The most recommended magic books (illusion)

Who picked these books? Meet our 26 experts.

26 authors created a book list connected to magic, and here are their favorite magic books.
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Book cover of The Witches of Vegas

Dan Rice Author Of Dragons Walk Among Us

From my list on YA fantasy and sci-fi with diverse perspectives.

Who am I?

As an author of young adult fantasy and science fiction, I’ve read many books that fall within that rubric. This list captures the most exciting young adult novels I’ve read over the past few years. All have aspects of storytelling and themes I strive to capture in my writing. One thing I love about the young adult genre is the characters go on an adventure full of excitement and danger. The adventure is a metaphor for growing up. So if reads chock-full of death-defying odds, mystery, wonder, and a sprinkling of romance are your jam, the books in this list are for you.

Dan's book list on YA fantasy and sci-fi with diverse perspectives

Dan Rice Why did Dan love this book?

The Witches of Vegas is a bewitching read that is hard to put down. Mainly, the narrative is divided between two high school-aged teens, Isis and Zack. Isis is a young witch kept in relative social isolation for her safety and the safety of others. The magic system in this world stems from emotion, and a young witch unable to control their feelings might magically lash out by accident. Zack is an apprentice magician, practicing card tricks and sleight of hand under his Uncle Herb's tutelage.

The Witches of Vegas is an enjoyable and quick read with a unique premise. I found Rosendorf's insight into how street performers pull off their tricks of particular interest.

By Mark Rosendorf,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Witches of Vegas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Where can Witches and their vampire mentor practice their powers without being discovered or persecuted?

By using their magic, the Witches of Vegas become the number one act performing on the Las Vegas Strip—a great achievement for them, but not so much for the magicians—who can't possibly keep pace.

Isis Rivera is the adopted fifteen-year old daughter of The Witches of Vegas. Zack Galloway is the teenage nephew and assistant to the last magician left in the city. Although they should be rivals, when Valeria, a four-hundred-year-old witch with a long-seeded grudge against humanity arrives in Sin-City, both teens act…


Book cover of Now You See It, Now You Don't! Lessons in Sleight of Hand

Allan Zola Kronzek Author Of Grandpa Magic: 116 Easy Tricks, Amazing Brainteasers, and Simple Stunts to Wow the Grandkids

From my list on learning magic.

Who am I?

Magic hooked me at the age of eight and never let go. I began with a Mysto Magic Set, graduated to books and more books, joined magic societies, and studied with a true master, Tony Slydini, and finally began writing books about magic and magic lore (The Secrets of Alkazar, The Sorcerer’s Companion—A Guide to the Magical World of Harry Potter). What keeps my interest alive is the astonishing flow of invention that daily bubbles out of the magic community. And lucky me, I perform weekly at a fabulous little venue in the town where I live. This is a great time to learn and perform magic.

Allan's book list on learning magic

Allan Zola Kronzek Why did Allan love this book?

For anyone wishing to learn sleight of hand, this is the place to begin.

What makes the book so good are the more than 1500 illustrations combined with carefully written text. The book is loaded with more performance material than you’ll ever use, but so what?

The variety of magic taught is astonishing.  Bill—a noted sculptor as well as a magician—became a dear friend long after he had written this book. 

My wife and I once went to a magic convention with Bill and his wife Yvonne. The moment we walked into the main hall, he was surrounded by adoring fans who recognized him from his goatee and turtleneck and had grown up with his book by their bedside.    

By Bill Tarr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Now You See It, Now You Don't! Lessons in Sleight of Hand as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A new and simple learn-by-picture method that makes it easy for anyone aged twelve and up to perform all the classic sleights just as they are done by the world's greatest professional magicians. Long-time magician Bill Tarr has teamed up with Barry Ross, an illustrator famous for his instructional sports diagrams, for easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions, so that with the help of more than 1,500 line drawings that capture each eye-fooling movement, you'll learn everything from simple sleights you can master in minutes to the great classics of magic. With ordinary objects -- a regular deck of cards, a coin from…


Book cover of Spirit Slate Writing and Kindred Phenomena

Marc Hartzman Author Of Chasing Ghosts: A Tour of Our Fascination with Spirits and the Supernatural

From my list on ghosts written by people who might now be ghosts.

