Non Magic Books for Magic?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Dustrod, Jul 31, 2020.

  1. Are there any non magic related books you've read that have really helped your craft so much that you'd recommend them? Maybe it's a book on how to present yourself professionally and it's helped your stage show or maybe it's a mystery series full of mental puzzles and it's helped you develop clever illusions. I'm just curious.
    Al e Cat Dabra likes this.
  2. To quote Paul Draper quoting Max Maven, "Read everything."

    I think books like The Magicians by Lev Grossman and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel by Susanne Clarke present systems of magic that could feasibly exist in the real world. Another couple good ones are The Night Circus and The Starless Sea both by Erin Morgenstern.

    Books on lore and legend give you hints at what ancient people were mystified by. Pro tip: Contemporary people are mystified by many of those things as well.

    I read a lot of ghost stories, both "true" and totally made up. The structure of ghost stories works very well for magic performances.

    As a bizarrist I also find a lot of value in reading occult books. It's also just very interesting to see what people believe works.
    Dustrod likes this.
  3. Interesting, thank you!
  4. If you like to use stories in your magic (all collections of stories):
    Grimm's Fairy Tales
    One Hundred Wisdom Stories
    The Book of Virtues​
    Books on the History of Magic:
    The Last Greatest Magician by Jim Steinmeyer
    Hiding the Elephant by Jim Steinmeyer​
    NonFiction Books:
    Blink by Malcom Gladwell
    Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about Our Everyday Deceptions​
    Fiction Book:
    The Magician's Elephant (this is just beautifully written prose and shows how words can create imagination - it is a great book to read to children and a wonderful book for adults)​
    And a book that has influenced my thinking throughout life (which has nothing to do with magic):
    Illusions by Richard Bach​
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  6. There's a book called "Magic is Dead"
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  7. MAgic is dead, a good one!
    Dustrod likes this.
  8. This Is Real Magic by Nate Staneforth is another good one.
    Dustrod likes this.
  9. Tricks of the Mind by Derren Brown. Not a magic book per se, but it helped me think in a different way about magic.
    Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon.
    The Harry Potter series by Rowling.
    The Percy Jackson series and Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan.
    Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome.
    Sherlock Holmes series by Arthur C Doyle.

    But really, all books I've read, from The Fault in Our Stars to The Theory of Everything, they have all shaped me as an individual and introduced a new aspect of my mind to myself. They have revealed how I think (when I analyze which parts I found the most interesting, which parts made me cry, laugh and which were the parts I skimmed over).
    Thus they have all shaped my magic.

    Though this thread is not about that, I'd add ''watch everything'' as well. Especially with respect to movies. And try out listening to all kinds of music. But I won't fly off on a tangent...

    I think what's important in magic (and any art at all really) is to know yourself. But knowing more about ourselves becomes so much easier when we realise that we consume the content that we do, for a reason. There's a reason we hate something or love something. Through that, we can figure out ourselves.

    Often, a recurring advice by more experienced magicians is to ''be ourselves''.

    But in my opinion, only when we figure out at least a sliver of who we are, can we ''be ourselves''.
    Dustrod likes this.
  10. I remember way back when I started magic, Wayne Houchin said something that really resonated. Paraphrased, he said he didn't actually become a good magician until he stopped obsessing over magic. Meaning it wasn't until he had interests outside of magic that he was able to infuse his performances with genuine personality. That is, of course, what makes a performance relatable.

    Tangentially related Joss Whedon has said similar. He calls it "Filling up the tank". Whenever he's not working on a project he is experiencing art - books, plays, movies, whatever. Regardless of how one might fill about the man himself, it's solid advice.
    Dustrod likes this.
  11. Peter Pan. It's called a children's book, but it's an incredibly deep book that gives you insight into how children think, feel and view the world (so it can be helpful for your children's magic, if you do that). And if you're really lucky and open your mind to the sensation, you may just experience once again the sensations and fantasies of a child.

    I'd add to this, "watch everybody" (really getting off-topic here). If you're introduced to a new group or community of people, watch them and figure out how they think. I'm working for a roofing company over the summer holidays, and it's been really interesting to me to watch the people I work with, how they behave in a certain situation, how they interact with the world and other people, how they behave in a given situation and which traits they generally have. This will help you know more about more people, thus helping you to relate to them better.
  12. Spook by Mary Roach
    It outlines the actual science behind the supernatural. I love everything Mary Roach has written.

    59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman
    Super fun book on psychology that is easily accessible to anyone.

    But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman
    Funny, and interesting.

    I didn't love Magic is Dead, it kinda came off as Daniel Madison and Chris Ramsay fanfic. I like both Daniel and Chris but the book reflected an odd view of magic. It reminded me of a less nerdy (but still pretty nerdy) version of Fooling Houdini. Also, not a great book. Steve Spill's book I Lie for Money, was a better book in that genre. I really liked Nate Staniforth's book, This is Real Magic, but it definitely dragged in places.
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  13. And I'd add "Make sure you don't come off as a creep however."

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  14. I highly recommend How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. It's long been kind of my Bible for understanding the common sense psychology of what motivates and fascinates people and how to get them to be receptive to you and your magic. That is important both in the crafting of our presentations, including scripts/patter, and interaction with the spectators in real time.
    Dustrod likes this.
  15. She's the best for creative nonfiction. I love her style of writing. And I've read just about everything she's written.

    First pick that comes to mind is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I try to read it about once a year.

    (and I hit post and see that Al e Cat Dabra recommended this as well)
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  16. I cannot believe I forgot this earlier, but the Discworld series by the great Sir Terry Pratchett, in my highly biased opinion the best fantasy comedy writer to ever live.

    There's so much that could be said about these books, but there's a reason why I think it's relevant to your magic. Pratchett shows more than once that he doesn't just do some research into the groups of people we meet in his books (policemen, barmen, cheaters etc.), but does his best to get into their minds: How do they interact, feel, think, view the world?
    The magic users he writes about, though very different from us, are no exception. Beyond the fantastic and supernatural, you can see many aspects of our magic reflected in the sparkling oceans of the Disc. Several things Sir Terry writes make me think he may have practiced magic himself (see this post for an example of his perspective). All of this makes for fresh and fascinating new ways to look at our hobby.
    Dustrod likes this.
  17. For me it would be fantasy novels generally, especially ones where there's an alternate reality besides the one visible to the human eye.

    It's helped to make me think about the distinction between what what is actually happening in a trick, and what the spectator sees; and between method and effect.
    Dustrod likes this.
  18. Yes Non magic books are able to list in magic book and user favorite. Check bellow
    ren (The Romany Epistles)
    The Shadow Throne
    The Runaway King
    The False Prince
    Jeweler's Apprentice
    Captive of Raven Castle
    Dustrod likes this.

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