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I bought my first tarot deck at a magic shop in Glastonbury, because that seemed the sort of thing you should do in a city so steeped in magic. It wasn’t until a few years later than I decided I ought to actually learn how to read the cards. I had recenty graduated from college and felt a bit unmoored with no one telling me what to learn about. So, I found a free online course offered through my local library and set about learning the basics.
This course was fine, but there are far better resources out there today. It’s funny to me, in retrospect, that I didn’t seek out a book about tarot first. I think I wanted to feel like I was in a classroom setting, and the tarot class was just the vehicle for re-capturing that “back to school” feeling.
Eventually, I did buy my first book about tarot — Melissa Cynova’s Kitchen Table Tarot. The approachable title and fabulous cover pulled me in, and the book practically sold itself. I was in grad school, however, so I never finished reading it.
Never finished reading it until now, that is. Like many of my hobbies and interests, tarot comes and goes in waves for me. Sometimes I’ll go months without touching my cards, and other times I’m eagerly offering readings to everyone I know. Right now, the pendulum has swung closer to the latter, which means I felt drawn to pick up this book.
What I Liked
Cynova’s writing style is personal and down-to-earth. She makes the cards feel approachable and relatable, grounding the archetypes in modern examples. For instance, she refers to the knights as the “frat boys of the tarot.” This book hooked me in from page one and truly does feel like sitting down at the kitchen table to talk about tarot.
This is a fantastic overview for a tarot beginner. Cynova covers basics like how to get started, how to take care of your cards, and how to be an ethical reader. Then, she dives deep and explores the meanings of each card in the tarot. That little guidebook that comes with each deck? This book does that, too, and would make a great reference for a new reader trying to piece together what the cards mean for them.
Cynova also covers a bit about how to become a professional tarot reader if you want to, and offers some recommended reading at the end. This is a broad resource and reference for tarot. If you’re going to buy just one book on the subject, I don’t think you’d go astray to make it this one.
What I Didn’t Like
I’m hard pressed to say what I didn’t like, honestly. This is a great book on tarot.
I think, like any reference-style book, reading it straight through can be a bit overwhelming. All those explanations of card meanings aren’t going to stick after just one read, and I don’t think they’re meant to. I see this as a book you sit down with when you’re doing a reading, referencing when you need a little help.
In all, I highly recommend Kitchen Table Tarot for anyone who’s interested in learning to read tarot cards or just wants to know more about them. It makes a great refresher if you’re already familiar, as well.
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