Books to read for a beginner/ intermediate magicians

Discussion in 'Magic Forum' started by JeffreyM7, Dec 21, 2018.


What books to read first? How much time to spend on a book for each trick daily?

Poll closed Feb 8, 2019.
  1. Royal Road and Encyclopedia of card tricks

  2. Tarbell Series and royal Road

Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. As of right now I have a ton of books collected and i don’t know where to start. I want to learn everything I possibly can because this is my full time job, or want it to be. Right now i am reading Royal Road, Encyclopedia of card Tricks, Scarne on card tricks, I also have the entire Tarbell Series, Pnemonica by Juan, Memorandum by Woody, Books of wonder volume 1-2, Steranko On Cards, Faro Exposed, Solomon’s secrets, Shattering Illusions, The Top Change, Mathew what women want, Anthony Owens Secrets, Expert Card Technique, Marlo without Tears, Modern Magic and Later Magic by Hoffman, Beyond Imagination by Norman Gilbreath, Less is more by Earl, Derren Brown Tricks of the Mind and Confessions of a conjuror, Tangled Web, Approaching Magic, Mathethimatical card magic by Colm Mulculchy, Labyrinth, and a few more like Guy hollowingsworth drawing room deceptions.... Sorry for the long list but I have been reading mainly the Royal Road and everything seems to simple or some moves in the book seem fishy while presenting them. My questions are which books should I focus on and how much should I read a day? I noticed I have been reading 5-10 tricks and practicing them, then a week later i forget more than half. Any ideas on what I should do to adjust my schedule? What books to read on getting more tricks under my belt etc? Sorry for the long essay. thanks for everyone’s time!
    Mr_ARPY likes this.
  2. How long have you been doing magic and what type of magic do you typically perform and for who do you usually perform?

    You mention that you want magic to be your full time job. What type of magic do you want to perform and where do you want to perform?

    My sense is that you should focus on reading books to learn plots and methods and then take effects that you want to perform as part of your repretoire and perfect those effects into performance pieces. The books you have range from close up, to parlor and to stage magic. You have a lot of stuff on cards, but also magic that uses other props. You also have some books on theory. So the answer is to focus on what you want to perform (and then go to the rest).
    Gabriel Z. likes this.
  3. I mostly do close up magic while using some props/ gimmicks and want to learn a lot of sleight of hand and even come up with my own variations of the turnover pass and other sleights to make them my style and unique. I am almost finished with the royal road but i also started Tarbell series one which is good so far. I think magicians i would want to be like would compare more to a combination of psychology/ close up magic. I love making people feel like a kid again and love how they wonder but at the same time love how the human brain works and can be manipulated in certain circumstances. Some people I admire are Jon Dorenbos(AGT’s), Shin Lim, Derren Brown, and many even Chris Ramsey to Spidey. I mostly work at restaurants and bars or do street magic for fun and practice
  4. For that, I'd go with Tangled Web, Drawing Room Deceptions and Approaching Magic. That will give you the best performance material. For that type of magic, I think the best resource for that sort of magic is Paul Harris's Art of Astonishment three volume set.

    Tarbell is great as is Modern Magic and Later Magic. However, I view them as resources to read, understand and adapt. If you want original material, there is a lot in there that you can adapt and use.
  5. Owning a multitude of books can be both a blessing and a curse. The problem can be lack of attention and focus and a consequent failure to master moves and tricks. This has a tendency to lead to mediocrity - practicing a lot of moves and tricks, but most all of them being only mediocre, or forgetting a lot. It is better to know one trick that you can perform extremely smoothly and entertainingly than 100 that are half-baked. Sleights are just tools. Learn only those you need to perform the trick you are learning and truly want to master.

    Many successful professionals in magic have a relatively small repertoire of tricks and routines, but can perform them exceedingly well. I would also recommend focusing on tricks that you really personally love and forget about the others. You will be more motivated to practice and perform such tricks. As a result they will be better, and your love for the magic will shine through to your audience. This, in turn, will lead to better reactions from them and more enjoyment for you - a win-win.
    JeffreyM7 and Gabriel Z. like this.
  6. Thanks a lot Dabra, that’s very helpful! I was definitely having that problem because i didn’t know where to start but now i have decided to focus my time on one book at a time, master it. Then if i decide I don’t like some of the tricks move them out of my repoitire and move on. I have about 5 tricks I can perform very well but don’t require any moves or sleights. So this year i want to challenge myself more- learn on simplicity and get peoples opinions on each performance. Let me know what you think about that and that’s for relying. Makes me feel like I’m not the only one and have somewhere to share my thoughts! Happy New Year!!
  7. You are welcome, and it sounds to me like you have a good plan and are on the right track to becoming a successful magical entertainer.
    JeffreyM7 likes this.
  8. Could someone provide the author / writer for some of the books listed above. I have found some of them, but others seem to be a little obscure. Having the full author's name would help.

