I say dangerous because the tools and techniques in The Ellipsis Manual could be used for good or evil.

I wish I had this book twenty years ago when starting out in the world of hypnosis, deception, and body language. Highly recommended if you have an analytical mindset. Check out this link to hear Chase Huges talk about his book the Ellipsis Manual.

4, I Can Read You Like A Book by Gregory Hartley and Maryann Karinch

Learn anything you can from Greg Hartley- after watching Greg on The Behavior Panel over the past year, I wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of this man. I’m intrigued and intimidated all at the same time when I watch Mr Hartley. I Can Read You Like a Book is Greg’s take on how to read body language. Part one covers the steps to reading body language, cultural norms, and how to understand them.

Part two goes into the R.E.A.D technique (Review, Evaluate, Analyze, Decide) This is the main bulk of the book that covers how to decode the different parts of the body and understand what our non-verbals are communicating to the world.

There are multiple exercises at the end of each chapter you can use to practice honing your body language skills. Another great book to start your learning journey

5, Unmasking The Face by Paul Ekman and Wallace V. Frisen

Paul Ekman is a renowned scientist who is world-renowned for his research into facial expressions. He has found that many basic facial expressions are universal among different cultures and that the face often reveals what we feel inside.

I read this book, and I must say that I found it dry and difficult to read. It’s written like a text, not a story. However, I have found the book invaluable as a reference point when noticing an expression on a person’s face.

It’s worth picking up if you’re serious about learning non-verbal facial express

6, Truth and Lies What People Are Really Thinking by Mark Bowden and Tracy Thomson

This was an interesting read, and it taught me a lot about how to interpret others in person. I found the chapters on body language lies particularly interesting.

The book is split into four parts, part one: genuine deceptions, part two: dating, part three: friends and family, and part four: working life.

Although not a beginner’s book on body language, this is a unique take on understanding the psychology of people. The book should be included in the best body language books because it provides a different approach to understanding the subject.

7, Six Minute X-Ray Rapid Behavior Profiling by Chase Hughes

If you’re really want to study body language and start to become better at behavior profiling this book is a must.

The Six-Minute X-Ray is broken down into eighteen bitesize chapters that go deep into uncovering how we communicate and self-awareness there is a printout and training plans within the book and Chase gives you a detailed plan on how best to learn his technique in chapter 18.

I loved chapter seven on deception detection, if you want to learn fast learn from the best.

8, Never Split The Difference Chris Voss

Some will disagree with me on this one should Never Split The Difference be in the best body language books. Well, I think so from all the books on the list this is the book that I have found most useful in the real world.

Chris Voss’s techniques are real-world, hard-hitting, and actionable. What makes this an out-and-out body language book is the 7-38-55 percent rule where Chris explains the most powerful assessment tools are not words but body language and tone of voice.

The book is made up of ten chapters going deep into negotiating and body language. You would do very well to pick up a copy of Never Split The Difference. Brilliant read.

9, Louder Than Word Joe Navrro.

The follow up to What Every Body is Saying, this book takes the powerful techniques from that book and adapts them to different contexts.

The best way to balance between pushing and being pushed is by understanding anxiety and discomfort in those you are speaking with. One of my favorite parts of the book is when Joe describes that our feet reveal where we’re really interested.

One other interesting piece is the positioning of the thumb outside the pocket with the palm inserted into the pocket. The book covers nine chapters in two parts. The best thing about learning from Joe Navarro is that its real-world experience that has taken decades to understand and even more time to explain.

10, Sizing People Up Robin Dreeke

Identifying the subtle behavioral differences between the trustworthy and the deceitful it can greatly help you in your personal and professional relationships.

In the book, you will find lots of personal anecdotes and tips. It’s an interesting read and worth your time if you are studying body language from a different perspective.

A tip I picked up from the book was how to improve the chances of making the right decision when talking to people or making a decision when someone is trying to persuade you. You have to look beyond what they’re saying, paying attention to their body language, and considering the context. This could make it easier to figure out that someone is lying, among other things.

Is it a book I would recommend right off the bat, the answer would have to be a no, however, it does have merit and you can learn a thing or two from Robin Dreeke – Take a listen to some of the podcasts he featured on before purchasing Sizing People Up. Check Robin Dreeks lecture here.

11, Telling Lies by Paul Ekman

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Paul Ekman is one of the world’s most renowned experts on facial expression. His research is precise and well-researched. He has a section called “Clues to Deceit” in his book which speaks very specifically about facial expressions & how they can be used to identify when people are lying. However, this book is purely academic read there for dry and to the point. But if you are looking to get into the world of micro exceptions this could be perfect for you.

Additional Body Language Books.

