Five Great Magic Books To Read……

professional_touchInspired by our recent South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival here in Austin I am beginning my own ‘5X5’ series of blog posts. I am going to create a five-week run of columns by detailing a list of five classic and totally personal favorite books that are required reading in my opinion. I am starting my lists with books because I still (maybe, I’m old fashioned!) think that studying from a book adds that little something extra to the learning experience.

I will have to begin with a Billy McComb book and although ‘McCombs Magic: 25 Years Wiser’ is the one I always refer to as the ‘bible of comedy magic,’ I am going to go with his 1987 book ‘The Professional Touch.’ This book was adapted from the wonderful audiotapes that my dear friend Martin Breese recorded as part of his Magicassette series. ‘The Professional Touch’ contains a treasure house of stories, tips and advice that are indispensable reading for any magician. It is a delightful little tomb that even includes a bonus in the form of McComb’s ‘Nap Hand Routine.’ I have serious doubts as to how many people are still familiar with the game of Nap in the era of Candy Crush, but a bonus is a bonus!

Of course, I would be remiss in not pointing out what a great little book Billy’s ‘The First Book of William’ is. However, I don’t think it is available at this point in time. On a historic level, it does establish Billy as the creator of the ‘Hot Book’ effect. This led directly to the ‘Hot Wallet’ without which most performers would have empty hands in their working photos!

The second book I want to recommend is by Roy Johnson, the ultimate master of smooth commercial routines. Much as I love his first book ‘The 656_Tales_from_the_Uncanny_Scot_Wilson_RonRoy Johnson Experience’ I am going to skip to his next book the 1971 release ‘Second Time Around.’ Why? Well it is a tough call but the gem in his first book ‘The Chewing Gum Trick’ is now made somewhat invalid due to the change in packaging in chewing gum! His second book contains his ‘Ultimate Key Routine’, which is truly a classic and well worth the price of the book.

My third choice is the 2010 book by Ron Wilson ‘Tales from The Uncanny Scot.’ Of course I could have picked Ron’s classic ‘The Uncanny Scot’ published by Richard Kaufman, I have frequently gone on record as saying it is one of the few books that contains an entire career for an astute reader. However, ‘Tales…’ is a glorious history of magic’s golden Californian era by someone who was there and knew all the players. Plus there are only a handful of copies left and if you buy it now it might well be worth as much as his first book in a few years.

I couldn’t decide which Harry Lorayne book to put on my list because they are ALL so darn good. I decided to skip the mental agony of decision and go with a Paul Harris book instead. There are also many fabulous options in the Harris canon but my eventual choice is Paul’s 1979 book ‘Close-Up Entertainer.’ Why? There are just so many damn fine tricks in it. If you don’t end up with some new gems in your repertoire after reading this book then trade in your deck of cards for a mandolin or take up ventriloquism!

harrispaulcloseupentertainerTo round out my list of five books I realized I needed to have a book of Al Koran tricks. I could have been traditional and run with ‘Professional Presentations’ and why not—it is a truly wonderful book. However, in case you haven’t discovered it yet, I am going to run with Martin Breese’s 2011 book ‘Al Koran The Unique Years.’ It is a fine collection of Koran’s routines from various sources that kinda’ fell through the cracks until Martin did such a magnificent job of rethinking the entire Koran legacy. There are lots of little gems hiding in full sight in this book.

Wait a minute! Where are my books from Alan Shaxon, Daryl, David Regal, Bruce Cervon, Max Maven, Bob Cassidy, Neal Scryer, Richard Webster………. Well I guess this is why I restricted the list to 5 books. I decided to restrict the numbers and go for the slightly less obvious books.  Incidentally, modesty prevented me from mentioning that I have a very limited number of signed copies of ‘Sleight of Crime,’ my long out of print 1978 magical murder mystery collection available for $40 via our website or at www.nicklewin@aol.com  Just mentioning it!

~ by Nick Lewin on March 21, 2014.

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