In Tarot for Real Life, the author explains that anyone can read Tarot cards. He asks readers to set aside the stereotypical image of the “Madame Fortuna” and that all sorts of regular everyday people use Tarot. Whether the reader is a novice or has been using Tarot for years, this book has something for everyone. For those more advanced readers, they might skip over some of the more Tarot 101 introduction sections.

For those who have had an interest and want to get started, this book is a great guide for that journey. The author explains what Tarot is, some history and basics and then jumps right in to start doing some readings. The author explains the best way to learn is by ‘doing’. Chanek covers choosing your deck (if you weren’t gifted a deck) and what to look for. Perhaps the reader is attracted to a certain aesthetic or maybe a deck just calls to them. With literally hundreds of decks to choose from, it is the readers choice with which type of cards they want to work with. The author also gives a short description of the three most famous versions, the Tarot de Marseille, the Rider-Waite-Smith, and the Thoth. He also goes into explaining how to care for the deck, keeping a tarot journal, and practicing daily (a daily draw is a great exercise).

Personally I have a ridiculous amount of Tarot decks myself. I work with various decks depending on how I feel or what I feel most drawn to. Plus some of them have such breathtaking artwork, I can’t pass them up. Even though the earlier chapters were more beginning level information, I still enjoyed reading thru them as a refresher.

Typically a new Tarot reader may feel nervous or feels they can’t do a reading unless they have the cards guidebook to read from. One of the things I liked that the author recommends is using both the traditional meanings of the cards (found in the guidebook) but also using your intuition as well. When I began reading Tarot a couple of decades ago, I naturally used more intuition that what was in the book. There were several times in my early readings where I would tell the person, I don’t agree with the meaning in the guidebook and here is what I feel the card truly is telling you. Trusting intuition is probably the hardest lesson the new readers need to accept. Once they do, the Tarot sessions are more fun and relaxed and typically provide better information.

The book covers every card you can imagine in the Tarot with details but is written in an easy to understand style. There are plenty of Tarot spreads to utilize as well for whatever subject is being focused on. Chanek writes a great book with a lot of useful and practical information in regards to Tarot. Whether the reader has just been curious about trying to start reading Tarot or has been reading for years, there is so much packed in this book it needs to be on the shelf.

~review by Amber Barnes

Author: Jack Chanek
Llewellyn Publications, 2022
pp. 336, $19.99