  1. Emotions Revealed by Paul Ekman.
  2. Body Language by Julius Fast. 
  3. Without Conscience by Robert D. Hare.
  4. Snakes in Suits by Paul Babiak and Robert D. Hare.
  5. The Most Dangerous Business Book by Maryann Karinch and Gregory Hartley. 
  6. Body Talk by Desmond Morris.
  7. Dangerous Personalities by Joe Navarro.
  8. Understanding Body Language by Scott Rouse.

How To Read A Book On Body Language

“Retain and practice what you have learnt the easy way”.

I don’t want to teach you how to cook eggs, so feel free to skip over this bit. However, for those who are interested, there is a way of retaining information on the go so you can learn and practice at a faster pace. There are countless studies that show the best way of learning anything is to get out there and fail. I’m a strong advocate for that. The best thing about learning body language is that you don’t have to let people know you’re practicing (I would suggest you don’t).

How I retain information from a book

It can be hard to read non-fiction. I’ve read hundreds of books and hardly remember anything I’ve read. I have to read around the subject for years before anything sinks in. Well, there is a way to circumnavigate this problem and always have the information you require to hand in any time of the day or night.

First thing first the way I start a body language book is by reading the description on the back then I open the book take a look at the table of content see what jumps out at me take a mental note and jump into the chapters or chapters that interest me to get a taste of the author style of writing and topics giving me something to look forward to as I read the book.

From what I have learned from reading many non-fiction books over the years, most will cover the same ideas. Body language is pretty much the same with different names or spins on subject topics.

Once I’ve done my first pass of the book, I’ll decide how I want to take notes.

Taking Notes vs Highlighting

When I read a book, I sometimes take notes on the go using a note-taking app like Evernote or Notion. Currently, my preferred method of note-taking is with Notion, which I have integrated with my Second Brain and How to Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens. Both topics are too in-depth for this blog, but you should check them out on YouTube for more information.

My second method is highlighting text within a physical book and then once read, writing my notes on Notion to cement my knowledge even further. This does one of two things, the first is active recall and the second is reflection. I never copy word for word what I highlight, as I want to burn the new knowledge into my memory. If this remembering what you have read interests you, then check out Make It Stick by Peter C. Brown.

I write my notes chapter by chapter using topic headings from the book as a guide and also noting any quotes that capture my attention.

Practice What You’ve Learnt.

For me, if I’ve spent my money and taken the time to read a book on body language, I want to get the most out of it practically. The best way I’ve found is to take it into the real world. With the power of my second brain, I can quickly reference anything on my phone. To learn body language more effectively, I will often go into a cafe or bar and observe the conversations happening in the real world while sipping a cup of coffee or a cold beer. It’s amazing what you can see when you start to use active recall.

To start, just observe and see what catches your eye. Once you see a conversation or a piece of body language, try to interpret it for yourself and then look it up on your phone or in the book. Start to build a bank of knowledge in the real world, real-time. There is something more to learning when all the senses are active in a different environment other than your home.

There are many books and videos on YouTube that will teach you how to retain what you’ve read. These are some of the best methods I have found over the years. Now let’s get into why you came here in the first place, the best body language books.

Questions And Answers

What Are The Benefits Of Learning Body Language?

Reading people’s nonverbal communication is an essential part of day-to-day activities. It could be the difference between life and death. Studying body language can open up a whole load of conversations. It’s like getting a secret superpower and you’ll find that it takes even the most uncomfortable conversations to a new level.

When I speak to people, I don’t actively watch their body language unless I’m practicing something covertly. I tend to pick up on people’s non-verbal communication naturally over time.

WARNING! If you think you can learn body language by reading one book, then you are sadly mistaken. Like anything in life, these things take time and effort to truly become a master – and every time you engage in any human analysis, it’s like painting a new canvas time and time again. There are no quick tricks to learning human behavior.

Learning Body Language Benefits

  • Better communicator.
  • Build rapport at a rapid pace.
  • Become more confident person.
  • Communicate with authority.
  • Understand survival instincts that drive human behavior.
  • Create better personal and professional relationships.
  • Deception detection.
  • Physical protection.
  • Psychology protection.

Final Thoughts

I firmly believe we have to go back to basics and start learning from the ground up to get a better understanding of how the topic has evolved into the current day then we can start to build and grow. We stand on the shoulders of giants.

Body language and nonverbal communication will become very popular in the next few decades. With a growing population and access to knowledge, I predict that body language will become even more popular, making it an essential skill for life. There are many more books I have listed above I’ve yet to read so didn’t feel I could offer a true review. Having said that they are recommended by Scott Rouse If you have enjoyed reading this article on the best body language books then check similar ones here.