Best Books for Product Managers

One of the best methods for enhancing your product management skills is by picking up a book. There are so many resources when it comes to learning about product management. I find that it’s helpful to read at your own pace and understand the skills that the book is trying to teach.

Now, if you’re trying to pick where to start, you may be a bit confused. With so many books out there, you may be at a loss for which ones may actually be worth the investment. That’s why I’d like to take the time to help you with a few recommendations.

I’ve taken the time to read through many of the recent product manager books and can help give my insight into the best books for product managers. I prefer to start with beginner-level books and work my way up. After reading so many, I can definitely say that each product management book has different advice.

There are usually four different types of product management books. The beginner is useful if you’re just settling into the field, while the intermediate is suitable for those who already have their degree or experience. Advanced is perfect for anyone who’s had experience and is looking to refine their craft.

The very last one is industry-specific product management, which gives specialized advice. These are good for those in the field already and want to get advice based on their specific job.

As you can see, there are so many options when it comes to the best product manager books. That’s why I’ve done the hard part and read a majority of the books for you.
The books listed below are my top recommended books for product managers. These can help you learn how to advise and hone your craft and be productive in your field.

Best Books for Product Managers

The Lean Product Playbook: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products and Rapid Customer Feedback

The Lean Product Playbook: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products and Rapid Customer Feedback

For people interested in designing or building software products: The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman and The Lean Product Playbook by Dan Olsen. Both books have informed my product sense and helped me make decisions about great UX.
Julia Enthoven
Co-Founder/Kapwing
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

Recommended by Marc Goodman in "Tools of Titans".
Marc Goodman
Founder/Future Crimes Institute
Succeeding with Agile: Software Development Using Scrum

Succeeding with Agile: Software Development Using Scrum

I’m a technical guy. I studied the IT field and did software development for a long time until I discovered the business world. So the path for me is to slowly adapt from the clear, technical world, to the fuzzy, way more complex, business world. All the books that I recommend help this transition.


“Succeeding with Agile” - Mike Cohn: for approaching the process involved into building a product in an organized manner.

Nicolae Andronic
Founder/Echoz
Badass: Making Users Awesome

Badass: Making Users Awesome

How to make amazing products. Super fun to read too.

Lewis Smith
Entrepreneur & Developer/BodyTracker
The Four Steps to the Epiphany

The Four Steps to the Epiphany

If you are reading to learn skills that can be implemented in your startup, I’d recommend The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful by Eric Reis and actually avoid its predecessor The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products That Win by Steve Blank until later in your career.
Craig Pearce
Co-Founder/Kid Genius
The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth

The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth

When it comes to work books I definitely like to ask my leaders what their favorite books are. There are lots of repeats (Crossing the Chasm, Innovator's Dilemma & Solution, Lean Startup, etc), but every now and then someone will have a really unique one that I’ll read. I always read those right away. I’ve also taken book recommendations & then not read the book for like a year. I’ll go back and say, “Hey I finally read that book you recommended forever ago.” It’s fun.
Ashley Hathaway
Enterprise Product Manager
Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want

Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want

I could probably name a dozen books here, but I’ll point out The Business Model Generation and Value Prop Design from Strategyzer. I steal from these constantly and are engrained in my work process. These books put into practice really taught me how to think. As soon as I saw that everything should have a foundation of empathy, what good user-testing looks like, how to test and iterate it changed everything. After that any problem could be solved. It wasn’t solving one big monolithic problem. It was going through a process.
Ashley Hathaway
Enterprise Product Manager
The Decision Maker: Unlock the Potential of Everyone in Your Organization, One Decision at a Time

The Decision Maker: Unlock the Potential of Everyone in Your Organization, One Decision at a Time

Within Buffer, we have a concept where anyone is able to make any decision, provided they get advice from people who will be affected by the decision. It is the way we've found to envision a company without managers or bosses. We're still at the beginning of this journey, it's an exciting one to be on and I think we're creating an incredible company to be part of.

