MAGIC-CON 2010 : Definitive Recommended Reading List


vp of development
Staff member
Aug 5, 2007
The following list represents a number of books I feel registrants of 2010's MAGIC-CON conference, as well as serious practitioners of magic and mentalism in general, should closely examine - all taken from my personal bookshelf. When I say reading I'm using the term extremely loosely. Each of these requires serious study to fully attain every grain of wisdom hidden within their pages.

Note that this is a personal list of texts I find notable, and is by no means "official" required reading. That said, I hope each of you invest the time into some (or all) of the following recommendations. Feel free to add to this list, by responding to the thread directly.

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- The Illustrated History of Magic by Milbourne and Maurine Christopher : Fascinating stories of the world's greatest conjurers - from sorcerer priests in ancient Egypt, to Chung Ling Soo and Houdini, to modern miracle workers like David Copperfield and David Blaine. Filled with fantastic illustrations, this book is a feast for anyone interested in the history of the conjuring arts.
- The Tarbell Course in Magic (Vol. 1 - 8) by Harlan Tarbell : The most respected course in magic. These classic volumes cover every aspect and interest in the art of magic performance - with more than 100 detailed lessons over the course of eight volumes.
- The Expert at the Card Table by S. W. Erdnase : The classic treatise on card manipulation (known as the Bible to many). For almost a century, this book has been considered indispensable to attaining the highest level of card mastery. The most famous, carefully studied book ever published on the art of manipulating cards.
- Thirteen Steps to Mentalism by Tony Corinda : Considered the Bible for mentalists and magicians interested in "mental magic" - written by Tony Corinda. I reference this book regularly... and by regularly I mean all the time. Essential reading.
- The Royal Road to Card Magic by Jean Hugard and Frederick Braue : Required reading for anyone looking to study card magic seriously.
- Practical Mental Magic by Theodore Annemann : The step-by-step detail, clarity and inclusiveness of this collection, along with the author's intimate knowledge of the art of mentalism and magic, make this a volume that you should definitely have on your bookshelf - no question.
- Art and Artifice by Jim Steinmeyer : A collection of five essays that shows how the great stage illusions were integrally products of their time, based on the traditions and fashions of the people, and the offspring of the incredible, inventive personalities who brought them to the stage. Like no other author, Jim Steinmeyer gives us insight into the timeless appeal of magic. (Suggested by Chase Goforth)
- Hiding The Elephant by Jim Steinmeyer : A thorough journey through the rich history of magicians, their creations, and their quest for the impossible. (Suggested by Chase Goforth)
- The Discoverie of Witchcraft by Reginald Scot : Written by Reginald Scot in 1584, this book was intended as an exposé of medieval witchcraft - and also contained a small section that is considered the first published material on magic, intended to show how the public were fooled by charlatans. (Suggested by Phil)
- Mark Wilson's Complete Course In Magic : One of the most referenced and comprehensive magic teach-in's ever assembled. The secrets to more than 300 classic tricks - from sleight of hand to levitation - are carefully explained in this 503-page volume. (Suggested by Ian)

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- Absolute Magic by Derren Brown
- Strong Magic by Darwin Ortiz
- Designing Miracles by Darwin Ortiz
- Five Points in Magic by Juan Tamariz
- Tangled Web by Eric Mead
- Maximum Entertainment by Ken Weber
- Scripting Magic by Pete McCabe
- The Fitzkee Trilogy by Dariel Fitzkee
- Books of Wonder (Vol. 1 - 2) by Tommy Wonder
- Magic and Meaning (Expanded) by Eugene Burger and Robert Neale (Suggested by Chase Goforth)

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- Magic and Showmanship by Henning Nelms
- Win The Crowd by Steve Cohen
- Introducing NLP by Joseph O'Connor [Rapport Building / Learning Techniques]
- The Complete Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
- Magic 1400s - 1950s by Mike Caveney, Jim Steinmeyer, and Ricky Jay [Inspiration / Historical Reference]
- Talent Is Overrated by Geoff Calvin
- Rules For Revolutionaries by Guy Kawasaki (Suggested by Chase Goforth)

