Classic Books Every Magician Should Have:

Can’t I just watch it on TV???

By Mark Reed aka Marc Mayhem of MagicVault

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must be worth a million words, right?

Well, that is the topic of this article. How do videos fit into the path of learning magic, and what about those antique things that grandpa used to use – called “books”?  

In today’s world of YouTube and magic videos that are more grunge MTV style videos than magic, it is hard to see how anyone can even learn magic as it is intended. The fast and flashy videos teach the moves, and sometimes even a little history… but can videos offer the depth and personal involvement of a book?  

I speak often about the need for magicians to learn the “soul” of an effect – the history, the variations, ect… While videos may offer some insight, books are traditionally the method used to dive deep into the history of magic.  

There is a level of personal involvement when you sit down and read a book. It is a level much deeper and richer than simply watching a DVD. The brain retains more when you read material. It has to think more and even allows for greater creative interpretation. Books are the foundational elements of any course of study. If videos offered a better sense of learning, then doctors, lawyers, and many other professionals would be using video in place of books – however you still see books at the core of any system of study. 

Books are also the method used to gain access into the past history of magic. Reading the words directly written by the likes of Dai Vernon, Houdini, and many of the other masters of magic’s past. This is what needs to be stressed to today’s youth entering the magic scene. Magic is not the grunge video they see on ellusionist or Youtube. Magic is not the “watch and repeat” mindset that many videos push. Magic is about indulging yourself with information that sparks your mind and boosts your own sense of creativity and passion. This is what many “video mentored” magicians lack. As I said before – they lack the “soul of magic” and that is something any audience can pick up on. 

Video is a great enhancement to book learning. I strongly promote video AFTER the books. For example – Royal Road to Card Magic… Yes we all know it is a painful book to read – but it is in that painful prose that the mind aggressively comes forth to comprehend and interpret – which is what helps you make the magic your own. Supplemented then with one of the video interpretations and you now also expose yourself to the sight of how someone else made this book part of themselves. 

One thing to keep in mind – those of you watching videos only… ask yourself this… How did the person I am watching learn magic? Did they read books? More than likely if they are any magician worth buying a video of – then yes they did. 

Do not rely on just the visual presentation and teaching of magic. Buy yourself a book. Spend time embracing that book and bleeding out every bit you can. Post questions and comments on magic forums about various things you come across in the book. Make the book a living part of your magic study. 

A book is more than pages with words – it is a key to magic’s soul. 

A Few Classic Books Every Magician Should Have:

The Tarbell Series Volumes 1 to 8 – still easy to find. In fact we sell them at MagicVault. 

The Fitzkee Trilogy – Out of Print and can be found on ebay or sometimes we carry them in our used books section at MagicVault.

Mark Wilson’s Course on Magic – Available everywhere…even Barnes and Noble! 

Greater Magic – Out of Print and very hard to find. 

Stars of Magic – Out of print, we occasional have some at MagicVault. Rumors of a new reprint coming out have been confirmed. Look for it soon. 

Royal Touch by Cellini – Rare book. One of the classics on Street Magic. Occasionally available at MagicVault.

Books of Wonder vol 1 and 2 by Tommy Wonder – an incredible collection of works by Tommy Wonder that sets the standard for many books. 

And one of the more modern books EVERY entertainer needs to read:

Maximum Entertainment  by Ken Weber – This book will change your life as a performer.

If you are uncertain of any of these books, let me know – I will gladly help you understand why they need to be a part of your studies. These are just a few. I always suggest that you look over your favorite performers and read about them. Then find out who they studied – follow the chain and study. 

Well, I’ve ranted long enough about the value of books – it’s time I log off and go read one myself! Hmmm.. what should I crack open today… I think it’s feeling like a Tarbell Volume 3 day.

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