This decision making concept originates from a company called AES. I already mentioned Joy At Work, AES co-founder Dennis Bakke's first book and this is a fable he wrote to describe a company changing how they work and adopting the Advice Process.

Joel Gascoigne
Co-founder/Buffer
Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers

Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers

This is a key component in my Purple Cow thinking, but with a twist. I'm not as worried about the chasm as I am about the desire of marketers to go for the big middle.
Seth Godin
Author & Entrepreneur
Thinking, Fast and Slow

Thinking, Fast and Slow

This book is amazing—it didn't change my mind, so much as it has changed the way I think. It helps to understand the difference between the way you make quick decisions, versus considered decisions—it takes different mechanisms in the brain. Understanding which you're doing at any given time can have a profound impact on what you ultimately decide.

John Lilly
Partner/Greylock Partners
Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (The 99U Book Series)

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (The 99U Book Series)

A time management book. Personally, I like Manage your day-to-day by 99U. It is an extremely quick read, but provides some good insights for those who need some basic guidance regarding time management, especially in creative fields.
Andrew Elliott
Founder/GoDesignerGo
The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail

The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail

It's important that we make this transformation, because of what Clayton Christensen calls "the innovator's dilemma," where people who invent something are usually the last ones to see past it, and we certainly don't want to be left behind.

Steve Jobs
Founder/Apple
Purple Cow

Purple Cow

Then, again when I was younger, at the beginning of 2000s, Seth Godin’s Purple Cow and The Cluetrain Manifesto were two pieces of work I’d always refer to, as well as Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup, later on when I was looking at how to become a better tech entrepreneur.
Dragos Novac
CEO/Nordic 9
The Lean Startup

The Lean Startup

There are quite a few good business books on technology, and I'll list below some I find to be a good starting point. Personally, I like biographies a lot and I mostly read biographies of dead people, because those are the most honest ones. So because the computer age is still very young, there won't be a lot of biographies in my list.
Bogdan Iordache
Co-Founder/How to Web
High Output Management

High Output Management

I picked up the book after Grove passed away this year and I found it so succinct, so clear, and so packed with easy-to-understand analogies. It really gets to the heart of what good management is.
Julie Zhuo
VP Product Design/Facebook
Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager

Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager

Perhaps Managing Humans by Michael Lopp would be the most practical - it's a great read, and for people making the leap from developer to manager, it's full of useful advice.
Dave Child
Founder/Readable & ApolloPad
The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You

The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You

I've seen so many people thrust into management in high-growth companies with so little guidance. From now on, I will hand them this book. Its practical wisdom is immediately useful for the newly minted manager — and us old ones.
Ev Williams
Co-Founder/Twitter, CEO/Medium
The 80/20 Manager: The Secret to Working Less and Achieving More

The 80/20 Manager: The Secret to Working Less and Achieving More

Another worthy mention would be The 80/20 Manager: The Secret To Working Less And Achieving More, by Richard Koch.
Cristian-Dragos Baciu
Direct Response Copywriter
Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works

Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works

For business, I've read Influence by Robert Cialdini 3 times, and Traction by Gabriel Weinberg twice, so if number of times read indicates favor, then those are it. There are a whole bunch of others, like The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman, Confession of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy, The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss, and Running Lean by Ash Maurya, that I've also enjoyed and recommend to people.
Ola Olusoga
Co-founder/Populum
The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

I read this book at a time when Udemy was rapidly growing—over the 18 months where we went from 30 to 200 people. It was helpful to read about Horowitz's challenges, worries, and triumphs when addressing the same types of issues at a similar stage of growth. There are so many big decisions you need to make where there's just no clear-cut, right or wrong answer. There are a lot of gray areas. You gather information from your team, but the hard decisions rest with you. This book helped me realize that while I needed to carefully and objectively consider feedback, I was responsible for making a decision in the end—even when it was an unpopular one.

