If you've seen my library, it should come as no surprise that I like books on card magic. Theory, sleights, routines - I can't get enough!
I've also picked up a few magic books that aren't specific to cards, like the Tarbell Series and Modern Coin Magic. While no, I don't really see myself dabbling in other forms of magic, I have learned the power of impression and learning how sleight of hand can be performed with other objects has come to, in my opinion, really improve my understanding of card magic.
So not to ramble on too much, I wanted to do a thought-exercise and try to list out my current list of favorite books about sleight of hand. I do want to note that this is all purely my opinion and not a "recommended list", but hey, I do recommend them!
I consider this book's content to be between intermediate to advanced skill level, and the presentation format is great too... but, the main reason I love this book is because of Mr. Ong's methods of taking a plot, idea, or even another object from some other source and turning it into a killer new routine. If you follow his content on Instagram, you'll see that he constantly comes up with new routines (right now, he's been on a crazy packet-trick train) and Principia really helped open my eyes to thinking more outside of the box.
- Card College, Vol. 3
I love the entire Card College series, don't get me wrong - but Volume 3's content just blew me away. With Volume 1 and 2, I got a refresher of things I mostly already knew. Volume 3 though, it introduced me to more advanced sleights; some of which I had heard of or saw reference to before, but now I finally get to experience them with my own hands! Some of the routines presented throughout the book are pretty great too. I don't know if I own another book that has this many bookmarked pages!
- The Complete Walton, Vol. 1
Roy Walton's "The Complete Walton" was actually where I learned who Roy Walton was. I can't recall seeing his name in other books or magazines, or in videos prior to flipping through this book. The way the book is written just flows so well, but the routines themselves are amazing. For example, I'm not a huge Oil & Water fan (or most packet tricks, for that matter). But Oil & Queens, jeez. I stopped reading the book just to practice for almost a week and then went back to re-read it to see if I followed it correctly (note: I did!).
- The Card Classics of Ken Krenzel
When I got back into card magic after a good 20+ year hiatus, this is one of the first books I picked up. I wanted something more advanced than Royal Road and wow did I get advanced. I haven't read back through it yet (it's been ~3 years or so) so I don't know if the content is actually "advanced" or just intermediate, but my biggest memory of it so far is that I couldn't perform hardly any of the routines in this book as they all required moves that I just couldn't do -- like a Faro Shuffle. I laughed, when reading the book, thinking that a Faro Shuffle is so not worth my time and I'll just skip over anything that needs them. lol... now, I Faro as a fidget move... go figure.
- Verbal Magic
When I first started reading Verbal Magic, as in, the introduction and whatnot, I was astounded by how the book itself was created. Painstakingly finding old radio recordings, reverse engineering the mechanics and distilling them into teachable routines, and then translating them from Spanish to English to boot! After reading the first routine, I realized that this book needed to be consumed with a different frame of mind though - yes, it's about "sleight of hand" but in a very, very different way. You're having the spectator perform the sleight, without knowing it. Self-working card tricks, and you (the magician) don't even need to see the cards. I read through the book before the pandemic hit and when everyone went "virtual", I decided to bring it back out to do a routine or two with friends from work -- it's amazingly powerful!
And there we have it, my current "top 5" favorite magic books. This doesn't mean I don't like other books, oh no - I love a lot of them. But these are my go-to tomes right now, coming back out off of the shelf to get some re-reading love!