Great books about magic that don’t include Harry Potter

Great Books About Magic—That Don’t Involve Harry Potter

We asked ‘The Magicians’ co-creator Sera Gamble, illusionist Criss Angel and novelist Aimee Bender about the books they find most spellbinding—and instructive

BEWITCHING HOURS A scene from the Syfy series “The Magicians,” based on Lev Grossman’s book of the same name. Sera Gamble, the series’ co-creator, recommends Mr. Grossman’s ‘Magicians’ trilogy for fans of Narnia and Harry Potter.PHOTO: SYFY/EVERETT COLLECTION

By Donna Bulseco

June 11, 2020 3:12 pm ET

Television writer/producer, known for her work on ‘You,’ ‘Supernatural’ and ‘The Magicians’

“There are so many categories of books about magic. Etgar Keret, Aimee Bender and Kelly Link give us modern, absurdist fairy-tales. For Narnia or Harry Potter fans, there’s ‘The Magicians Trilogy’ by Lev Grossman. And there are the how-to books/autobiographies: I just finished ‘Initiated: Memoir of a Witch’ by Amanda Yates Garcia, a story describing the pitfalls for young women who feel an innate pull toward an unconventional life. Magical stories are also about using your will to transform the world around you.”

Criss Angel

Magician, creator and star of Mindfreak at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas

“My favorites are hard-core magic ones with a historical perspective on methods used to create art illusions, like ‘Conjurers’ Optical Secrets’ by Sam H. Sharpe and the ‘Encyclopedia of Suspensions and Levitations’ by Bruce Armstrong. Looking at the past allows me to reinvent illusions for today’s technologically sophisticated audiences. Everyone thought the hologram was a new thing, but Jim Steinmeyer’s book ‘The Science Behind the Ghost’ shows it’s based off a Victorian theatrical effect called the Pepper’s Ghost.”

Aimee Bender

Author of the new novel ‘The Butterfly Lampshade’ (Doubleday, July 28)

“The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern, about dueling magicians and a magical traveling circus, is really fun to read. In Angela Carter’s ‘The Magic Toyshop,’ you get dark richness of language and eeriness in tone. Steven Millhauser’s short stories often address magic in the story line, playing it out to its human, yet logical conclusion. Like ‘Miracle Polish’ about a traveling salesman who sells a cream that transforms mirrors, so you look like your greatest self in them.”

—Edited from interviews by Donna Bulseco

MORE IN READING & RETREATING

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.