The Five Best Card Magic Books For Beginners

By Joshua Jay - Friday, December 6, 2019


I mean, this is entirely subjective. And if you ask me this question tomorrow, it’s almost certain that I would have a different list. But it’s today, so I’ve created a list that I think would serve a beginner well. It’s an obvious point but one worth stating: this isn’t a list of the best five card magic books for magicians. It’s a list of books that I think are most helpful to a beginner with no prior experience.

  1. Card College 1-5. Okay, this is already five volumes, but as it’s one series I’ll count it as one. Roberto Giobbi’s five volumes are your best investment if you wish to learn card magic. They are as close to comprehensive as our industry has produced, and Giobbi’s books build cumulatively to Volume 5, which contains some lovely material using the techniques you’ve learned in the earlier volumes. There are nice tricks that use the sleights he teaches along the way, so this is like taking a course in magic. Vanishing Inc. has also put out Giobbi’s Card Magic Masterclass, which is a video equivalent to the Card College series.

  2. The Royal Road to Card Magic. This is Jean Hugard’s seminal work on card magic, and it served as “the” beginner book for card magicians for decades. The writing can be terse, and there isn’t as much descriptive detail as we’ve become accustomed to in the last twenty years, but this is an undoubtedly potent collection of classic card material, ranging from very easy to advanced. The book is worthy of careful study, and it has launched the careers of some of the best card magicians in the world.

  3. Joshua Jay's Amazing Book of Cards. I wrote this collection for the public as a primer to card magic. For young readers, I believe it’s a valuable guide to learning the basics: shuffling, basic card handling, and some amazing tricks using an ordinary pack of cards.

  4. Close-up Card Magic by Harry Lorayne. I’ve heard many magicians proclaim this book to be outdated, and that it isn’t even Harry Lorayne’s best book. But it’s widely considered a modern classic because it contains the right balance of strong and easy-to-do card magic, and Harry teaches in his inimitable casual style.

  5. The Secrets of Brother Hamman by Richard Kaufman. This probably shouldn’t be on the list, but adding it for personal reasons. This was my first “serious” magic book, and I felt true joy working through, truly, almost every trick in the book. It helped foster an appreciation for gaffed magic, and for offbeat methods. Not every trick is suitable for beginners, but there is enough great magic for beginners that you’ll certainly find your way.


Reader comments:

Anonymous

Saturday, 07 December 2019 13:28 PM - Reply to this comment

Great list Jay, except that it assumes that the beginner only wants to do card magic. Things like Bobo, Annemann's Mental Miracles, The Books of Wonder, etc., would introduce the beginner to a broader range of what magic has to offer.

Chi Han

Tuesday, 10 December 2019 10:12 AM

I agree with you. Although the title does say it is a list of the best card magic books for beginners, so I'm guessing this list is intended to be just card books...

Victor

Sunday, 08 December 2019 02:53 AM - Reply to this comment

My first "serious" magic book was Supermagic by Paul Harris. When I learned how to successfully perform Reset, my life changed.

Mason

Monday, 09 December 2019 01:14 AM - Reply to this comment

My first serious magic book was Mark Wilson’s guide to magic. It was(and is) so much fun to learn so much good magic!

Mason

Monday, 09 December 2019 12:47 PM - Reply to this comment

My first serious magic book was Mark Wilson’s guide to magic. It was(and is) so much fun to learn so much good magic!

John

Monday, 09 December 2019 18:41 PM - Reply to this comment

My first card magic book that got me going in card magic is “The Secrets of Bro. John Hamman”. It is a great book on card Magic.

Avi

Tuesday, 10 December 2019 15:57 PM - Reply to this comment

Awesome list. I would also add Card College Light-Lightest which round out the sleight-intensive education of 1-5 with a solid framework of self-working miracles.

If I were to make a list that a lifetime of study could be done on, it would be:
1) Royal Road to Card Magic
2) Card College Light-Lightest
3) Magic in Mind
4) Card College 1-5
5) Mnemonica
specifically in that order

BGG Reviewer

Thursday, 19 December 2019 02:49 AM - Reply to this comment

For a beginner with no experience, I would recommend Roberto Giobbi's Card College Light instead of his Card College 1-5.

Or better yet, I'd suggest his 150 page ebook entitled "Roberto Giobbi's Introduction to Card Magic" (available on his website for €6.95). It's designed to be an introductory course in card magic, and includes half a dozen self-working tricks, plus tons of great teaching material about elementary card handling. Perfect for the beginner.

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