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You can't go wrong with either Magic for Dummies or Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic. In fact, buy those two books, and you'd not need any other for the next few years (though, if you're like me, you'll already be looking for something else long before you've perfected what's in front of you now, so you probably WOULD soon enough be looking for something else).

Both of these books are highly entertaining to read, and provide reams of valuable information. The reason why I suggest buying both, is because DUMMIES goes into much more detail on providing patter scripts for the tricks; and MARK WILSON goes into a little bit more precision on sleights, techniques, etc. So if you've got BOTH of these books, you've got all your bases covered.

Whatever you do, please don't get into Tarbell if you're a beginner. It seems to be common for people around here to suggest this as a beginners book. But, having now glanced through it, I can see that using this book as a foundation for learning magic, these days, is going to set you up for being the kind of magician that people will cross the street to avoid.

Also, though not as much of a serious danger as Tarbell, I wouldn't recommend "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Magic". Bad enough it fails to realize "The 21 Card" trick has become one of the most tedious tricks in history. But, what's worse, is that one of the really GREAT tricks in the book ("Nein") is explained incorrectly and you'll be be screwed up eventually if you follow the instructions as written therein.
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