7 Best Books for Magicians – From Classics to Modern Magic

If you’re looking to expand your knowledge of magic and its history, as well as improve your skills, you’re in luck! There are plenty of books out there that can help you do just that. From the earliest texts on magic to modern-day classics, this guide will help you discover the best books for magicians of all levels.

7 Best Books for Magicians - From Classics to Modern Magic

The History of Magic Literature

If you’re interested in the history of magic, there are many books that can take you on a journey through the ages. The earliest texts on magic go as far back as 2000 BCE in Ancient Egypt, with the famous Ebers Papyrus. This ancient text contains spells and incantations for healing, as well as instructions for making magic potions and amulets. You can also learn about the evolution of magic in other cultures such as China, India, and Greece.

As magic evolved, so did the literature surrounding it. In the Middle Ages, grimoires were popular, containing instructions for summoning demons and casting spells. These books were often written in code, to keep their secrets safe from those who might misuse them.

Early Magic Texts

The Book of Abramelin: A New Translation - Revised and Expanded

The books that established the foundation of magic are still available today. These texts reveal early tricks and illusions, as well as the beliefs and values of the time. The Book of Abramelin, written in the 15th century, is a well-known example. It contains instructions for summoning angels and demons, as well as a system for achieving enlightenment.

The Picatrix, written in the 11th century, is another important text. It contains information on astrology, alchemy, and magic, and was influential in the development of Western esotericism.

The Golden Age of Magic Books

The Expert at the Card Table

Perhaps the richest literature on magic belongs to the Golden Age, from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. During this time, there were many advancements in the art of magic. Books during this time were often lushly illustrated with woodcuts, engravings, and full-color plates. Collecting these books has become a passion of many magic bibliophiles.

One of the most famous books from this era is The Expert at the Card Table by S.W. Erdnase. This book contains detailed instructions on card tricks and sleight of hand, and is still considered a classic today.

Modern Magic Literature

The Art of Astonishment Book 2

Today, magic literature continues to expand and flourish. The authors and publishers of magic books are continuously pushing the boundaries of the art form. They cover topics such as card magic, mentalism, illusions, and even business marketing and promotion.

Some modern classics include The Art of Astonishment by Paul Harris, which contains a variety of innovative magic tricks and routines, and Strong Magic by Darwin Ortiz, which focuses on the psychology of magic and how to create a truly memorable performance.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced magician, there is a wealth of literature out there to explore. By studying the history of magic literature, you can gain a deeper understanding of the art form and its evolution over time.

Essential Books for Beginner Magicians

If you’re just starting on your magical journey and need a place to begin, here are some essential reads that can help you build your foundation:

Mastering the Basics

Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic

A beginner’s guide to magic should cover the fundamentals of the art, such as sleights, misdirection and patter. Some books offer step-by-step instruction on these techniques and others go in-depth on individual techniques such as the Double Lift.

One of the best books for mastering the basics of magic is “Mark Wilson’s Complete Course in Magic“. This book is a comprehensive guide to magic and covers everything from card tricks to illusions. It’s perfect for beginners who want to learn the basics and start performing magic tricks right away.

Another great book for mastering the basics is “Royal Road to Card Magic” by Jean Hugard and Frederick Braue. This classic book is a must-read for anyone interested in card magic. It covers all the essential card sleights and tricks and is a great resource for beginners.

Developing Your Presentation Skills

One of the most important aspects of magic is its presentation. Having a good presentation will make or break a magician’s performance. Books can help you improve your oratory skills, build your confidence and teach you how to be entertaining.

The Art of Astonishment” by Paul Harris is an excellent book for developing your presentation skills. This book offers a fresh perspective on magic and teaches you how to create a sense of wonder and amazement in your audience. It’s perfect for magicians who want to take their performances to the next level.

“Maximum Entertainment” by Ken Weber is another great book for developing your presentation skills. This book offers practical advice on how to create a memorable performance and connect with your audience. It’s a must-read for any magician who wants to improve their stage presence.

Building a Strong Foundation

The Magic Book: The Complete Beginners Guide to Anytime, Anywhere Close-Up Magic

As a beginner, you want to build a solid foundation of knowledge about the art of magic. Some books provide an overview of the industry, profiles of famous magicians, and resources for props and props building.

The Magic Book” by Harry Lorayne is an excellent resource for building a strong foundation in magic. This book covers the history of magic, famous magicians, and the different types of magic. It’s a great way to learn about the art of magic and get inspired by some of the greatest magicians of all time.

“The Conjurer’s Guide to St. George’s Hall” by Charles Bertram is another great book for building a strong foundation in magic. This book provides a detailed history of St. George’s Hall, one of the most famous magic theaters in the world. It also includes profiles of famous magicians who performed at the theater and offers tips on props building and performance techniques.

By reading these essential books, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a skilled magician. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to put in the time and effort to master your craft. Good luck on your magical journey!

