I read an interesting post today on rune soup about the book game: You pick ten books that you'd have a person read in order to create a specific "type" of magician. So, because I'm in the process of going through all my books, I thought I may as well do the same myself, only in my case, it would be to create an experimental magician. My list doesn't include any references to the sacred cows of occultism, because as I found myself, years ago, it was going off the beaten track in reading as well as practice that really allowed me to challenge the usual concepts of magic.
Book 1 Magical Ritual Methods by William G. Gray
In terms of thoroughness and ability to describe magical processes, William Gray is one of my favorite authors to read, and best of all the doesn't just stick with describing tried and true ideas, but offers his own ideas on subjects ranging from space/time magic to the role of symbolism in magic to elemental work. This book grounds the reader thoroughly in magical processes while also challenging the reader to think outside the box.
Book 2: Initiation into Hermetics by Franz Bardon
Initiation into Hermetics is another favorite book of mine, because the author challenges the reader to practice magic. To truly comprehend the book, you actually need to practice the techniques. At the same time the techniques are open enough to be experimented with, which makes them most efficacious.
Book 3: Relax into Being: Breathing, Chi, and Dissolving the Ego by B. K. Frantzis
The experimental magician needs to balance external work with internal awareness. The practices in this book focus the magician on cultivating more self-awareness, while also breaking down unconscious triggers and blockages.
Book 4: The Job: Interviews with William S. Burroughs by Daniel Odier
This book teaches the experimental magician the essentials of Burroughs techniques, and also shows them the value of unconventional approaches and thinking about magic.
Book 5: Watchmen by Alan Moore and David Gibbons
I've gotten a lot of ideas out of this graphic novel that pertain to magic. Moore and Gibbons pulled off some very interesting ideas and presented some useful information that can be applied to magic, provided you are willing to use the concepts in that way.
Book 6: Multi-Media Magic by Taylor Ellwood
Yes, I've included one of my own books and why not? in this one you get exposure to pop culture magic, but also some space/time concepts and even the proto theory I'd developed around identity and magic. It's a useful introduction to my previous works and definitely fits the spirit of the experimental magician.
Book 7: The Magician's Reflection by Bill Whitcomb
This is an excellent reference and resource guide for anyone who wants to develop their own system of magic. Since ideally the experimental magician wants to do that, this book would be perfect for providing some ideas.
Book 8: The Possible Human by Jean Houston
The only one of her books I actually liked, it presented a lot of ideas around space/time, inner alchemy, and other concepts that I think would be highly useful for the experimental magician to draw on. Definitely a resource book I still use.
Book 9: Real Magic by Isaac Bonewitz
Another of my favorite books on magic. Bonewitz's painstaking efforts to describe and define magic are useful in terms of getting a better understanding of magic and what one can do with it.
Book 10: The Apophenion by Peter Carroll
I like all of Carroll's works, but his latest one is useful for demonstrating how to create a system of magic around a concept. The experimental magician will find the ideas useful for space/time work as well as playing with the concept of chance.
So those are my ten books I'd recommend for the experimental magician, just starting out. They aren't all on the beaten track of occultism, but they all provide unusual insights and challenge conventional definitions and approaches to magic.