11 Must-Read PM Books

Get an Edge on Your Product Process

Hey everyone! It’s Carlos again. Today I’d like to talk about my list of MUST-read books for PMs, the same books that top PMs (including myself!) read to get to the top of their game. If you need a holistic view of what product management is all about, look no further.

Why are Product Management Books important? In the old times, it used to be the case that you would learn side-by-side with another professional. They would tell you the secrets of their trade, behaving like veterans who have marched into a hundred and one battles.

Today, the amount of free online information is inversely proportional to its usability. Equally, there is more competition than ever to land those practical experiences in Product Management. The next best thing is to pick up a book.

However, you need to make sure that the authors have actually lived through the experience. You will never learn anything by listening to theories: you must reflect on real case studies. Whatever your level of PM experience, there’s a lot to be said for picking up a good book. We’ve collected a list of our favorites on a range of topics from entry-level to expert…

1. Inspired: How To Create Products Customers Love

Inspiration, tools and techniques, and practical help

Marty Cagan founded Silicon Valley Product Group to help and inspire other PMs, condensing years of experience into this book. In it, he takes you through some of the most valuable lessons he has learned in his time working with some of the biggest companies today. If you’re looking for a voice of authority in Product Management, this is a pretty great one!

Get it here

2. Cracking the PM Interview

For hopeful PMs looking for their next role

Gayle McDowell, the author, is the Founder and CEO of CareerCup and the author of Cracking the Coding Interview and Cracking the Tech Career.
Gayle has worked as a Software Engineer for Google, Microsoft, and Apple and has extensive interviewing experience on both sides of the table. Cracking the PM Interview has become the #1 interview prep book for aspiring product managers. Watch our talk with Gayle to learn the essentials.

Get it here

3. My Product Management Toolkit

For when you’re desperately seeking the next problem-solving tool

Marc Abraham has prepared this guide with some of the most common tools used by Product Managers. Every function of the job (customer knowledge, stakeholder management, product development) is linked to certain methods and applications. Learn how to match every challenge with its solution. If you want to know more, check out this post we wrote on the most essential tools and software for this year.

Get it here

4. The Lean Product Playbook

Every contemporary PMs go-to guide

The Lean Product Playbook provides specific, step-by-step guidance on how to apply Lean Startup ideas. The author, Dan Olsen, is a seasoned tech consultant and he has developed an actionable model for product-market fit. It consists of a 6-step process that explains how to rapidly iterate based on customer feedback, illustrated with real-world examples. Check out our exclusive discussion of the book with his author.

Get it here

5. Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days

How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days

Learn the secrets to the five-day process used by three partners at Google Ventures to move from prototype to decision. Sound impossible? You’ll have to pick up this book and find out for yourself…

Get it here

6. Launch: The Roadmap to Product Management Success

Learn how top PMs adapt to shifts in trends and tech culture

Tech is constantly changing. While Product Managers are professionals with an established legacy, their areas of interest evolve. In later years, Blockchain, Machine Learning and other advancements have increased their usability. Learn from experienced Product Managers how they have dealt with these opportunities while overcoming their challenges.

Get it here

7. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

Nir Eyal gives us a practical guide to building better products

Eyal’s aim with this book was to create the guide he wished he’d had at the start of his career in products. The Hook Model helps companies to encourage customer behavior without aggressive (and expensive) marketing campaigns. This comprehensive guide explains how to create products that become your customer’s habit, always bringing them back for more.

Get it here

8. Product Mindset: How to Get Inside Your Customer’s Mind

Because the best PM is a customer-obsessed PM

To build products that people love, you need to understand the conditions of their lives, and the intricacies of their state of mind. Learn how Spotify won over artists, how Netflix tamed AI, and the psychological mechanism that your smartphone shares with a casino slot machine. Practical advice and thought leadership from PMs at companies like Intercom, Pandora, Jet.com, and more.

Get it here

9. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Understanding motivation, both your customers’ and your own

Described as provocative and persuasive, this book by Daniel H. Pink deep dives into the concept of motivation. Dividing motivation into three parts -autonomy, mastery, and purpose – Pink succinctly tackles things like job satisfaction, and our desire to do good in the world. Not only will this be insightful in terms of our own personal motivations, but also for better understanding our users.

Get it here

10. When Coffee & Kale Compete

See Jobs To Be Done in a whole new light, and get better at building products people love

You might think you know everything about Jobs To Be Done, but Alan Klement’s insights will help you look at them in a whole new way. The aim of this book is to ultimately help you build products that people want to buy, reduce waste within your organization, and help your company stay competitive. And the best part? It’s even free! There’s no excuse not to check it out!

Get it here

11. Well Designed

Up your Product Design knowledge and become a better Product Manager

You don’t need to be an artist, but as someone who builds products that need to be designed…you should know at least a bit about design! In this book, Jon Kolko explains how to determine product-market fit, identify behavioural insights, sketch a product strategy, and polish product details.

Get it here

Want to read more? Check out Product School’s FREE product management books!

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Check out some of the previous issues:

Product Management Skills: Influence Without Authority

What is Technical Product Management Anyway?

Product Management Hacks [Podcast]