Who am I?

Though I’ve always found the idea of survival after death fascinating, it was my interest in Modern Spiritualism that really sparked the desire to write Chasing Ghosts. That era (mid-1800s to the early 1900s) was a time when millions confidently believed they could communicate with the dead. Of course, this was only the tip of the paranormal iceberg. So I continued the journey into the lore of haunted places, ancient cultural beliefs, and scientific endeavors to find evidence for paranormal experiences or to debunk it. As a historian of the weirder pages of the past, this topic endlessly fascinates me. I hope it will for you as well. 

Marc's book list on ghosts written by people who might now be ghosts

Marc Hartzman Why did Marc love this book?

William Ellsworth Robinson, who became better known as the magician Chung Ling Soo, devised tricks for Alexander Herrmann and other great magicians in the late 19th century. While he was developing stage magic, Spiritualists were performing what they branded as real magic—actually communicating with the dead in various ways. One of those ways was through a slate. Ask a question and with the slate positioned beneath a table, spirits would scribble a message in chalk. In this book, Robinson explains how these ghostly miracles and others could be achieved purely through the ingenuity of the living. The numerous illustrations make this book as wondrous to look through as is it to read.

By William E. Robinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spirit Slate Writing and Kindred Phenomena as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the late nineteenth century, mediums across the country were busy delivering messages from the dead to anyone who would listen. And there were plenty who would. Often these words from beyond appeared on slates during séances. But the brand of magic that mediums offered was nothing more than that-magic. Author William E. Robinson, an accomplished magician who worked as a stage manager and assistant to Alexander Herrmann and Harry Kellar, knew all the tricks of the trade. His book, Spirit Slate Writing and Kindred Phenomena, published in 1898, explained them all.
This new edition includes all the original illustrations,…


Book cover of Vanishing Act

Verlin Darrow Author Of Murder for Liar

From Verlin's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Psychotherapist Dog lover Humorist Golfer Spiritual teacher

Verlin's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Verlin Darrow Why did Verlin love this book?

Perry's female first-person narrator feels authentically womanly—albeit a Seneca kick-ass woman versus my ordinary amateur detective. He pulls this off effortlessly.

Perry is also a master of elongated suspense. You have to keep reading. You can’t stop. One surprising thing leads to another, and only Jane’s bag of tricks enables her to protect the woman she is trying to hide from nasty criminals. On the run with her charge for most of the book, the plot builds to a very satisfying conclusion.

By Thomas Perry,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Vanishing Act as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A challenging and satisfying thriller . . . [with] many surprising twists.”—The New York Times

Jane Whitefield is a Native American guide who leads people out of the wilderness—not the tree-filled variety but the kind created by enemies who want you dead. She is in the one-woman business of helping the desperate disappear. Thanks to her membership in the Wolf Clan of the Seneca tribe, she can fool any pursuer, cover any trail, and then provide her clients with new identities, complete with authentic paperwork. Jane knows all the tricks, ancient and modern; in fact, she has invented several of…


Book cover of Houdini on Magic

Allan Zola Kronzek Author Of Grandpa Magic: 116 Easy Tricks, Amazing Brainteasers, and Simple Stunts to Wow the Grandkids

From my list on learning magic.

Who am I?

Magic hooked me at the age of eight and never let go. I began with a Mysto Magic Set, graduated to books and more books, joined magic societies, and studied with a true master, Tony Slydini, and finally began writing books about magic and magic lore (The Secrets of Alkazar, The Sorcerer’s Companion—A Guide to the Magical World of Harry Potter). What keeps my interest alive is the astonishing flow of invention that daily bubbles out of the magic community. And lucky me, I perform weekly at a fabulous little venue in the town where I live. This is a great time to learn and perform magic.

