My Favorite Magic Books: Denis Behr

By Alex Robertson - Thursday, May 13, 2021

We asked some of the best magicians we know what their favorite three magic books are. This week is the turn of Denis Behr, you may know him from his books, Handcrafted Magic volumes 1, 2 and 3, his best selling DVD Magic on Tap, or from being the man behind The Conjuring Archive, an incredible resource for magicians. Over to Denis:


With that many books to choose from, it is impossible to list the three favorites. But here are three titles that I love and that have influenced me.

The first one is Guy Hollingworth's Drawing Room Deceptions from 1999. I was already a fan of his early video "The London Collection" and couldn't wait for the book to come out. And it certainly did not disappoint. I love everything about it, from the often humorous and always English writing, the beautifully drawn illustrations, to the mostly quite difficult card material. As a matter of fact, I memorized a few of the longer and more British sentences in the book and adapted them in an English exam in school back then, to sound more classy! I guess I can admit this now, twenty years later. The book also contains some hidden handling finesses within descriptions of other things, like a riffle finesse for the diagonal insertion on page 134 and a very economic multiple shift on page 177.

Everybody loves The Books of Wonder (1996), that Tommy Wonder wrote with Stephen Minch, and for a good reason. They are a fantastic set of two books on general magic. Tommy's love for magic shines through on every page. The material is great and he does whatever it takes to bring about the most magical experience for the audience that is possible. And besides the tricks, some real highlights are the excellent and thought-provoking essays that are sprinkled throughout the books.

They are worth coming back to from time to time, as there are always persuasive examples when illustrating unconventional ideas and opinions. For example, take note of this quote from page 301 of the first volume: "If money and success are more important to you than good magic, you’re in the wrong business".

Books on theory are not that common for multiple reasons. Among those are that they are hard to write and not that many people have something worthwhile to say that goes beyond tricks. One of my favorite books in that regard is Darwin Ortiz's Designing Miracles (2006).

It discusses effect construction and is an important book that brings together all the ideas and principles that make an effect deceptive, incorporating the theories of Ascanio and Tamariz and many more. Darwin Ortiz has the skill of expressing all the ideas with great clarity. I wish everyone who publishes an effect would read this book first. Here's a quote from page 128:

"The problem with direct methods is that laypeople think in terms of direct methods. A direct method is what the audience is searching for. Therefore, it’s precisely the kind of method they’re most likely to uncover."

There are so many more great books to list, after all it was my love for magic books that got me to start with the Conjuring Archive many years ago. But I wanted to give only three from three different genres of magic. Get them, read them, and I'm sure you'll find your time is well spent.

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