Essential Magic Reads: Books for a Magician's Library

From the innovative “Art of Astonishment” by Paul Harris to the foundational “Expert at the Card Table” by S.W. Erdnase, these ten must-read books will inspire and elevate your magic.

Essential Magic Reads: Books for a Magician's Library
Photo by Jessica Favaro / Unsplash

Every now and then here at The Magician’s Wand, we like to share essential lists. Right now, we are sharing some essential reads for any magician’s library. If you already have these books, pick them back up and give them another read!

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  1. Art of Astonishment, Vol 1, 2 & 3 by Paul Harris:

    All of the "Art of Astonishment" books are incredible reads. The philosophy throughout the books is fascinating, and the creativity and innovation of the effects and plots are far outside the box. You will find practical routines and material that will help you learn ‘how to think,’ inspiring your creativity in many ways.You will also venture far beyond the norm with these books, including the props used throughout the volumes. Many of the plots are updated classics, and if you enjoy creating magic, these insights will help you take the classics even further. Aside from this, these are very enjoyable reads and they’re crammed with practical routines.

  2. Strong Magic by Darwin Ortiz:

    This is a fantastic deep dive into routining and strengthening your magic. This book is good for beginners but may well be suited to performers who already have a set together and are looking for ways to increase the impossibility, applause cues, build-up, and refinement of their overall routines. It is a very well-thought-out book and exceptionally well put together.

    Many magicians say this book is like Marmite; you’ll either love it or hate it.

  3. Encyclopedia of Impromptu Magic by Martin Gardner:

    This book has a huge collection of ideas for magicians and magical performers. It doesn’t go too in-depth with a lot of the tricks, but it is crammed with ideas using everyday objects such as puzzles, bar bets, magic tricks, and methods to engage people with everyday items.

  4. Absolute Magic by Derren Brown:

    This is an amazing approach to choosing your approach to magic as your character. It does contain actual routines; however, if you are breaking away from the norm in magic and want to get away from the usual, then it’s a fantastic foundation to learn the approach, choose the right words, and refine your character and who you are presenting.

  5. Bobo's Coin Magic by J.B. Bobo:

    This book is vast and crammed with so much coin magic. At the time of its release, it was certainly like the encyclopedia of coin magic. Although hundreds of new routines have been released into the magic community since, many of these are based on or inspired by this incredible book. There are routines for beginners, advanced, and expert magicians, and there are sleights within reach of everyone’s abilities.

    There are often new editions released, and these will give you the tools to learn many modern routines.

    Highly recommended.

  6. Royal Road to Card Magic by Jean Hugard and Frederick Braue:

    "Royal Road to Card Magic" is an amazing book and will teach you so much. For me, it is similar to Bobo’s Coin Magic in the sense that it is vast and contains so much. It is written exceptionally well, refraining from teaching script, patter, and entertaining pieces. Instead, it teaches you incredible card tricks, sleights, and skills that are essential for the working magician's repertoire.

  7. Thirteen Steps to Mentalism by Tony Corinda:

    If you are interested in learning mentalism/mind magic routines, then this book is essential. Every time you pick it up, your mind fills with incredible mentalism ideas. It’s crammed with techniques, methods, routines, and psychology for magicians. So much of the groundwork of mentalism is covered within this book, including close-up mentalism, stage routines, and everything in between.

  8. Mnemonica by Juan Tamariz:

    "Mnemonica" is crammed with the world’s most used and useful stacked deck. It is so widely used by magicians that many magicians have made their careers working with this stack alone.

    Once you learn ‘the stack,’ you will unlock a gateway to new concepts in card stack magic routines, including gambling demonstrations, magic tricks, mentalism routines, and so much more. This truly is a masterpiece.

    Juan also shares a variety of mnemonic systems to help you memorize this stacked deck quickly and effectively.

  9. The Magic of Ascanio by Arturo de Ascanio:

    "The Magic of Ascanio" is a profound exploration of the theoretical and practical aspects of magic. Arturo de Ascanio, known as the "Father of Spanish Card Magic," delves deep into the psychology and subtleties of sleight-of-hand magic. This book is perfect for magicians looking to elevate their card magic with refined techniques and an understanding of the artistry behind effective magic performance. It is both an inspirational and instructional read.

  10. Expert at the Card Table by S.W. Erdnase:

    Often referred to as the bible of card magic, "Expert at the Card Table" by S.W. Erdnase is an essential read for any serious card magician. This book covers a comprehensive range of techniques for both card magic and gambling sleights, with detailed instructions and illustrations. It is a cornerstone of card magic literature and continues to influence magicians over a century after its publication. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced magician, the principles and techniques in this book are invaluable.

This collection encompasses a huge variety of skills, magic, and philosophies. Whether you are just starting in magic or looking to deepen your existing knowledge, these books provide a wealth of information and inspiration.

Together, they cover a broad spectrum of magic, from the intricacies of card and coin magic to the deep psychological underpinnings of mentalism.

Enjoy this top ten? Check out ten techniques to captivate your audience : we share secrets to building anticipations and engagement within busy performing environments.

Happy reading, and may your magic always astonish and delight!

Let us know in the comments below what you think!


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