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Ananda
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Jambudvipa
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Hi Guys,

I need to make some book decisions today in order to ensure access to certain texts and prices. However there are more interesting books than I have money and time to buy and read, and I can't pick these up and skim them to get an impression before buying, so I could use some help.

I've been reading various old threads on favorite books and have tried to categorize some of them. I'm trying to get a sense of which books are best written, organized, and illustrated in a way that the information leaps off the page (rather than requiring a Herculean effort to extract excellent information). I'd like to get a few of top books from each of the following categories.

1) Overall Magic (All kinds of tricks, illusions, effects)
2) Performance (beyond the mechanics of the trick: misdirection, drama, suspense, humor, etc.)
3) Mentalism
4) Bizarre Magic (storytelling oriented magic)

Below are some candidates (from 'favorites' lists). I'd appreciate any feedback on overall accessibility and general usefulness. I'd love to hear thoughts on which are best written / most accessible with the additional information of how you see the content focus / balance (rough percentage).

Example: For accessibility and clarity, I'd go with X, Y, and Z
Title X is strongest at clear trick instructions (80%) but also offers patter (20%)
Title Y is strongest at discussing how to be an effective entertainer (60%) but also contains detailed instructions for mentalism acts (40%)
Title Z has a preface about storytelling (10%) and the rest (90%) is excellent stories with allusions to common tricks, but the trick instructions are minimal

The current candidate list:

OVERALL MAGIC & PERFORMANCE
Greater Magic - Hilliard (Kaufman's version)
Collected Almanac - Kaufman
Strong Magic - Ortiz
The Amateur Magicians Handbook - Hay
Our Magic - Maskelyne & Devant
Art of Astonishment - Harris
Books of Wonder - Wonder
Maximum Entertainment - Weber
Mastering The Art Of Magic - Burger

MENTALISM
13 Steps to Mentalism - Corinda
Mind, Myth & Magick - Waters
Mentalism Incorporated I/II
Practical Mental Magic - Anneman
Absolute Magic - Brown
Pure Effect - Brown
SYZYGY - Lee Earle
Theatre of the Mind I/II - Richardson

BIZARRE / STORYTELLING
Magic and Meaning - Burger & Neale
Once upon a time - Punx
Sheherazade - Borodin
Final Curtain - Borodin
Capricornian Tales - Chelman
Pentalogy - Shane

Many thanks,
-Ananda.
"All phenomena are like a magically conjured illusion, like a mirage, like the moon reflected in water, like empty space, like an echo, like a dream, like a shadow, like an image in a mirror." - Nagarjuna
Gotama
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Ananda,

So much of your possible choices need to be directed to where you are now (in terms of ability, career, and so on) and your aims (what type of magic to perform, types of auidences, and so on). As a result it is difficult to give you a guide. A book that may prove beneficial to an experienced performer, for example, may be nearly meaningless for someone early on their parth. That being said, in the mentalism category, I would suggest Waters and Corinda to start understanding the basis and depth of mentalism. If you are somewhat experienced and want to perform for corporate audiences, then acquire both volumes of Mentalism Incorporated. For bizarre/storytelling, I like Borodin, Chelman, and Punx. Shane's work is also excellent.

The above are only a reflection of my tastes. I would really recommend that you tell us a little more about your experience and aims as that may help with better suggestions for books to acquire.

PM me if you have any questions,

Gotama
I asked the boy beneath the pines.
He said, "The master's gone alone herb picking,
somewhere on the mount,
cloud hidden,
whereabouts unknown."
(Chin Tao, 777-841, trans. by Alan Watts)
Ananda
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Jambudvipa
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Excellent points, Gotama!

I am largely new to the art, but would like to access greater depth than I've found in the intro texts I've encountered thus far. Ultimately, I'd like to find a few superb illusions (some physical, some mental) and learn how to present them effectively and professionally. I'm currently thinking about adapting these approaches to entertainment and edification of college students and adults around the fields of Eastern philosophy, Yoga, and Meditation.

Many thanks!
-Ananda.
"All phenomena are like a magically conjured illusion, like a mirage, like the moon reflected in water, like empty space, like an echo, like a dream, like a shadow, like an image in a mirror." - Nagarjuna
JimMaloney
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Here are my recommendations:

1) Overall Magic (All kinds of tricks, illusions, effects)
- The best bet here is Greater Magic, since it covers just about every aspect of magic, and contains the roots of many items that followed afterwards. It'll give you a solid foundation upon which to build. My second choice would be The Amateur Magician's Handbook, which is not quite as comprehensive, but still gives an excellent overview and may be somewhat more accessible (with the added advantage of being much cheaper).


