My Favorite Magic Books: Matt Baker

By Matt Baker - Thursday, April 21, 2022

We asked some of magic's greatest minds to share with us their favorite Magic Books. This week is the turn of Matt Baker. You may know him from his own amazing book "The Buena Vista Shuffle Club". Over to Matt:


My Three Favorite Magic Books Matt Baker (with a special guest appearance by the Buena Vista Shuffle Club)

It was a tough choice, but I decided on the following as my three favorite magic books:

  1. "The Books of Wonder" by Tommy Wonder and Stephen Minch. Tommy Wonder was one of the most innovative magicians of all time, and his insistence on perfecting every detail never fails to inspire. All of this attention to detail shines through in the “Books of Wonder”. However, what sets this two-volume work apart from everything else are the penetrating essays sprinkled liberally throughout both volumes. Tommy Wonder thought deeply about magic, and together with Stephen Minch was able to put a number of invaluable thoughts and observations into print.

  2. "Dai Vernon’s Inner Card Trilogy" by Lewis Ganson Twisting the Aces. Emotional Reaction. Matching the Cards. Out of Sight, Out of Mind. Oil & Water. The Trick That Cannot be Explained. Revolutionary work on crimps, forces, color changes, palming, the second deal, and the top change. Do you really want me to continue?

  3. "Try the Impossible" by Simon Aronson It’s no secret that I’m a huge Simon Aronson fan. Both his methods and plots are extraordinary, and his writing is a model of clarity. I think ALL of his books are phenomenal, but “Try the Impossible” is probably my favorite. The first part of the book is an in-depth exploration of Simon’s “Undo Influence” principle, perhaps the greatest innovation in mathematical card magic since the Gilbreath Principle. The rest of the book contains terrific memorized deck routines such as “The Invisible Card” and “Two Beginnings” as well as neoclassic effects like “O’Aronson Aces” and “Decipher”. Honorable mention: “Simply Simon”, which contains Simon’s best memorized deck material.

With Vanishing Inc’s permission, I’ve also asked each of the three members of "The Buena Vista Shuffle Club" to tell us briefly about THEIR favorite magic book.

Bernie: I already know way more tricks than I’ll ever use, so for me the most valuable books are the ones which influence the way I think about magic in general. And for my money, the best book on magic theory ever written is Darwin Ortiz’s "Strong Magic".

Ray: It’s certainly a great book. But I might have gotten even more out of "Designing Miracles".

Bernie: Also great, but I’m sticking with my first choice.

Dev: My top pick is also a theory book: "Scripting Magic" by Pete McCabe. I never used to write out scripts before reading that book, and now that I’ve seen the light I’ll never go back.

Bernie: Good. I can still remember you prattling on endlessly back in the old days.

Ray: The tricks in "Scripting Magic" are really great, too! Even if it weren’t such a treasure trove of good advice, I’d recommend it just for the routines themselves.

Dev: Yes, absolutely.

Ray: Why did you pick "Scripting Magic" over "Scripting Magic 2"?

Dev: Well, a lot of people think the Godfather, Part 2 is better than the original, but I’m not one of them. I just find that sequels inevitably lack the freshness that comes with going first. Or perhaps it’s just harder for me to feel excited the older I get.

Bernie: There’s a little blue pill for that, you know.

Dev [ignoring Bernie]: What about you, Ray?

Ray: I’d have to go with "Mnemonica" by Juan Tamariz. All of us in this group love memorized deck magic, and there’s simply no question that Mnemonica is the bible of the subject.

Bernie: “Mnemonica” is too light on presentational details to be considered a truly great book. I think Juan’s best book is "The Magic Way". His ideas there are game changers. "The Magic Rainbow" has numerous profound observations as well, but from an organizational point of view it’s a complete mess.

Dev: This is great, we’re trashing the world’s greatest living magician! Hold on, I need to go get some popcorn.

Bernie: I’m not trashing Juan, I’m just trashing his writing.

Ray: We’d better wrap this up, fellas, before the magic police come after us. It’s been a pleasure, as always.

Dev: That’s exactly what I said to your girl-

Ray: Unfortunately Vanishing Inc. says we’ve now hit the word count limit for their blog. Hold that thought until next time, Dev…

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