Allan's book list on learning magic

Allan Zola Kronzek Why did Allan love this book?

This is the first book I responded to in a big way when I was fourteen.

It had everything: close-up tricks, illusion secrets, magic history, an exposé of phony mediums and spiritualists, how to escape from ropes and boxes, pick locks, read minds, and walk through a brick wall.

And most important, it also had a hero I could identify with – Houdini, master magician, escapologist, daredevil, pilot, author, historian, and champion of truth and justice. And he was Jewish, like me.

I found the book incredibly rich on many levels. It confirmed in me that I wanted to be a magician and that magic was wonderful.  

By Walter B. Gibson, Morris N. Young,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Houdini on Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This early work by Walter B. Gibson and Morris N. Young was originally published in the early 20th century and we are now republishing it. 'Houdini on Magic' contains a wealth of information on Houdini's approach to magic and the various tricks he performed in front of stunned crowds.


Book cover of Akithar's Greatest Trick

Sarah M. Awa Author Of Hunter's Moon

From Sarah's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Indie publisher Alleged vampire Neurodivergent Autoimmune warrior

Sarah's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Sarah M. Awa Why did Sarah love this book?

This book has a good chronic-illness rep and a well-written neurodivergent character! It’s an exciting heist/escape story that I saw advertised as being similar to another book I love (and it was!).

Aside from diverse characters and plenty of action and suspense, this book also has excellent world-building. I really want to read more about the world of Teshovar, where magic-users are hunted and their powers “silenced” by a mysterious evil ruler. There’s a nice twist at the end, too!

By Jason Dorough,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Akithar's Greatest Trick as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Demon, Scientist, Charlatan, or Sorcerer?

The Great Akithar is the most famous stage magician in a realm where real magic is outlawed. Over the past decade, Akithar and his troupe have built a reputation–and a home–in the dense coastal city of Klubridge. Every night, he thrills audiences with his controversial performances. Backstage, Akithar hides a secret more dangerous than any of his engineered illusions.

Far inland, an ancient and mysterious tyrant dispatches an elite band of mage hunters to crush magical insurrection. When their hunt brings them to Klubridge, they suspect that Akithar’s magic might be more than mere stage…


Book cover of Card College, Vol. 1: A Complete Course in Sleight-of-Hand Card Magic

Allan Zola Kronzek Author Of Grandpa Magic: 116 Easy Tricks, Amazing Brainteasers, and Simple Stunts to Wow the Grandkids

From my list on learning magic.

Who am I?

Magic hooked me at the age of eight and never let go. I began with a Mysto Magic Set, graduated to books and more books, joined magic societies, and studied with a true master, Tony Slydini, and finally began writing books about magic and magic lore (The Secrets of Alkazar, The Sorcerer’s Companion—A Guide to the Magical World of Harry Potter). What keeps my interest alive is the astonishing flow of invention that daily bubbles out of the magic community. And lucky me, I perform weekly at a fabulous little venue in the town where I live. This is a great time to learn and perform magic.

Allan's book list on learning magic

Allan Zola Kronzek Why did Allan love this book?

The first of five volumes, Card College Vol. 1, introduces the serious student to the essentials of artistic card magic utilizing sleight of hand. Much of the material requires diligent practice, often for years, but what a payoff when you master it! 

All the latest techniques of card magic are here, accompanied by clear illustrations, a superb selection of tricks, and insightful essays on the psychology and presentation of magic. 

Giobbi is an excellent teacher and I return to these books often. It will be a long while before anything replaces this series. 

By Roberto Giobbi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Card College, Vol. 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book by Roberto Giobbi


Book cover of You'll Die Laughing

Tom Mead Author Of The Murder Wheel: A Locked-Room Mystery

From my list on mystery with a hint of magic.

Who am I?