2) Performance (beyond the mechanics of the trick: misdirection, drama, suspense, humor, etc.)
Our Magic is the classic in this area, and Strong Magic is the modern classic. Both are worthy of study. Mastering the Art of Magic is recommended, but I'd start with the other two.

3) Mentalism
Max Maven has recommended Practical Mental Effects as an excellent choice for getting started in mentalism -- it's hard to argue with someone as knowledgeable and experienced as him. Others have suggest that Corinda is a better beginners text. I think either one will serve you well. Both are considered to be the foundations of modern mentalism.

4) Bizarre Magic (storytelling oriented magic)
Eugene Burger and Punx have had a great influence in this field, so it's probably a good idea to check out their books. I don't have the other books you list in this area, but I think most would agree that these two are good choices for starting out.

-Jim
Books and Magazines for sale -- more than 200 items (Last updated January 17th, 2014. Link goes to public Google Doc.)
Mark Rough
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Ivy, Virginia
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My first suggestion: throw out your list and get a set of Tarbell's.

If that doesn't work for you:
1) Greater Magic
2) Mastering the Art of Magic (followed by Our Magic, Strong Magic never really did anything for me and, it seems to me, is very derivative of others).
3) Anneman or Corinda
4) Pentalogy (if your just heading down the bizarre path, Shane uses relatively simple methods with a lot of "normal" magic props, adding a great dash of theater and story telling. It's a great book. Of course, I own all of the ones you mentioned and love them all.)
What would Wavy do?
Gotama
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I wanted to add Tarbell, but I tried to stay with your list. Tarbell is a basic resource for all areas of magic.
I asked the boy beneath the pines.
He said, "The master's gone alone herb picking,
somewhere on the mount,
cloud hidden,
whereabouts unknown."
(Chin Tao, 777-841, trans. by Alan Watts)
Tom Jorgenson
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LOOSE ANGLES, CALIFORNIA
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You've got 15 years of books here...how soon did you think you'd plow thru these?

Pick any ONE and start. After you've mastered that, pick any other one. It doesn't matter which, just do one at a time. And slow.
We dance an invisible dance to music they cannot hear.
Ananda
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Jambudvipa
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Hi Guys,

Thanks for your suggestions and comments -- very helpful.

Gotama, Jim, LastNitesFun -- you've helped me to put these in perspective and helped me to make some choices.

Tom, I appreciate your perspective and would like to share mine. I find that I can't ultimately judge a book by its cover (or title, or recommendation). Since I can't go to my local book store or library to flip through these books to get a first hand impression, my strategy is to ask around a bit and then get a few recommended titles on each topic so that I'm more likely to find one book that has the style and content that I'm drawn to. I also find that many books are like encyclopedias: It may not suit my needs to read and master the entire book if I'm interested in accessing a few specific elements. Just another perspective...

Best,
-Ananda.
"All phenomena are like a magically conjured illusion, like a mirage, like the moon reflected in water, like empty space, like an echo, like a dream, like a shadow, like an image in a mirror." - Nagarjuna
Phil C
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Ontario, Canada
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For mentalism, first get 13 steps and Practical Mental Magic.
These will cost you maybe $30 - $40, and will make you busy for years and years.
If you have a little more money and want something new, move on to Mind, Myth and Magick Smile
RLFrame
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I don;t made to add to your list but Another good book that is priced right (Dover edition) is "Magic and Showmanship" by Henning Nelms. Like the other 'priced right but a tad dated' such as "13 Steps" and "Practical Mental Effects" it's value is high above the price.
Ananda
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Jambudvipa
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Thanks Phil and RL. Always good to have a mixture of the classics and the cutting edge!

Best,
-Ananda.
"All phenomena are like a magically conjured illusion, like a mirage, like the moon reflected in water, like empty space, like an echo, like a dream, like a shadow, like an image in a mirror." - Nagarjuna
travisb
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Vancouver, BC
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Tarbell offers a great variety of material (including excellent mentalism) throughout the books, and you'll learn all sorts of fundamental principles and techniques. If the amount of material seems overwhelming then The Amateur Magician's Handbook is a great place to start.

Of course, the best books are those that inspire you to actually learn the effects and perform them, and there's no way anybody--even you--can tell you which ones those will be...

-Travis
Ananda
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Jambudvipa
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Thanks, Travis. I can't know in advance -- you are right. But I hope I'll learn soon!

Best,
-Ananda.
"All phenomena are like a magically conjured illusion, like a mirage, like the moon reflected in water, like empty space, like an echo, like a dream, like a shadow, like an image in a mirror." - Nagarjuna
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