Before reading this review, you should know that I have read more than a 1,000 books in my lifetime (including almost 200 magic books), and I almost never read any book twice. As I read Joshua’s book, I knew, almost immediately, that I would have to read it again, and again.
In fact, when I normally read a magic book, I flag effects, as well as passages, that I may want to reflect upon later; knowing that I will never re-read the entire book again. Joshua’s book was so engaging, that I initially skipped the flagging operation, because I didn’t want my reading to be interrupted by flagging. I told myself, “I will flag it on the second reading.” As soon as I finished the first reading, I immediately read it again, flagging more than 400 passages.
Second, I can count the number of reviews that I’ve written on one hand (and that’s for all products, not just magic). It is exceedingly rare for me to feel strongly enough to write a review. Besides, by the time I get to reviewing a book/product, someone, usually many people, have already written great reviews.
However, with this book, I feel compelled to say something.
In short, this book is magnificent. On the surface, it seems to be a list of answers to the lay public’s questions about magicians and magic. But it is so much more than the sum of its parts. Underneath, it is really a love letter, from a magician, ostensibly to the public, but also to magicians.
As a magician, you might think, “So what? How can this help me be a better magician?” Well, I can only say that I wish I had read this book early on in my magic career. It can, and will, make a big difference in how I approach, and think about, magic.
If you are a magician, this book is for you. If you are not a magician, but are always looking for fresh, interesting reads that will change how you think, then this book is for you. Either way, you will be missing out if you skip this book.
Perhaps, the best aspect of the book (for me) is the freeing nature of Joshua’s descriptions of the many varied styles, and approaches to magic that are embodied in his descriptions of famous magicians. As a performer who has struggled with “finding my style”, Joshua’s writing affirms that not only does the house of magic have many rooms, but it also has myriad, beautiful personalities, that together enrich the art, making it engaging for our audiences.
A few years back, after a lecture, Jamy Ian Swiss asked me, “Why do you do magic?” To which, I responded, “Because it is fun.” Jamy quipped back, “Lots of things are fun, why not be a comedian?” In the moment, I didn’t have a good response. Since that day, I have refined my answer (to Jamy’s question) many times, and in many ways. Now, after reading Joshua’s book, I can add another piece to my answer, “Because I must.”