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- Totally Out of Control by Chris Kenner
- The Art of Astonishment (Vol. 1 - 3) by Paul Harris
- Stars of Magic by Meir Yedid
- Mysterious Stranger by David Blaine
- Drawing Room Deceptions by Guy Hollingworth
- Mnemonica by Juan Tamariz
- Annotated Erdnase by Darwin Ortiz
- Pure Effect by Derren Brown
- Psychological Subtleties (Vol. 1 - 3) by Banachek
- The Osterlind Trilogy by Richard Osterlind
- The Memory Book by Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas
- The Conjuring Anthology by Jim Steinmeyer (Suggested by Chase Goforth)
- Walt Disney Imagineering by The Imagineers (Suggested by Chase Goforth)
- Life Savers by Michael Weber (Suggested by Austyn Simpson)
- The Amateur Magician's Handbook by Henry Hay (Suggested by Chase)
Mar 25, 2008
What a GREAT list.

As I come from a stage perspective, I would like to add a few titles to the FUNDAMENTALS that might be helpful to someone with a similar bent:
Art & Artifice by Steinmeyer
Hiding the Elephant by Steinmeyer
These books give a great overview of the development of modern magical principles.

Magic And Meaning by Burger and Neale

Rules For Revolutionaries by Kawasaki
(Not a "Magic Book", but a book on creative innovation with more application to magic than you'll ever be able to put into practice.)

The Conjuring Anthology by Steinmeyer
Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Scenes Look At Making The Magic Real by They Imagineers
(A GREAT book about the evolution of ideas and the effort it takes to bring those ideas to life.)

Looking forward to learning a LOT and having some great conversation at Magic-Con!


Elite Member
Aug 31, 2007

As Chase said very impressive list. I'd add The Discoverie of Witchcraft by Reginald Scot as an essential read too. It is after all considered to be the first text published on conjuring.
Prism by Max Maven should also be there along side Psychological Subtleties.
For those who can find copies - Our Magic by Maskelyne & Devant, Greater Magic by John Northern Hillard and (you'll have to go some to find this one) The Mind and Magic of David Bergals by David Britland are all fantastic books everyone should be seeking out.



forum moderator / t11
Sep 14, 2008
Louisville, OH
Darn you Jon, I see about 10 books now on that list that I am going to have to buy now soon...ha ha. Thanks man. That was quite the list.


vp of development
Staff member
Aug 5, 2007
Awesome recommendations guys. Just added a few more suggestions to the list. Keep 'em coming! Hopefully this can serve as a comprehensive guide to notable books in magic, mentalism, and beyond.
May 9, 2008
Thank you thank you thank you! I've been looking for a comprehensive list like this. This is exactly what I needed to get my start into books.
Two books that I find to have been the greatest guides in my journey thus far would be

The Amateur Magician's Handbook- A guide full of every genre of magic, and the ever-so essential psychology behind the art.

The Alchemical Tools- For me, this was the definitive, modern, essential textbook on performing magic and making true "miracles." It inspired me to take the simplist of effects and change transform them into real magic in my spectator's and my eye.

All the best,

Incredible list!
Mar 25, 2008
The Chases think alike. I'm terribly embarrassed that I didn't think of Hay's Amateur Magician's Handbook. It was a formative text for a LOT of guys, including me. Finding that book in a used book store was a seminal moment in my life.
The Chases think alike. I'm terribly embarrassed that I didn't think of Hay's Amateur Magician's Handbook. It was a formative text for a LOT of guys, including me. Finding that book in a used book store was a seminal moment in my life.
You stole my other recommendations. It appears that the name Chase is withheld for only a glorious few. :cool:

All the best,
Dec 17, 2007
Why is The Magic Coloring Book not on here? It's a classic. Sheesh why not just go to the movies without sneaking in a gallon of ketchup. Seriously though great list, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone on here who read at least 4 of these. Own yes, read no.

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