Three Non-Magic Books You Might Enjoy

By Joshua Jay - Sunday, January 3, 2021

Here are three books that aren’t magic books, but involve topics that would be interesting to magicians.

Go to Amazon and buy a used copy of this book right away. It’s my very favorite work of fiction, and a lovely story. Norman Maclean taught writing at the University of Chicago and waited until late in his life before he published this book, his memoir of life in turn-of-the-century Montana. The famous tagline, “I am haunted by waters,” is a beautiful and famous line that will affect you deeply when you read it in context. But within this collection is another short story by Maclean: “The Ranger, the Cook, and the Hole in the Sky,” and it’s about his encounter with a cardsharp in a logger’s camp. It’s a great story that will appeal to anyone interested in sleight-of-hand.

One more thing: Ricky Jay played this role in the made-for-television movie, also called The Ranger, the Cook, and the Hole in the Sky.” The film stars Sam Elliot, and while it’s no Oscar-winner, it’s a cute film and worth a watch if only for the Ricky Jay interlude.

King of Confidence by Miles Harvey

This just came out, and it’s the incredible story of a man who conned his way into forming a cult on an island in Lake Michigan. No magicians are involved, but we magicians tend to love confidence men, and this may be the ultimate scam story.

Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje.

This is heavy, heady literary fiction, but it’s also one of the most beautifully-written books you’ll ever encounter. It’s a love story, in a way, named after a street in San Francisco. But it also involves sleight-of-hand in a tangential way. David Ben is thanked in the book for consulting.

Reader comments:


Monday, 04 January 2021 02:11 AM - Reply to this comment

What are the non-magic books that Andi recommends?


Tuesday, 05 January 2021 19:19 PM - Reply to this comment

King of Confidence is amazing.


Tuesday, 26 January 2021 21:12 PM - Reply to this comment

I would add Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell to that lit, it has an amazing point of view on how a real magician could be.

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