    Thank you
  9. 1)Royal Road and Encyclopedia of card Tricks are by Jean Hugard
    2) Scarne on card tricks is by John Scarne
    3)Tarbell Series is by Harlan Tarbell
    4)Expert Card Technique- By Jean Hugard
    5) Pnemonica by Juan Tamariz- Great read once you understand concepts and the Royal Road as well as the next book in the list.
    6) Memorandum by Woody Allen
    7) Books of wonder volume 1-2 by Tommy Wonder and Stephan Minch,
    8) Steranko On Cards is by James Steranko (Great Read and under rated in my opinion) , Good book to get into after Royal Road
    9) Faro Exposed by Alfred Trumble
    10) Solomon’s secrets by David Solomon
    11) Shattering Illusions by Ian Swiss- Advanced
    12) The Top Change by Magic Christian
    13) Mayhew - What Women Want by John Lovick
    14) Anthony Owens Secrets by Anthony Owen and additional writing by John Lovick
    15) Marlo without Tears by Ed Marlo- Intermediate
    16) Modern Magic by Hoffman- Both this book and the next are old books from the old days of magic and how they did effects. Good knowledge to know, but mine were expensive since I have 1st editions. you can get them both cheaper on reprint.
    17) Later Magic by Hoffman
    18) Beyond Imagination by Norman Gilbreath
    19) Less is more by Benjamin Earl
    20) Derren Brown Tricks of the Mind by Derren Brown as well as
    Confessions of a conjurer by Derren Brown- these are a must read for me.
    21) Tangled Web by Eric Mead
    22) Approaching Magic by David Regal- More of a book on Theory of Magic
    23) Mathematical Card Magic by Colm Mulculchy- Great book to get if you want to fool the pants off of people but very complicated book as well to understand.
    24) Labyrinth by Stephen Hobbs- Intermediate, something you would want to get into after you master Royal Road, Encyclopedia of Card Tricks etc.
    25) Drawing Room Deceptions and other Card Conjurers by Guy Hollowingworth- Advanced and expensive

    Others I didn't mention above that I have also are:

    The Art of Astonishment Volumes 1-3 by Eric Mead
    Sleight of Hand by Edwin T. Sachs- Advanced
    Pure Effect by Derren Brown- Very Advanced and expensive. Hard to find as well- took me a long time to find this book on eBay.
    Dai Vernon's More Inner Secrets of Card Magic by Lewis Ganson- Never dove into this book
    The Dai Vernons Book of Magic- Yet to read- A lot of variety- Coins- cards, cups and balls, rings, Rope Magic, use of props, and cloth/handkerchief.
    The Card Magic of LePaul by Paul LePaul- have not dove into this book yet.
    Stars of Magic by Louis Tannen- more for cups and balls, coins, cards, bills. It has a little of everything.
    Now some of my favorites I have read!
    Semi-Automatic card Tricks- volumes 1-11 by Steve Beam- I definitely have not read all of these, but my good friend Vic wrote some of his own moves in Volume 11 and still has over 20-30 if not more moves and sleights that he will not even tell anyone to this day for the last 40 years! Thats what makes Magic so amazing- people and their ideas and not giving them up- which in turn makes you strive to be better and more creative. I can in no doubt say he is one that I look up to.

    The top 4, depending on what YOU are interested in, should be your starting point. If you love coins definitely start with the Tarbell Series in my opinion. otherwise the others will give you a great start. Hopefully I helped out with everything you needed! Let me know if there is anything else I may have missed.


    RealityOne likes this.
  10. Holy Cow! This is amazing!


    Thank you so much for taking the time to put all of this together. This is much, much more than what I was expecting. I appreciate your personal recommendations as well as all the information you put together. You are a true gentleman and a scholar of the art.

    Thanks again.

    Best regards,


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