With so many amazing books out there about tarot, it’s sort of shocking that how few there are on the art of reading for others! So I was excited to dig into Jenna Matlin’s Will You Give Me a Reading, and spoiler alert: I wasn’t disappointed! Jenna is a professional intuitive and tarot reader, and this is her third book on the market. Will You Give Me a Reading advertises itself as a guide for anyone–seasoned veterans and total newcomers alike–to start reading not just for themselves, but for others. What a breath of fresh air when so many tarot books for beginners focus solely on how to memorize the meanings behind each card. And don’t get me wrong, that kind of book is very needed (and I certainly used my fair share of them, and still do sometimes)! But it’s so lovely to find a tarot pro who encourages newcomers to share their reading skills right away, no matter how green and unpracticed they may be.
I have, erm, quite a few tarot books on my bookshelves, and they run the gamut from essential getting-started guides like Melissa Cynova’s Kitchen Table Tarot to meaty, scholarly tomes on the subject like Benebell Wen’s Holistic Tarot. (Don’t ask me how many decks I have. Just assume the answer is “too many, and counting.”) But it’s rare to find a book that can comfortably serve brand new readers, long-time practitioners, and everyone in between. It’s a testament not only to Matlin’s mastery of the cards themselves, but her writing style as well. If I was new to tarot, this wouldn’t be an intimidating text to pick up. And yet as someone who’s been reading the cards for a few years now, I still found a ton of new insight and ideas to incorporate into my practice. That is not an easy line to walk, and Matlin does so rather brilliantly.
As someone who always looks for hands-on activities and practical applications for the cards, I love to see how many examples and suggested activities Matlin included. This is not a book to read passively; it’s a book that has you grabbing your deck and trying things out. For newer tarot readers, this provides tons of chances to practice, on their own or with a querent. And for more seasoned readers, this gives opportunities to enhance their understanding of the cards and develop their voice and style as a reader. As I keep saying, there’s truly something for everyone in this book.
Thinking in terms of accessibility, this would be a great addition to the bookshelf of any disabled or neurodivergent (ND) tarot reader who wants to start reading for others, or who already is reading for others and wants to deepen their skills. It can be tough to make the jump from pulling cards for yourself to reading for anyone else with confidence (or at least with well-faked confidence). Matlin’s writing is deeply empowering. She assures the reader that they have meaningful insight to share no matter what stage of learning they’re in, and encourages them to start honing their reading chops in the wild right away. (Matlin mentions several times in the book that she struggled with debilitating migraines, so she is no stranger to chronic pain herself.)
The only con I can think of has less to do with Matlin’s book itself and more to do with the question of confidence. Confidence is hard to cultivate for most people, but when you’re disabled, chronically ill, or neurodivergent, there’s extra challenges to maintaining your self-esteem. There’s the internal battles–the whispering of anxiety, the intrusive thoughts, the energy that flags too easily, the flareups that can sometimes be pushed through but often shouldn’t be. And then there’s the external battles, the ableism that constantly tells us that we’re less productive, less useful, less reliable, and more of a burden. It can be challenging to find your confidence in anything, much less in something as squishy and intuition-based as reading tarot cards.
If this is sounding familiar, I still think Will You Give Me a Reading can provide a stepping stone on your journey to developing confidence as a reader. But I would add the caveat that it’s okay to start small. Begin by doing one-card readings for someone, for instance. Early in my development, I got in the habit of pulling a daily card for myself, but for two of my closest friends, as well. It was relatively quick, so it didn’t take a ton of energy. But it boosted my self-assurance immensely when I pulled a card that resonated with my friends. (And if you’re in the early stages of learning the cards’ meanings, this gives you more space to linger over the nuance of an individual card.) Another option to make readings feel less intimidating is to do larger readings with more cards at once, but be very selective about who you read for first. Choose a trusted friend or a beloved family member–and in general, when starting out, perhaps avoid reading for folks who are ALSO tarot readers. The last thing you want is to have your querent correcting you on what the cards mean or challenging your intuition while you’re just starting to find your footing. Or identify someone who’s also in the very early stages of their tarot development and trade readings with them!
It’s hard to break that seal and move from solo readings to pulling cards for others. But as ever, there are ways to make that transition a touch more accessible and achievable. Be gentle and patient with yourself. As Matlin says herself, “Keep a loose grip. Hold on to a thing, but not too tightly. Honor a belief, but change it if it no longer fits. Command respect, but also learn to laugh at your mistakes. Be responsible for your actions, but love yourself when those actions are less than ideal.” Giving someone a reading doesn’t have to mean going from quick one-card readings for yourself to huge, lengthy spreads for total strangers. Start small, and make sure to notice your successes as readily as you notice your mistakes. It can be all to easy to hyperfocus on the speed bumps and overlook the stretches of smooth road.
Thank you to Llewellyn for giving me this copy of Will You Give Me a Reading to review! Jenna Matlin is an awesome human–check out this conversation I had with her over on her youtube channel. And if you’ve read her book or mine, please take a moment to leave ratings and reviews on amazon or goodreads!