Read other's minds and hear their thoughts
Telepathy is the ability to read other people's minds and hear their thoughts. If Telepaths focus hard enough, they can "enter" another person's mind and penetrate their memories.
The ability to hear other people's thoughts makes it difficult for Sookie to talk to people as she hears all their secrets and desires. This can cause problems as most people think things they do not say because they think they are too spiteful or cruel to say. However, there are good points to being able to hear people's thoughts as pointed out by Adele Stackhouse. She suggested that her husband Earl could also hear thoughts and, by using his ability, he stopped his brother Francis from killing himself.
If someone cannot control their ability properly, they will find it difficult to live in normal human society.
Telepathy is an ability exclusive to the Faerie race, Human/Fairy Hybrids are also capable of telepathy.
Telepaths can hear all the thoughts of humans. They cannot, however, hear the thoughts of vampires. They find it difficult to hear the thoughts of Shapeshifters and other non-human creatures. However, it seems they can read werewolves. They hear thoughts in the person's own voice; for example, when Rene had his mind read by Sookie, she noticed that he did not think with a Cajun accent but rather with his real southern accent. ("You'll Be the Death of Me")
Sookie tried to release Tara from Maryann's hold but was unable to read her. With Bill's ability to glamour Tara into opening her mind, they were able to use their powers together and lift Maryann's spell.
In Sookie's house Bill requests Sookie to try and read Alcide's employee's mind, Doug, who was glamoured after Russell was freed. Alcide says he doesn't want Doug mixed up in vampire business, saying fangers bring nothing but trouble and death. Eric retorts that they don't need his permission. Bill, Eric, Alcide and Sookie show up to meet Doug. Sookie asks if she could read his mind and he lets her. While he says he doesn't remember much, Sookie sees his thoughts and a woman approaches him but Sookie can't make out who it is. She then sees another of Doug's thoughts of this woman digging Russell out with her hands. A terribly weak and blood deprived Russell is seen being held and Sookie notices the woman wearing the same pendant the Authority wears.
In contrast to the television series, the book series states specifically that the gift of telepathy is rare to come across in the supernatural community.
It is stated a few times that Sookie's power is not a gift common amongst the Fae.
It was revealed in the eleventh book Dead Reckoning that Sookie's powers come from Demons, specifically the demon Desmond Cataliades. He gave Sookies grandmother Adele a thimble of his blood in her wine so that any of her descendants who had the "essential spark" would be blessed with the power of telepathy (the "essential spark" being an openness to the other world, the world of the supernatural, and those born with it are destined for great things).