Martin Messier

March 17, 2023

NLP Books: The Top 10 Classics You Should Devour

Recently, several subscribers have asked me about the best NLP books I recommend. Here is my shortlist and why you absolutely must read these books.

2022 Update: After 10 years of dailyNLP, I've created an updated list of the NLP books I recommend. This new list offers the top 10 NLP books for influence and top performance.

1. Frogs Into Princes
by Richard Bandler and John Grinder

Frogs Into Princes, by Richard Bandler and John Grinder

This book, in my opinion, is the grand-daddy and one of the best NLP books. If you haven't already read it or leafed through it, it's a transcript from a live seminar Richard Bandler and John Grinder gave in the early days of NLP.

This particular format, chosen by Steve Andreas, protects the juiciness of the original delivery by the two co-founders. More fundamentally, Frogs Into Princes reveals between the lines the curious and ruthless attitude proper to the practice of NLP. You MUST read this book.

2. Unlimited Power : The New Science Of Personal Achievement
by Anthony Robbins

Unlimited Power, by Anthony Robbins

This book was probably the first work to take NLP to the masses.

While it gives Anthony Robbins' spin of personal excellence to NLP, it exposes in very simple and entertaining language many of NLP's classic models and patterns, such as representational systems, well-formed outcomes, reframing, among others.

If you are just getting started in NLP and you enjoy motivational books, Tony will guide you enthusiastically in your first steps.

3. Turtles All the Way Down: Prerequisites to Personal Genius
by John Grinder and Judith DeLozier

Turtles All The Way Down, by John Grinder and Judith DeLozier

This book definitely does not circulate on the usual NLP box office hits. But it's one of the most provocative books available to the NLPer.

It offers countless descriptions and exercises to stimulate the reader to access the know-nothing state, absolutely essential to modeling using the NLP methodology. Again, it's one of the rare places where you can get a "whiff" of Grinder-style NLP.

I would definitely not skip on this one if I were you. I had to order it from the National Library of Canada, and could only consult it at the library itself. It was worth every minute spent and contributed significantly to the grounding I possess in the field. It's one of the best NLP books and you ought to read it.

4. Trance-Formations: Neuro-Linguistic Programming and the Structure of Hypnosis
by Richard Bandler and John Grinder

Tranceformations, by Richard Bandler and John Grinder

Another book edited by Steve Andreas. This one exposes, in seminar format, hypnotic patterns that the co-founders learned by modeling Milton Erickson.

Once again, the live seminar format offers a more organic and juicy reading experience than the habitual dryness of the textbook. This one is still considered by many practicioners of NLP as one of the best books on hynosis.

Be ready to pay top dollar for it as it's held as a collectible these days.

5. Reframing: Neuro-Linguistic Programming and the Transformation of Meaning
by Richard Bandler and John Grinder

Reframing, by Richard Bandler and John Grinder

"Reframing" is the seminar equivalent of The Structure of Magic (also recommended below). Also in seminar format, this book shows how to use the language patterns of the meta-model to challenge and reorganize a client's Model of the World.

Another classic among the seminal texts of the early days of NLP. You'll love it.

6. Using Your Brain--For a Change: Neuro-Linguistic Programming
by Richard Bandler

Using Your Brain For A Change, by Richard Bandler

By this point, Richard Bandler and John Grinder had already split up.

In this book, also edited by Steve Andreas in live seminar format, you'll get to read Richard Bandler's dabblings and experiments with his new neurolinguistic toy: submodalities.

I believe this book was the first to present the Swish Pattern, one of the best-known NLP patterns/techniques. It's one of the best NLP books to learn some of the seminal change patterns.

7. Beliefs: Pathways to Health and Wellbeing
by Robert Dilts, Tim Hallborn and Suzi Smith

Beliefs, by Robert Dilts and Tim Hallbom

Robert Dilts et all do an outstanding job in presenting beliefs, how they constellate our unconscious and the impact they have on our view of the world.

While beliefs generally do not show up until Master Practicioner levels of training, you'll really enjoy this book's simple language.

One important distinction to note: Robert Dilts often mixes NLP concepts and models with models that he experiments with and models. The latter aren't considered part of the NLP corpus and John Grinder has often criticized Robert Dilts for them.

8. Whispering In The Wind
by John Grinder and Carmen Bostic St Clair

Whispering In The Wind, by John Grinder and Carmen Bostic St Clair

This book, while incredibly complex, will give you a very, very solid grounding in the scientific underpinnings of NLP.

In this masterwork, Grinder and Bostic St Clair expose rigorously the influences that cybernetics, linguistics, psychology and other fields had in the founding of NLP.

While it's a hairy read and not easy to digest, you have to read it if you're committed to mastering NLP. It greatly assisted me in overcoming the therapy bias that usually comes with NLP. This is by far one of the best NLP books to learn the epistemology of the field.

9. The Structure of Magic: A Book About Language and Therapy (Structure of Magic)
by Richard Bandler and John Grinder

The Structure of Magic, by Richard Bandler and John Grinder

Both Volume I and Volume II of The Structure of Magic present systematically how Bandler and Grinder modeled Fritz Perls and Virginia Satir. They also reveal the way Bandler and Grinder found to code their newfound communication model.

This book gave birth to the Meta Model of language in therapy. For that reason alone, it deserves your attention. It's incredibly thorough and describes in detail how Bandler and Grinder constructed that model at the onset of the field.

While you may find it a tough read as well, you have to read this to get a sense of how a formal NLP model should be presented. I doubt that a model has been presented so thoroughly since the publication of this two-part series.

10. Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson, M.D
by Richard Bandler and John Grinder

Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton Erickson, by Richard Bandler and John Grinder

You have to read Volume I and Volume II of this two-tome essay for the same reasons that you have to read The Structure of Magic: because they reveal how to code patterns formally. Imagine what it would be like to stand in front of the world's greatest hypnotherapist and trying to figure out what the heck he's doing... "Patterns" will enchant you in some parts, challenge you in others, but definitely will impress you with the commitment and determination with which Bandler and Grinder pursued this peculiar modeling project.

Of course, different students of NLP will argue for a different Top 10 list. But this one will definitely set you on your way to understanding what NLP is all about, while at the same time getting you to use some of the practical tools that NLP offers, such as the Swish Pattern. One thing is for sure, keep Whispering In The Wind for dessert.

  • Thanks alot. I will definitely check some of these out.

    I can vouch for Robbins book. I did not know that it would be considered an NLP book, yet it is one of my most favorite productivity books.


    • Hey khaazRa,

      Good to hear from you. Unlimited Power definitely contains a lot of NLP models and patterns. When it was published in 1986, Tony still held the NLP flag.

  • It’s a helpfull list, I recommend it to all NLPrs,and I add NLP the new technology of Achievment by NLP comprehansive,The User’s manual for the brain by Micheal hall and Bob Bodenhamer, and Teach your self NLP by Steve Bavister,Amanda Vickers.

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