20 years ago I picked up Elliot's "Classic Secrets of Magic" for $1.50 at a used book store in Toronto.
Best $1.50 I ever spent in my life.
(followed closely by the 3.50 I spent on a used copy of Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death". Postman's book isn't a magic book, but pick it up, you'll be glad you did. )
I return to Elliot again and again. Ditto certain other books: The various Vernon books, "Stars of Magic", Ganson's "The Magic of Faucett Ross" , anything by Jim Steinmeyer, etc. If I had to come up with a LIST it probably wouldn't exceed 25 essential books.
Jon Racherbaumer has warned the magic community about the over-saturation of "trendy" magic books and especially videos, that is creating a lot of so-called information (a.k.a. noise) , but very little real teaching .
Wouldn't it be great if every new magician who joined S.A.M. or I.B.M. was given over to a mentor who would guide the neophyte through the process of mastering the magic in a select few books, such as Elliot's "Classic Secrets of Magic" ?