The theme for this paranormal book club is Illusion! Each month there will be a new theme. I will recommend my favourite books that I have read related to this theme with all of the information. I then encourage you to offer your own recommendations within the theme or even your thoughts on the topic itself. If you feel so inclined, there are even links on Amazon for you to purchase a copy (if you wish).
So with that being said, I would like to recommend my favourite books that talk about ILLUSION.
Harry Houdini and his exposure of the fraud spiritualist, spirit photography, spirit slate writing, ectoplasm, clairvoyance, and other quakery and cons perpetrated on the gullible, by the likes of the Boston Medium Margery, the Davenport Brothers, Annie Eva Fay, the Fox Sisters, Daniel Dunglas Home, Eusapia Pallandino, and other con artists of their ilk.
The whole country got excited by Houdini's campaign against faking spiritualists. He careened through the country, offering money for spirit contacts he couldn't duplicate by admitted magical chicanery. It was a heyday not only for Houdini but for the spirit-callers and there was an equally famous protagonist who thought the spirits could indeed be contacted, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A photo at the front records a meeting between Houdini and Doyle and Houdini gives Doyle his own chapter. There's an earlier chapter on Daniel Dunglas Home, the English engineer of spectacular paranormal effects. Houdini raises hell with spiritualists who were giving their (usually paying) clients a vision of heavens to come, and shares the methods used to practice "fake" and sensational spiritualism.
Houdini was nothing if not unrelenting. As a taste of things to come, he ends his introduction with the words: "Up to the present time everything that I have investigated has been the result of deluded brains."
It is probably of no surprise to you that this is one of the first books I am recommending for book club. I have been quite vocal about my love of Houdini and his work with the spiritualists. This book is a fantastic account written by Houdini himself about the different ways that spiritualist mediums would devise devices and use sleight of hand to trick their clients into thinking they were receiving a genuine paranormal experience. It contains, letters, pictures, diagrams, and his real-life dealings and thoughts on individual cases including famous ones such as the Fox sisters and Davenport Brothers. It is a real insight into the deception that still sadly occurs today.
This can be a very expensive book to source, but one I feel is well worth it. If you are strapped for cash though, I have you covered. There is a public domain version of the book available for FREE online at this link https://archive.org/details/1924HoudiniAMagicianAmongTheSpirits
At the recommendation from a friend, as a Christmas present to myself, I purchased this book. I was instantly in love. Not only is it an informative book, but it is just beautiful to look at. In 2019, a Smoke and Mirrors exhibition was showcased in London and this book was launched to accompany this exhibition. It even contains photos of the items in the exhibit which is a big bonus for those of us in other countries who were unable to attend. Much like Houdini, the author was a Magician who uses his knowledge of illusion to demonstrate the many ways we can be deceived. In a lot of ways, to me, this is the modern-day Magician among spirits. This book however is much more educational for the modern-day paranormal investigator. With sections dedicated to parapsychology and famous psychical researchers, it adds another layer of information missing from Houdini's book. In fairness though, Houdini had passed away long before these events occurred.
The book is a hardcover with coloured illustrations so it feels a bit more special than your average book. Surprisingly, you don't have to pay an arm and a leg to purchase it either! Whether you are a person who just loves history through to paranormal investigators, everyone will have something to gain and learn from the book.
Professor Richard Wiseman is clear about one thing: paranormal phenomena don't exist. But in the same way that the science of space travel transforms our everyday lives, so research into telepathy, fortune-telling and out-of-body experiences produces remarkable insights into our brains, behaviour and beliefs. Paranormality embarks on a wild ghost chase into this new science of the supernatural and is packed with activities that allow you to experience the impossible. So throw away your crystals, ditch your lucky charms and cancel your subscription to Reincarnation Weekly. It is time to discover the real secrets of the paranormal. Learn how to control your dreams -- and leave your body behind Convince complete strangers that you know all about them Unleash the power of your unconscious mind
Heading away from the theme of intentional illusion, while people can trick and deceive us, so can our brain. This was one of the very first paranormal related books I purchased (unbelievably from a cheap book table in the middle of a shopping center). Admittedly I bought it because it had the word paranormal in it. It struck a chord with me and completely flipped my style of paranormal investigating on its head and had me questioning a lot of things. It has had a profound influence on my work and a lot of the Stuff Paranormal Investigators Need To Know series. In fact, you will notice I reference this book quite a few times throughout my own book. It looks at the psychology of our brain to show us how easily our brain can deceive us. Wiseman uses examples of mass experiments he has conducted as well as including do-it-yourself tests (such as magic eye tests) to show you how easily your brain can trick you. Even though it is written by a professor, it is written in fairly understandable terms and is not as hard to digest as a lot of other science related papers.
If I had to make a choice out of the above 3 books, for educational purposes as much as I love Houdini, I would choose paranormality as it really is essential reading for paranormal investigators.
If you have been following this blog, you will notice the influence that Houdini and Wiseman's Paranormality have had on me and my own writing. It is no coincidence that my own book is named after a Houdini quote: What the eyes see and the ears hear the mind believes. The content is influenced by a lot of the content mentioned in Paranormality and directly referenced several times. I feel like I almost combined elements from both of these books to create my own reference guide relevant to illusion. The aim of paranormal book club is not self-promotion, but I wanted to show you just how important these books are to myself and my own research. To be fair I would understand if you thought I was a complete skeptic based on this list and that is simply not true. You can still believe in paranormal phenomena which I do, and get valuable information from these books.
So there you have 3 great recommendations (and even a link to read a free book) to start off the year! So now I want to hear from you. What books do you recommend in this category? Have you read any of these? What are your thoughts?
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