Advanced Magic Books for Experienced Magicians

Once you’ve got your basics covered, you can start diving into the more advanced techniques and concepts. Here are some books that will help you achieve mastery:

Sleight of Hand Techniques

Those seriously pursuing magic are always hungry for the next mind-boggling sleight or flourish. Advanced books typically focus on techniques such as card manipulation, coin magic and even stage magic.

One of the most famous books on sleight of hand techniques is The Expert at the Card Table by S.W. Erdnase. It is considered by many to be the bible of card magic and covers everything from basic card handling to advanced techniques like false shuffles and cuts.

Another great resource for sleight of hand techniques is Expert Coin Magic by David Roth. This book covers a wide range of coin magic techniques, from basic sleights to advanced routines.

Mentalism and Mind Reading

13 Steps to Mentalism 'Swami Gimmick'

Mentalism is a fascinating field that involves creating psychological illusions. It is based on concepts of psychology and the powers of the mind. Books on this subject matter often delve into the history of mentalism, different techniques, and resources to hone your skills.

If you’re interested in mentalism, one book you should definitely check out is 13 Steps to Mentalism by Tony Corinda. This book is considered a classic in the field and covers everything from cold reading to predictions and book tests.

Another great resource for mentalism is Practical Mental Magic by Theodore Annemann. This book covers a wide range of mentalism techniques, from simple mind reading tricks to more complex routines that involve multiple spectators.

Illusions and Stage Magic

Stage magic, also known as large-scale illusions, can be one of the most challenging yet rewarding forms of magic. It involves large props, set designs, and a script. As you progress in the art, you’ll want to study the workings of grand illusions and stage magic.

If you’re interested in stage magic, one book you should definitely check out is The Secret Art of Magic by Eric Evans. This book covers a wide range of stage magic techniques, from simple illusions to more complex routines that involve multiple assistants and large props.

Another great resource for stage magic is Illusionary Magic by Paul Osborne. This book covers a wide range of illusions, from classic box tricks to more modern illusions that involve lasers and other high-tech effects.

Remember, mastering magic takes time and dedication. But with the right resources and a lot of practice, you can become an expert in your chosen field of magic.

Biographies and Memoirs of Famous Magicians

Biographies allow us to learn from the successes (and failures) of those who came before us. Here are some great reads on famous magicians:

Houdini: The Life and Legacy

This biography of the famous Harry Houdini looks at his life in detail. Houdini was not only a masterful escape artist but also an innovator in the field of magic. Born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1874, Houdini began his career as a trapeze artist before turning to magic. He quickly became known for his daring escapes, including escaping from handcuffs, straitjackets, and even a milk can filled with water. The book takes readers through his childhood, training, career, and his later years when he became a passionate advocate for spiritualism debunking.

Despite his fame, Houdini was a complex figure, and this biography delves into his personal life, including his strained relationship with his parents and his marriage to Bess Houdini. The book also explores his legacy, including the many magicians who were inspired by his work.

The Amazing Randi: A Life of Magic and Skepticism

Project Alpha: Book 1 (Project Alpha series)

The Amazing Randi has been a fixture of magic for decades, but his influence extends beyond his performing abilities. This book explores his life journey, including his work in debunking psychic phenomena and his work in promoting skepticism in science. Born Randall James Hamilton Zwinge in Toronto, Canada, in 1928, Randi began his career as a magician before turning to skepticism. He became known for his “Project Alpha” hoax, in which he exposed the fraudulent claims of two young men who claimed to have psychic abilities.

The book also delves into Randi’s personal life, including his coming out as gay in the 1960s, and his advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights. Despite facing criticism and opposition throughout his career, Randi remained committed to his work, and this book is a testament to his legacy.

David Copperfield: A Magical Journey

David Copperfield is one of the most famous magicians of all time, and this memoir takes readers on a journey through his life and career. Born David Seth Kotkin in Metuchen, New Jersey, in 1956, Copperfield began performing magic at a young age. He quickly gained fame for his innovative illusions, including making the Statue of Liberty disappear and walking through the Great Wall of China.

The memoir explores Copperfield’s creative process, including his collaborations with designers and engineers to create his illusions. It also delves into his personal life, including his marriage to supermodel Claudia Schiffer and his philanthropic work, including his support for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Overall, this memoir is an illuminating account of a man’s lifelong aspiration to perform and his devotion to magic. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the art of illusion.


Whether you are a beginner or an experienced magician, there is always something new to learn from the vast literature on magic. By exploring the books mentioned above, you can expand your knowledge of the art, learn new techniques to practice, understand history, and learn about the lives of famous magicians. So, start reading today and unlock the secrets of magic!


Why should I take up magic?

Learning magic tricks is not only fun for everyone around you, but can also help strengthen your problem-solving skills. Especially for kids, learning magic can encourage children to think outside the box and nourish their social skills.

What are the best books on practicing magic?

The Amateur Magician’s Handbook by Henry Hayt, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Magic Tricks by Tom Ogden, and Magic for Dummies by David Pogue are all great places to start.

Is reading about magic the best way to learn?

Reading books about magic tricks is arguably the best way to get your head around how magic works.

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Eddison Monroe
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