Summer Reading

From Larry Hass
Associate Dean, the Magic & Mystery School

In my recent Museletter titled “What is Education?” I promised to be back soon with some suggested summer reading. But first, I want to remind everyone about the Magic and Meaning Conference in Las Vegas, October 20-23, 2010.

Since my move to north Texas, many people have written me to ask when I will be holding another one of my Theory and Art of Magic Conferences. The fact is that I am already holding one because the Magic and Meaning Conference we create every year through the Magic & Mystery School is its equivalent.

For those of you who have not attended the Magic and Meaning Conference, let me tell you that its mission is to create a genuine learning community about magic. The conference includes first-rate magic performances and works-in-progress opportunities, but the heart of the event is three days of presentations on magic from conference attendees and special keynote speakers.

So this is your opportunity: if you would like to submit a proposal for a 20-minute presentation at this year’s conference, please click here to see the details (the deadline is August 1). Whether you submit a proposal or not, I encourage you to think seriously about joining us for the conference in late October. Come see why so many people return to this event year after year. (To register, visit

As I said above, I promised to suggest some good books for summer reading. I have already taken one shot at that exercise in one of my MAGIC columns (August 2008, p. 19), so what I want to do here is provide the names of some of my favorite books to re-read.

Let’s think about this for a moment. Popular culture moves at a breakneck speed. The news cycle is now instantaneous. Countless new magic products arrive every month. We try to keep up, but it is impossible to keep up. So we bounce from this to that, to some “new this” to the next “new that.”

I know this is just the pace of modern life, but I also know something else: that rarely does “pursuit of the new” bring the best and deepest experience of something. On the contrary, my very best experiences of a good film, piece of art, or novel come when I view or read it again. For it is only then, when I already have a baseline of understanding, that I am able to really appreciate the work’s deeper levels of significance or achievement.

So here is a partial list of some favorite magic books I didn’t mention in my previous column — books that I find myself being enriched by again and again. If you haven’t read them yet, then you have a real treat in store for you. If you already have read them, then I invite you to pick one of them up again on some lazy summer day so you can get reconnected with something good and deep. In no particular order:

1. Jim Steinmeyer, Conjuring. This book is a dazzling array of great material from one of the most creative people in magic.

2. Harry Lorayne, Close-Up Card Magic. The material remains fresh and stimulating thirty-five years after publication; the revised edition in The Classic Collection includes better credits and many fine touches and improvements.

3. Max Maven, The Lisp Series (Thequal, Doth, Amperthand, Fifth, Thavant, Thabbatical). The Color Books are more famous, but a lot of material in these books is every bit as good, and they are a blast to read.

4. Lewis Ganson, The Dai Vernon Book of Magic. This classic work remains an exemplary lesson in how to construct deeply magical routines with invisible sleight-of-hand. I re-read “The Vernon Touch” chapter on a regular basis.

5. Theodore Annemann, The Jinx 1-50, 51-100, 101-151 (three volumes). Read one issue a day for a month and notice at the end how many great new ideas you have.

6. Eugene Burger and Jeff McBride, Mystery School. I realize that including this may seem nepotistic, but the truth is I have read certain sections of this book at least seven times. There is a lot going on in here of extraordinary value and intelligence.

So happy re-reading this summer! And be sure to let me know your favorite books to re-read. I look forward to being with you at one of our Master Classes or at the Magic and Meaning Conference in October.

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