By Paul Knight
I’m going to give awards to the very best magic books in print. The Merchant of Magic shop asked me to share with you, the books I feel should be on every magicians bookshelf. Before I start listing my ‘winners’ I want to mention why magic books are so important to me, and should be to you as well.
In the age of instant downloads and DVDs learning magic has never been more accessible and quicker to perfect. This obviously has many advantages as visual learning speeds up the learning process ten-fold. However, living in this `instant age` can breed a laziness in us all. It can condition us to want things to be easier they are. This in turn, can make us lose out on the gems that have been put in writing by our peers.
Being of the old school approach I am a lover of books. The feel, the smell, and the entire experience of losing yourself. The knowledge that, quite possibly at that time, I may be the only person reading the book. As a result, any gems I discover, feel like a personal find, as opposed to it being handed to me.
Primarily for me, the biggest joy and benefit of reading books on magic is that whilst reading, you instantly visualize yourself performing the effect. Watching DVDs of magicians performing is all well and good, but the patter and the animation of the performer are also passed to you. This can hinder your performance when you finally show the trick to spectators as you will be performing the trick as you witnessed it, not how you interpret it.
With so many books out there, and no visual reference point to refer too, which books should you give your time? Where is the hidden gold?
From my own personal experience, this is what I suggest should be the `essential` books on your bookshelf, not only as sources to learn new tricks, but as reference points on tricks, techniques, performing and psychology.
Some people may disagree. If you feel I’ve missed a book book out, or you think I’ve awarded a place in these awards to a book that does not deserve it, Let me know in the comments section below.
Diamond Jim Tyler is a working pro, and this book is testament to that. A true pic and mix of tried and tested tricks suited for close up and stand up. Cards, coins, cups, business cards, levitation’s, cutlery bending, its all here all wrapped up in commercial presentations. If I ever want to learn a new effect that I know will play well to spectators instantly, whenever I pick up this book and always find a winner. Also, for its price the content is amazing value for money.
Paul Harris changed the face of close-up magic. His ingenious thinking, off the wall plots and methodical approach cemented his place in magic history as one of the greatest thinkers in close up magic. These three books contain all his best creations. Cards, coins, pens, food, you name it Paul Harris has created a piece of magical weirdness with it. Not only are these volumes literally filled to the brim with amazingly clever effects, the essays covered are fascinating, and Paul`s thoughts on what he describes as `the moment of astonishment` should be studied and put into practice by every magician. These books are essential, and I guarantee if you buy one volume, you WILL end up buying all three.
Compiled in 1928 and comprising of 8 volumes The Tarbell course in Magic is essentially an encyclopedia on all related to magic. Many professional magicians have based their careers on these books. If you have an interest in the classics, these are the books for you. If you want a course in magic that you will revisit over an over, again this is the collection you need. If you want more magic than you can ever perfect, look no further. The Tarbell course in magic is regarded as a classic bible of magic, and a classic for good reason as it has survived the test of time.
Superb practical real world strong magic with amazing commercial presentations. Both of these books are a wonderful collection of cards coins, again as all the books I have suggested, all tested in the real world with real spectators, so you know immediately that all the wrinkles and nuances have been ironed out, and all the patter is included. Not only are these excellent books due to the content, but the quality of the paper and the books feels and reads like a dream.
So, there you have it…….from reading far too many books and having too much time on my hands these are what I consider classics, from which I use material from for the real world.
However, I do have two more. These aren’t specifically books relating to tricks, more so theory and good practice in performing, that i strongly believe if read and dissected contain priceless information for any performer of any level or creed.
If you consider the art of performing deserves an understanding, then this book is for you. It approaches the Art of Close up magic and what makes its strong, why it works and is a fascinating read. Reading this book will better your understanding of performance and in turn make you a better person yourself. A truly insightful read.
Possibly the first book to focus solely on the use of misdirection in magic, covering in depth the hows, whys and psychology employed when using misdirection. Dariel clearly understands his art immensely, which comes across as you read, think and dissect what you do as a performer, and as a person. A truly eye opening read that makes the thinker think and the hobbyist improve tenfold.