10 Books Every Magician Should Read
Despite the popularity of magic downloads and DVDs, magic books continue to offer the greatest value for magicians. With centuries of resources available from books on card tricks to books on sleight of hand, it can be overwhelming for magicians to determine which magic book to read. So, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 books every magician should read.
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Why We Prefer Magic Books over Videos
Magic books allow you to learn in your own style instead of copying others and often have room for more details than videos. To put this in perspective, it’s like how the Harry Potter movies were forced to remove or change pivotal plot points that were featured in the books.
Before We Begin…
There are obviously more than 10 magic books that magicians should read. Magic is an art form where you must continually study and learn. However, we hope that this can be a good starting point for all magicians.
Additionally, most of these books focus on magic theory and improving your magic performance instead of teaching specific tricks or a set topic like “how to learn card magic.” These types of books offer the insight needed to become a truly great magician.
As a result, some seasoned magicians may notice that some of the top books for beginner magicians like Card College by Roberto Giobbi, Royal Road to Card Magic, Modern Coin Magic, 13 Steps to Mentalism and Expert Card Technique are notably absent.
We also wanted to only feature books that are easily obtainable at Vanishing Inc. or any other magic shop. Therefore, we haven’t included discontinued iconic magic books like 5 Points in Magic by Juan Tamariz, Mastering the Art of Magic by Eugene Burger or Williamson’s Wonders by David Williamson and Richard Kaufman.
With all that out of the way, Vanishing Inc. presents...
10 Books Every Magician Should Read
This classic 8-volume set from Harlan Tarbell is one of the most respected courses in magic. It features more than 100 detailed lessons across all aspects of magic from close-up magic to stage magic and parlor magic. In fact, nearly all modern magic tricks can trace their roots back to the Tarbell Course in Magic.
Spanning more than 500 pages, this comprehensive guide covers every type of magic trick from card magic to sleight of hand, coin magic, rope magic, spongeball magic, mind reading and even parlor magic and stage magic illusions. Nearly every professional magician has read Mark Wilson’s Complete Course in Magic and many of them even credit it with sparking their passion for magic.
The Books of Wonder is a 2-volume set from legendary magician Tommy Wonder that lays out a concise blueprint for creating real art and developing an uncompromising brand of magical theater. Along the way, Wonder proves his claims through explanations of his professional close-up magic, parlor magic and stage magic routines.
The Magic Way is considered by many to to be one of the greatest magic books ever written and is often cited as recommended reading for any magician. Written by Juan Tamariz, one of the world’s greatest living magicians, this book shares the secrets behind making your magic tricks so amazing and powerful, your audiences will just have to accept you can do the impossible.
Recently updated into Maximum Entertainment 2.0: Expanded & Revised, this book from Ken Weber is a modern classic that has been a bestseller since it was first released. Developed through years of research and performance testing, Maximum Entertainment offers invaluable and practical insight for developing a magic act that sets you apart from your peers.
While both of these books from Darwin Ortiz are phenomenal resources on their own, together they are an unmatched treatise on creating and performing truly powerful magic. These are books every magician should read and are ones you will reference often as your magic career progresses.
Strong Magic is one of the most substantial books on magic theory of our time. It examines what it takes to truly move an audience and offers the secrets to creating truly memorable magic. Ortiz’s quest to raise the level of craft in magic is continued in Designing Miracles, a groundbreaking study of how an audience thinks and what it takes to structure a magic trick that will amaze them.
Scripting Magic - Volume 1 details the secrets behind the most vital question in magic: “What do you say when you perform?” Featuring contributions from more than 25 of magic’s most respected thinkers and creators such as Max Maven, David Regal and Jon Armstrong, this book is a one-of-a-kind look at how to write, edit and perform compelling magic tricks.
This journey is continued in Scripting Magic - Volume 2 , which offers more advanced scripting techniques and real-world exercises. It also includes many ways you can use scripting to improve your magic, even if you don’t like performing with a written script.
One of the most innovative minds in magic, Paul Harris revolutionized close-up magic with his The Art of Astonishment series. This 3-volume set is a tremendous value offering more than 200 classic Paul Harris effects and essays. Countless professional magicians reference this series as inspiration for their most noteworthy magic tricks. You’ll never have more fun or feel more creatively inspired reading a magic book than you will with the The Art of Astonishment books.
This iconic book from Henning Nelms is an in-depth analysis of how techniques developed for the stage by playwrights, directors and actors can heighten the dramatic effect of a magician's performance. It analyzes every phase of magic tricks from sleight of hand to gimmicks, illusions, misdirection, patter and even the effective use of assistants.
The Works is an incredible 3-part series from one of magic’s most respected thinkers Jamy Ian Swiss that features challenging, informative, stimulating essays designed to elevate magic from craft to art.
In Preserving Mystery, Swiss focuses on the performance of magic, and how to improve the art and its artists. The second book, Devious Standards, features a detailed exploration of what constitutes great magic and what hinders it. Shattering Illusions, the final installment in The Works trilogy, examines why we do magic at all, what it means to be “commercial” in magic, what makes for good and bad magic, why the public holds magic in such low regard and much more.
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