I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about Our Everyday Deceptions by Stephen L. Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde. I just finished it recently, and as a hobbyist magician and someone equally interested in psychology and neuroscience, it was an incredibly engaging read. I saw the book on display at the Skirball Museum store after seeing the Harry Houdini exhibit there (which was a really cool anniversary surprise I got!).
What I most enjoyed about the book was the tone of the authors in portraying human experience as a cognitive illusion created by our brain to promote our survival. Magicians are the cowboys that hack into our brain and mess with that illusion. How awesome is that?
I recently saw The Matrix again for the first time after about 4 years of not seeing it (I had seen it about 3 times before that), and this book had an eerie resemblance in its main lessons about the brain and the simulation of reality that it creates for our experience. The connection to magic was amazingly delicious icing on top of that cake.
I also enjoyed some of the philosophical discussions, which reminded me of an event I went to a while ago at the Center for Inquiry on magic, science, and skepticism.
Below are my main notes on the book. I'm leaving out a lot of detail with respect to effect secrets for obvious reasons. ;) Even so, this is one of my longest blog posts due to the number of interesting things I learned (and how much I enjoyed the book).
Ch. 7: The Indian rope trick (memory illusions)