My Favorite Magic Books: Karl Hein

By Alex Robertson - Thursday, April 29, 2021

We asked some of the best magicians in the world to share with us their favorite magic books. This week is the turn of Karl Hein. You may know him from his extremely workable magic products: Heiny 500, Cube FX, his download bundle and just recently, Karl Hein: Connected. Over to Karl:


Many books have helped shape me into the magician I am today, so it is challenging to decide on just three favorites. It is also difficult to explain why the emotional connections to those specific books exist. One might assume the quality of the writing and material would be the most relevant factors. I think it has more to do with the place and time the books found themselves in my hands and how that particular author’s vision resonated with my own preferences and style. Your experience reading these same books will assuredly be different, but hopefully, you may find some value from seeing my perspective.

Before I reveal my three favorite books at the time of writing this post, I think it’s important to mention a few favorites from my past. Most magicians go through an early phase of magic in which they have only a few resources that they pour over again and again. Inevitably, we develop emotional ties to these books, videos, TV shows, or magic kits that have lasting effects.

My first magic book was The Mickey Mouse Magic Book. As an eight-year-old, I successfully performed every trick in the book as the setlist of my first show for family and friends. I know a few other well-known magicians with the same experience, for whom this book holds a special place in their hearts. It’s probably not one you particularly care about unless you know a young child interested in magic and would prefer to get them started through a book rather than a trick kit.

My first magic book for serious students of the art was Bobo’s New Modern Coin Magic, which I ordered in the mail from a Magic Master’s catalog. My memory is a little hazy on how they were all obtained and in what order, but I clearly remember reading Bobo’s, The Expert at the Card Table, and Expert Card Technique from cover to cover and attempting every trick that caught my interest. Many classics could be recommended, but these are the ones that shaped me as an aspiring conjurer.

For years I was obsessed with practicing and learning magic from books, old magic periodicals obtained from the local magic club (IBM Ring 117), and tricks bought at my local magic shop (Mr. A's). I went all-in when I attended my first magic convention, met other teenage performers, and saw legends of magic perform and teach in person. I was a magic sponge. The books and lecture notes authored by performers I had actually met in person, whose magical style and personality oozed from the pages, got soaked up the most.

So, here are three of many books I could mention that come to mind first. These choices were influenced by watching the creators perform their routines live, genuinely enjoying the reading process, and actually adding elements to my professional repertoire. I just went to take these three books off the shelf, and they all just happened to be next to each other - a magical experience just for me!

Richard Kaufman - Tom Mullica Starring in Show Time at the Tom-Foolery I am so happy that I got to see Tom Mullica perform and lecture on so many occasions but quite sad I was too young to see him perform in his heyday at the Tom-Foolery Magic Bar. However, I had experienced his infectiously fun personality live. When reading this book, my imagination had enough information to seat me at his bar and experience the show, surrounded by hysterically laughing patrons. So many of the routines are particular to Tom, but I clearly remember performing Cheek To Cheek and Karrell’s Kaput Kard/Mullica’s Complete Restoration Finale in early shows. This book taught me the importance of historical influences in one’s career, how to put together a show, and how to combine maximum entertainment with maximum magical impact. There was no way I, or anyone else, could duplicate the performances in this book, so I was forced to take the ideas and make them my own.

Steve Beam - *Semi-Automatic Card Tricks VOLUMES 1 & 2 I bought these two books from Steve after seeing him perform, lecture, and entertain/pitch at his dealer’s booth at a Florida State Magic Convention. Steve’s sense of humor and wit is brilliant, as well as his knowledge of all things related to tricks that only use cards. While there are many books in this series now, I have read the first two volumes many times because it’s a joy to see how Steve takes dull card tricks and somehow makes them entertaining, even when just writing about them. His sense of humor continually shines through and shows that there are so many ways to be funny. This is an excellent resource for relatively easy to do magician foolers and presentational ideas for card effects. I’d mention my favorite routines, but the fun comes in finding your own.

Chris Kenner and Homer Liwag - Totally Out Of Control Hands down my favorite magic book. If you’ve seen Chris or Homer perform any of these classic routines live, then you know how powerful they can be and why so many effects in this book are modern classics. I love everything about this book because it was written, illustrated, and designed by the authors, and you can tell they put all they had at the time into it. All of these elements, as well as the magical routines, exude respectful irreverence. I can’t think of another magic book that is more fun to read, more engaging, or more creative. It’s both classic and modern, and I think it will continue to be both for a long time.

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