5 Best Magic Books for Beginner Magicians

One of the best ways that magicians learn magic is from books. Magic books are a great purchase not only because they offer fantastic value for money, but also because they teach magic in a way that other methods can't match. A book forces you to think about your learning. In a sense it's more difficult than hiring a private magic teacher, but that can be a good thing as it's only by pushing through the difficult do we really learn.

The great news is that the books I've chosen to highlight below are books for beginners. These books offer structure, important advice for new magicians, and incredible magic tricks.

Just want the top five? Here you go, but feel free to click each one for a short review.

  1. Now You See It, Now You Don't, Lessons in Sleight of Hand - Bill Tarr
  2. Self Working [      ] Magic - Karl Fulves
  3. How to Master Magic - Nick Einhorn
  4. Magic and Showmanship - Henning Nelms
  5. The Amateur Magicians Handbook - Henry Hay

Now You See It, Now You Don't, Lessons in Sleight of Hand - Bill Tarr

This is always the first book I recommend to new students of magic. It's like a course in magic, that takes you step by step through a variety of magic genres.

The reason this is great is because while you may think that you will prefer card magic, or coin magic, you won't really know until you've tried everything.

I believe the first part of learning magic should be just playing. This book starts with close up magic with cards and coins and balls, but then moves on to stage magic techniques with handkerchiefs, and card manipulations. The other great thing about this book is that it has clear drawings that detail each step of the process.

  • variety of magic so you're not tied down to one genre
  • course like structure allows you to progress from the easy moves to the hard routines
  • clear step by step images
  • well written instructions
bill tarr now you see it now you dont


If you like this type of book, then two other books by the same author are

  • Now You See It, Now You Don't, Lessons in Sleight of Hand Two - Bill Tarr (an original title, I know)
  • 101 Easy to do Magic Tricks - Bill Tarr

And finally in this section, there is one more book by this author,

  • The Now you See It, Now You Don't Notebook - Bill Tarr

however, this one isn't recommended. In fact, it received a pretty scathing review from Jamy Ian Swiss.

bill tarr magic books

Self Working [     ] Magic - Karl Fulves

What seems like a strange title, is actually a series of books. In contrast to the above book, these books allow you to dive deeper into a subject you want to find out more about, and at a very affordable cost. Each volume will set you back only £5 - £8 / $6 - $10. These books include more text than images, with only a few line drawings here and there, and they are packed with tricks. These are books of tricks and ideas, rather than a book that teaches you how to do magic. In each book, there may be up to 100 tricks. Of course, with that many tricks some appear to be filler. The table magic book, the number magic book and the paper magic book, all have sections on puzzles, which can be fun but are hardly magic. However, that said each book offers a good introduction to it's specific genre, and some excellent magic. I still perform some of the routines in these books in my professional shows.

  • a overview of separate magic genres so you can choose whichever you are most interested in
  • very affordable books
  • loads of tricks in each book and great quality magic


  • Self Working Close up Card Magic - Karl Fulves
  • Self Working Card Tricks - Karl Fulves
  • More Self Working Card Tricks - Karl Fulves
  • Self Working Mental Magic - Karl Fulves
  • Self Working Table Magic - Karl Fulves
  • Self Working Coin Magic - Karl Fulves
  • Self Working Rope Magic - Karl Fulves
  • Self Working Handkerchief Magic - Karl Fulves
    Self Working Paper Magic - Karl Fulves
recommended magic books

How to Master Magic - Nick Einhorn

This is a reprint of two books, which I own separately. There are over 300 "projects" which is the word they use to describe the mix of magic tricks, optical illusions, puzzles and stunts that fill this book.

I think this book is perhaps a little better suited to a younger person who is starting out in magic. It offers a wide range of magic from close up magic with cards and money to stage magic with ropes. It even has large scale illusions you can build yourself out of cardboard boxes.

It includes step by step photos, some of which are a bit cheesy, but the skill level is a bit lower than the sleight of hand book I mention above. Everything here is very easy, so it might not suit someone who wants to progress, or you might need some of the other books mentioned in this article.

  • clear step by step full colour photographs
  • includes magic tricks, optical illusions, stunts and practical jokes
nick einhorn magic books
how to master magic nick einhorn

Showmanship for Magicians - Henning Nelms

It's no good to only know how to physically do the magic moves, you also need to know how to perform the magic. Magic is after all a performance art. That's where this book comes in.

This is a great book to learn about how to find presentations that appeal to the public, how to script your magic and how to present it in front of an audience. In short, how to make sure your magic has the most impact it can.

There is a slight bias within this book towards magic on stage, but the lessons apply across all genres of magic, so don't skip it if you think close up magic is your thing.

Finally, I would say that as this aspect of magic requires some higher level thinking, I think this book is more suited to an adult beginner. A child would find this book rather difficult.

  • doesn't teach tricks, teaches how to present and perform magic
  • asks probing questions that help you to improve your magic
magic and showmanship
magic and showmanship book

I mention one of the principles taught in this book in my blog post: 25 Tips for New Magicians

The Amateur Magician's Handbook - Henry Hay

This is a fantastic book, and if you want to take magic seriously, you will want to pick up this book. Top professional magicians such as David Williamson recommend this book as one that they started out with and still go back to.

Like some of the others on this list, this book covers a wide range of magic genres. It includes magic with playing cards, coin magic, mental magic, classic stage magic routines such as the linking rings, and performing magic for children.

However, where this book really shines is with the practical advice that it gives you on how to present and perform magic. If you can read between the lines, and you will have to read as this is a 400 page book of mostly fine print text, then you will get an incredible amount of value from this book.

  • dense text with a lot of incredibly valuable information
  • covers almost the whole range of magic
  • many top magicians had this as their first magic book


The bad news: This book is out of print.
The good news: It's fairly easy to pick up from the second hand market - ebay / facebook for about £20 - £30 / $25 - $37

amateur magicians handbook
henry hay magic book

Have you found this article useful?

If so then you might also want to check out my page for magician's only. Don't worry, it's for all levels of magicians with products for professionals and free downloads for beginner magicians.

I also offer one on one personal magic coaching which is a great way to get a boost with your magic progress.

You might also want to see some of my other blog posts written for magicians.



It's easy to get in touch with me, either:


During a short phone or video call, we'll talk about your event and your initial ideas. Don't worry, if you're not sure. I've helped to plan many events so I can advise on the best use of magic and other events entertainment.


Once all the details are agreed, I'll send you a booking confirmation and ask you to make the first payment which confirms your date in my calendar. Then it's time to start looking forward to your big event.


I'll check in with you in the week before your event, and on the day of the event. All you need to do now is enjoy the magic, mind reading and conversational comedy.

1 Comment

  1. […] The secret to all of magic is in books. Video can be useful for some very specific situations, but generally the way to learn magic is to teach yourself from a book, or to find someone who can teach you in person. It's the same with any other art form. Show me any performing art that is taught primarily by video?! So forget YouTube and instead pick up a general magic book with good quality diagrams. Here's a blog post with five recommended books for beginner magicians. […]