There are a LOT of Tarot books available today, and for those of you who are not quite sure which to get, I've put together a little collection of those that I would recommend. The paragraphs aside are not meant to be a review of the book, they should just give a little idea why the book is listed.
You can order the books listed below at amazon.com by simply clicking on their images.
Book of Thoth
When you do have the Thoth Tarot, you ought to have this book in the first place! Today, there are a lot of books about this deck, and some of them really give you the creeps. By the way - Crowleys desciptions of the Majors are a bit hard to chew sometimes, but this paragraphs for the Minors are the best and most concise there are..
The Three Initiates: The Kybalion
This wonderful little book provides a good look at the Hermetic philosophy and the Seven Hermetic Principles. It doesn't deal with Tarot that much, but reveals a deep feeling for what the whole thing should be about..
Robert V. O'Neill: Tarot Symbolism
One of the very best modern books on the Tarot, covering its aspects clearly and thoroughly. The books also deals with the various [hi]stories about Tarot origin and should be required reading for anyone who wants to go a step further in his studies.
Robert Wang : A Textbook of
Definitely the best book when it comes to the Tarot and its connections to the Kabbalah, and literally a nice 'textbook' to keep on your knees while looking on your cards. Further, the book provides a clear and understandable look into the Western Hermetic Kabbalah and describes each card of both Majors and Minors using the Thoth Tarot, the Golden Dawn Tarot, the Waite deck and the Tarot of Marseilles.
Oswald Wirth: Tarot of the Magicians
Published in 1926, this book is still a very special goodie, with deep insights in all aspects of the Major Arcana. Although the book adresses Wirth's own deck - the 'Oswald-Wirth-Tarot', it is universal enough to cover any other deck in the tradition of the Hermetic Tarot.
Papus: Tarot of the Bohemians
First published in 1889, this book was the first systematic interpretation of the Tarot that didn't just clone Levi. Though containing some of the usual exaggerations of this time (not only a book of Hermes Trismegistus, but even of Adam i.e. the 'primitive Revelation of the ancient civilisations') it shows the soul of the occultist Tarot just as it used to be...
Stuart R. Kaplan: Encyclopedia of Tarot VOL.
The name is program - this book gives a good look at a great many decks and their history. The images alone - showing decks you'll hardly ever see elsewhere - makes this book a treasure.
Stuart R. Kaplan: Encyclopedia
of Tarot VOL. II
The second volume of a series that you should not miss.
Cynthia Giles: The Tarot : History, Mystery
A good introduction into the history of the Tarot, one of the favorite beginner books, opening ways for all directions.
A.E. Waite: The Original Rider Waite Tarot
Pack & Book Set
I hate to recommend it, since I like neither the deck or the book, but for a student it is standard reading. when there is no passing by when you want to learn the history of the Tarot, or better said: the past decades thereof.
Eliphas Levi: Transcendental
Magic: Its Doctrine and Ritual
As a matter of fact, Levi was the beginning of what one may call the 'triumph march of modern occultism'. He grabbed together whatever he could find to form his views of magic, established the Tarot as a source of magical symbolism and became the godfather of such specimen like Waite and Crowley.
The book aside includes his first two-volume work on the occult (1856) and was first translatetd into English in 1896 by A.E. Waite.
Eliphas Levi: The History of Magic
First published in 1860, this 'History of Magic' includes almost each and every beloved Tarot legend, starting from Hermes Trismegistus creating the Emerald Tablet up to the Tarot as a Jewish secret spread around by the gipsies. Mercifully, the historical value is of no importance, nevertheless you can have a splendid look on how 'it all began'...