How can I get the most from magic books?

Discussion in 'Magic Forum' started by pit820, Mar 23, 2019.

  1. TL;DR I want to get the most from magic books as I think I'm going about using them wrong and I'm not finding them very helpful.

    So I've been doing magic for a few years now and I like to think myself as reasonably experienced. When I work I do close up, mainly with cards. And I've dabbled with everything from ropes to thumb tips. I'd love to learn more about coins as it fits well with my style (smart walk around).

    Over the last 3 years I've accumulated a number of classic book titles (I will list them at the bottom) and I have also acquired quite a few magic videos. Perhaps because it's what I first learnt with I always find that videos are really helpful however when I read books I don't feel I learn the same amount of material as I don't quite know where to start. I can of course watch a video in half an hour and learn a routine to practice, as they've already done the research work. But when I sit down for a whole evening I often feel like I haven't learnt anything and it's like sifting through a haystack.

    Do you have any tips on finding material in books so I can learn from the valuable sources that I feel are just gathering dust on my shelf. I would love to learn more use for the Mnemonica stack as I took time to practice and learn that; and as I'm neither a coin magician (I can do all the basic palms and know very basic coin magic but don't perform it in a working environment) nor a mentalist, I've barely touched those books as I simply don't know where to start.

    My book collection includes: The expert at the card table, Expert card technique, Royal road to card magic, Modern coin magic, 13 steps to mentalism, Mnemonica, Mark Wilson's complete course, and a few other books.

    Thank you if you've taken the time to read my ramblings, any advice is greatly appreciated.

    izykid12 likes this.
  2. To me, this sounds like it might be more of a learning style issue that an issue with how you are using the books. You likely learn best by watching someone perform the routine rather than creating mental pictures. That's normal. I tend that way too.

    In my meager experience, reading books and following the directions can be very difficult. I think that magic authors do this on purpose to conceal the art of magic even while revealing it. There is, however, a certain ease that develops the more you read and practice. The method I use is to read through the effect a time or two to get a sense of the narrative. Half the time I decide not to learn the trick after the second read-through because I don't like it or it doesn't fit my style. If it has a sleight I think I want, then I just learn that sleight. After that, I start working through the effect with the cards in my hands. This can be a frustrating process. Hugard/Braue are pretty easy to learn from, if you are willing to wrestle them a bit. Erdnase is really difficult. Half the time I can't even figure out how he wants me to hold the cards. One I have a general understanding of the moves, I will run the effect a few times in the mirror to see if I have the sleights roughly correct to how I think they should look. If I don't, it is back to the book.

    If you can't nail a sleight, look it up on YouTube. Even if you don't find an instructional video, watch someone do the trick that uses the sleight a few times, and you'll be able to figure it out. I mentioned this in another thread, and I am sure that some would take offense at this, but I only learn effects that interest me, especially if I am learning it from a book. If I am not interested, I know I won't take the time to learn because I will see a video of another effect and start to learn that one.

    I don't practice mentalism or coin magic, so I cannot say much about that. I have tried several times to learn coins from a book and failed spectacularly each time. Maybe I need to follow my advice above!

    I hope you find something helpful in there...
    Mr_ARPY and pit820 like this.
  3. Still a newbie here but I like to read the effects in the books (not the explanations) to narrow it down to a few I would like to try out. I then take my choices and go through the books description as it is written, to assist this I find doing it as I am reading each line helps keep the perspective I need to go through the moves. If there is a video of someone performing the move or routine I also watch that for help too. Not necessarily a tutorial, even a performance helps me see how things should look.

    After some time I decide that I either like the trick or not well enough to pursue more time with it...meaning if it is something I would like to one day perform I will continue practicing it as best I can. Returning to the book for the little details helps making little tweaks or breaking down a portion...don't be afraid to write notes in the margins of your cheaper books. Add post its if you don't like that.

    It is interesting to go back and see that some of your notes will not age well and you may have different opinions on routines you once overlooked!
  4. Thank you for your replies this has given me some really good ideas to move forward with, such as watch performance videos.

  5. Hi,

    You say you meant no offense by saying certain things, and I myself take no offense to anything you've said..

    As for your comment above, I agree that some authors make it more difficult than it really has to be when explaining a move or trick.. Some are better at it than others.. I think it comes back to the whole "A Magician never reveals his secrets." bit..

    It's more of a "we'll give you the basics of it, you figure it out from there" routine.. Which I get in a way.. Many Magi like to put their own spin on a trick or illusion as the case may be.. Some people may only need the basics of it, whereas some may need more in depth detail of it..

    I personally am the type of person, that while I collect books on the subject matter, I'm more of a hands on type of person that needs the visual aid of it.. I can read a book on a trick all day long, but you show me visually how it's done, and I got it the first time..

    This is just me though.. Most others might feel differently about it..
    cahan likes this.
  6. Well, I can’t say much about mentalism, but when it comes to coins and cards, I mainly learn sleights rather than tricks. I’m usually looking for a specific sleight that I’d wanna learn and if I can’t find a reasonably good video tutorial, or I’m looking for more details on it, I’ll read the book description. If I’m learning a new sleight that I found by accident in a book, I’ll try my best to understand the mechanics from reading it over and over a few times, if I still don’t fully understand, I’ll watch a performance of its execution on youtube. If there are no vieos or you still cant understand, you can always ask for help online. There are always people who can help you. Probably the best place to do that though is here, or the subreddit /magic section.
    The easiest books to learn from are those with the most amount of pictures in them, and one of the best books to help you start learning from, is the Card College series. If you start learning from something like card college or ECT, you’ll get the knack of learning from books and can work your way into the more difficult omes like EATCT.
  7. So what I think about most magic books is that they are extremely basic. Although some of them are very helpful in learning new ways to use these slights, but most of them you would probably need at least a preview of the book and what it tells you. However if you get the right book you could learn a lot.
    pit820 likes this.
  8. All of the books you have selected are older books that are more difficult to learn from with the exception of Mark Wilson's book and Mnemonica. Mark's book is great because it has good explanations and pictures. The most frequent thing I hear about that book is the material seems "too easy." That isn't a bad thing! Mnemonica is about memorizing the stack. Once you have it the effect work beautifully.

    I tend to read book and try to visualize what the effect looks like to the audience and then what the sleights look to the performer. Almost an imaginary performance from both perspectives. If I like what I see, I learn the effect. Otherwise, it gets stored in my memory for some point in time where I need to remember for some reason or another.
    DominusDolorum and pit820 like this.
  9. I would (and do personally) rephrase this question as - how can I get the most from text books.

    We study magic, so magic books are our academic text books!

    If you take this rephrased question and google it, you will find literally thousands of ways of getting more from your study. Some really good tips and techniques from other disciplines that are immediately transferable and powerfully effective!
  10. (Although this post seems pretty old and the OP has probably improved a lot)

    How to get most from books?

    Be Patient.
    Remind yourself over and over again that the easiest effect in RRTCM will hit stronger than the hardest effect taught in a YT video.

    Where to start?

    Wherever you open the book.

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