I’m a devourer of Golden Age Detective Fiction, and a writer of locked-room mysteries inspired by the classics. When it comes to old-school mystery writers, my favourites are John Dickson Carr, Ellery Queen, and of course Agatha Christie. What I love about that era is the brilliance of the puzzles, and the way those writers really engaged with the reader and (in some cases) addressed them directly, challenging them to solve the crime along with the detective. Additionally, I’m fascinated by stage illusions (though I’m terrible at performing them myself), and this has also had a major influence on my writing.

Tom's book list on mystery with a hint of magic

Tom Mead Why did Tom love this book?

This is a bizarre and obscure one-hit wonder that definitely needs to be rediscovered.

The style is crisp and witty, with nicely barbed dialogue. The puzzle is utterly bizarre – just the way I like them. And while the book itself doesn’t feature magical themes per se, it’s actually written by a magician.

I admire You’ll Die Laughing for its sheer originality; having read many murder mysteries, I can honestly say I’ve never read one that repeats the trick at the heart of this decidedly idiosyncratic novel. 

By Bruce Elliott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You'll Die Laughing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"I think I'll die ... ho ho ... laughing!" So exclaimed the practical-joking host of the elegant weekend party, after the siren that was attached to the flush lever on the commode went off. That set the mood for the rest of the weekend as the high-powered guests, including the mysterious analyst Dr. Guelph and a bunch of show-biz personalities, "enjoyed" the hospitality of the Grimsby brothers, Ben and the obnoxious Jesse. After choking down octopus and a dessert made of raw eggs, the party-goers were ready to murder Jesse, and each of them told him as much. Well, it…


Book cover of The Old Forest and Other Stories

John Milliken Thompson Author Of The Reservoir: A Novel

From my list on non-Faulkner books from the American South.

Who am I?

I grew up in North Carolina and Washington, D.C., and have since lived in Arkansas and Virginia. My two novels are historical, set in the late 1800s and early 1900s in Virginia and North Carolina, and are heavily influenced by the great Southern writers. My books feature family dramas, how the land interacts with characters, questions of fate and personal action, and the decisions that change people’s lives. I love Faulkner, but you’ll find him on every list. He influenced every writer who came later, but there are plenty of other heavy hitters to choose from. Here are a few favorites.

John's book list on non-Faulkner books from the American South

John Milliken Thompson Why did John love this book?

Taylor is one of the authors who made me want to be a writer. He’s a magician of the short story, compressing events and characters from the upper South into luminous stories that can seem more real than life. He wrote longhand in poetic lines, usually drafting about a hundred pages for every ten he kept. The result is a rich reduction of scenes that move us to laughter and tears. Taylor holds the mirror up to life, and you can’t help but be drawn in.

By Peter Taylor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Old Forest and Other Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the grand master of the American short story, these fourteen tales of domestic life in the South during the thirties and forties explore that extraordinary world of manners, expectations and unspoken understanding. The reader is drawn as if by magnetic force into a world rendered in breathtaking, painterly detail. These stories are marvelous entertainments, rich with amusement, yet Taylor renders his characters truly and understands them in a profoundly meaningful way.


Book cover of Lotus

Amy Q. Barker Author Of Lap Baby

From Amy's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Avid reader Nature lover Park ranger wanna be Best Nana ever

Amy's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Amy Q. Barker Why did Amy love this book?

This author is new to me, and the entire time I was devouring this book, I kept thinking, I love the way this woman writes!

I’m not going to lie; the subject matter in this story is heavy—there is childhood trauma on multiple fronts—but somehow, the way the story unfolds leaves you feeling happy and hopeful instead of the normal gut-wrenching dread you might find with another author.

These characters are unique and interesting, and their journeys are interwoven in a seamless and sensitive manner so that you can’t help but cheer them on until they get their happily-ever-after, which, of course, they do.  

By Jennifer Hartmann,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Lotus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

To the rest of the world, he was the little boy who went missing on the Fourth of July.
To me, he was everything.
My heart hasn't been the same since he disappeared, but I've learned to build my life around that missing piece.
Twenty-two years later, the last thing I expect is for that missing piece to come back.
His name is Oliver Lynch, and this is his story.
This is our story.