How to read a magic book

Jun 1, 2009
Hey all,

I got Art of Astonishment vol. 1 for Christmas, and it's the largest magic book I have (next to Mark Wilson's, but I gave that away to a friend), and I'm doing my best to tackle it. I feel like magic books aren't read in the traditional way, where you start at the front and progress through the end in a linear way. Rather, it seems you browse until you come across an effect that sounds interesting, read the method, practice the method, and decide if it's something you want to add to your arsenal.

That's how I plan on attacking A0A, but I was wondering if anyone else has a different or preferred way to maximizing their time with a magic book? (As a bonus, I'll take any effects to check out first in AoA, I've heard Unshuffling Rebecca is a classic from there.)


Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
I read them cover to cover.

However, I do tend to skim the routines.

Personally, at this point in my career, I only put effort into learning a new method if A) I need it for my show, or B) It looks really fun and interesting.

So I'll skim over the method to see if there's anything that catches my eye, but mostly I read books for theory, philosophy, and personal stories from the author as that information is more valuable to me at this point.

I think a more universal application of that is this - Go through from cover to cover, but only really put energy into learning what you plan to use. Become at least passingly familiar with methods in general, which gives you a broad base to build your magic on, but you don't need to dedicate a lot of energy to things you'll never use. Unless it's fun enough to justify the energy spent. Then go for it.
Dec 11, 2017
odd someone hasn`t told you that this is a reveal so you need to buy a book to get a answer.

in any case. the way I read a magic book:
1.First I look trough the Table of content
2.Then I browse trough it all, just to get a idea of what the different chapters contain
3.Then I read the chapters that does interest me
4.Now I actually read it as a "book", skipping the sections I`ve already read due to point 3.

good luck reading ANY magic book from cover to cover....there are even magic books around that starts off with telling you that you SHOULDN`T read it as a "crime novel"
Dec 11, 2017
You say this like it's an impossible feat. You realize there's a lot of people out there that actually enjoy reading, right? I've read over a hundred magic books cover to cover. The only ones I don't read thoroughly are the ones that are all tricks.

yes, and none of them read a magic book like a crime novel as you claim to do....I`ve been doing this for a very long time.. you want to be a magician...that is not how you act (notice that I answered all your issues in these sentences)....let me take my "stoner approach" need to relax


Nov 1, 2009
New Jersey
If you are talking about Art of Astonishment -- READ IT COVER TO COVER!!! It is brilliant, funny, engaging and just wonderful. Every effect in the book is great - I'd end up listing the whole table of contents. Some of them I would never perform, but the idea is brilliant and the methods are amazing. Read the essays. They make you think about magic.
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