The Magic Bookcase

Our guest contributor this month is Byron Grey. Byron is known for combining skilled sleight-of-hand with scintillating storytelling, creating magical experiences for audiences of all ages. With over 30 years as an entertainer, he has performed at many prestigious venues, including the Wynn, Venetian, Bellagio, and Paris Hotels in Vegas, at Bechstein Hall, Merkin Hall, and the esteemed Carnegie Hall in NYC. 

Hello! Wyoming magician Byron Grey here, and I’m thrilled to be writing my first Museletter. I have been attending McBride’s Magic & Mystery School since 2001. In 2006, life took me on a weird detour, but I came back to the fold in 2017. Since that detour, certain passions have come and gone, but my passion for books (especially magic books) will not leave me!
During the pandemic, Jeff McBride and I started working on a new show that took this passion to a whole new level: “The Magic Bookcase.” The title was taken from a book published in 1964 by Magic Inc. written by The Jarrows. Along the same lines of that published act, every book within the bookcase contains some sort of magical effect or story. “The Magic Bookcase” debuted here in Wyoming during the summer of 2021 to great acclaim, and a new pared down version is being introduced this summer for library appearances.

My real magic bookcase at home contains some of those wonderful books that I would always check out from the local library. Books by Ian Adair, Walter Gibson, and yes, my library had Henning Nelms’s Magic and Showmanship. How truly fortunate I was! So much information – and the smell! Oh yes, I’m one of those “weirdos” who smells books. Just remember, it’s the pages, not the glue!  
On the top shelf of the bookcase is a section of my favorite books that informs my magic, my storytelling, and who I strive to be as a person. I would like to share just five of those great titles with you. 

The Experience of Magic by Eugene Burger
Why is this book out of print !? Woeful, I say! This was the first book I ever owned written by Eugene. There are so many great essays that I keep coming back to over and over again. My favorite essay is “Unfinished Pictures.” In fact, I have a photocopy of it framed on my workshop wall! A gentle reminder (and sometimes a rude awakening) that I need to complete the pieces that I already perform.
Gunn’s Golden Rules by Tim Gunn
Yes Virginia, it’s not just magic books on the top shelf! Straight to the point, and yet warm and charming, Tim takes you through his 18 principles of how to make life easier, even among the hardships that may come your way. If you love Tim Gunn, but never knew about this book, get it!
Improving Your Storytelling: Beyond the Basics for All Who Tell Stories in Work and Play by Doug Lipman
This book introduced me to a piece that I have told, with audience participation, for over 20 years. As the subtitle suggests, this book will give you ideas on what to do if you miss an important part of a story, the best way to structure a new story, how an audience takes in a story, and so much more. Highly recommended.
Magic and Showmanship by Henning Nelms

I was too young to appreciate the genius of this book when I started checking it out from the library. Just like The Miracle Factory’s Art and Magic by Sam Sharpe (also on the top shelf), you can turn to any page and find a nugget of wisdom – or five! Bottom line: Byron Grey wouldn’t be “Byron Grey” without this book!
The Preston Market Mystery Project by John Newling 
Warning – this is a wild card and I shouldn’t have even told you about this book. It’s a collection of mysteries and a fun, fascinating read. That’s all I’m going to say, except that this book informs you why I love performing magic, and it reminds me to always leave a chair at the table for Mystery.

There are many other books on that top shelf, including books penned by faculty of the Magic & Mystery School. There are several other books in my “man bunker” (1950s Wyoming house). Even if you could only budget for one of these five books I mentioned, I fervently believe that book will help you with your magic and as a person, by leaps and bounds!

Ciao for now!

Byron Grey
@wyomingmagician on all major social media

Comments are closed.