Dennis Yang
CEO/Udemy
Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

Ruimin mentions this book in response to a question about long-term success. From Ruimin's point of view, the chief challenge is for leaders to maintain their entrepreneurial spirit, year after year. He admits it isn't easy:
Zhang Ruimin
CEO/Haier Group
Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation

Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation

Jeff Bezos is known as an authoritarian leader. He has established rules, processes and methods that are strictly followed. Jeff’s Reading List is a list of 12 books Bezos expects Amazon employees to read. Many are related to business, but there are other themes as well.

Author Brad Stone who wrote the Bezos biography The Everything Store lists those 12 books. The author says the books have shaped Bezos’ leadership style and way of thinking. Lean Thinking is one of those 12 books.

Jeff Bezos
CEO/Amazon
Hacking Growth: How Today's Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success

Hacking Growth: How Today’s Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success

The book is new (2017) and growthhacking is a real trend right now.
Kyrylo Taranenko
Head of Marketing/Y-Productive
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

I work in digital marketing so I would [recommend]: [...] Made to stick by Chip and Dan Heath.
Raluca Radu
Owner/MTH Digital
CA$HVERTISING: How to Use More than 100 Secrets of Ad-Agency Psychology to Make Big Money Selling Anything to Anyone

CA$HVERTISING: How to Use More than 100 Secrets of Ad-Agency Psychology to Make Big Money Selling Anything to Anyone

Cashvertising is a virtual blueprint for persuading the consumer mind. It's fast, fun, and a must-read for businesses in all industries.
Roger Dawson
Author/Secrets of Power Negotiating
Now, Discover Your Strengths: How To Develop Your Talents And Those Of The People You Manage

Now, Discover Your Strengths: How To Develop Your Talents And Those Of The People You Manage

This book has been instrumental in how we think about developing talent at Facebook.
Sheryl Sandberg
COO/Facebook
What To Do When It's Your Turn

What To Do When It’s Your Turn

These books and their core ideas have stuck with me the most and continue to guide me when I hit crossroads along the way.
Andra Zaharia
Freelance Content Marketer/The Content Habit
Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble

Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble

The book starts like a punch in the gut, but the story and the reality dose of this book are something that we all need from time to time in the Tech Startup Age. It helped me look beyond the excitement of working on new projects as a goal in itself and keep at least one foot on the ground. Plus the writing is extraordinary!
Irina Marinescu
Product Manager & Co-Founder/Save Potatoes
Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

Part of ambition is modeling yourself after those you’d like to be like. Austin’s philosophy of ruthlessly stealing and remixing the greats might sound appalling at first but it is actually the essence of art. You learn by stealing, you become creative by stealing, you push yourself to be better by working with these materials. Austin is a fantastic artist, but most importantly he communicates the essence of writing and creating art better than anyone else I can think of. It is a manifesto for any young, creative person looking to make his mark. Pair up with Show Your Work which is also excellent.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers

Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers

I could probably name a dozen books here, but I’ll point out The Business Model Generation and Value Prop Design from Strategyzer. I steal from these constantly and are engrained in my work process. These books put into practice really taught me how to think. As soon as I saw that everything should have a foundation of empathy, what good user-testing looks like, how to test and iterate it changed everything. After that any problem could be solved. It wasn’t solving one big monolithic problem. It was going through a process.
Ashley Hathaway
Enterprise Product Manager
Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility

Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility

While I was thinking of the best books to add to this short list, I realized that not even half of them are directly related to digital marketing. This is because I believe that the best marketers are people who understand human nature deeply and aim to bring out the best in it. Call me naive, but that’s how I see it. If I were to want to pursue a career in marketing, I’d read [...] Finite and Infinite Games.
Andra Zaharia
Freelance Content Marketer/The Content Habit
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

This book taught me a valuable lesson about focusing on what’s most important and saying no to everything else. This approach freed up my time dramatically; suddenly focusing on sales and strategy was something I did, not something I wanted to do. If you’ve ever found yourself stretched too thin, feel simultaneously overworked and underutilised, or, and this one was a biggie for me, feel like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people’s agendas, then Essentialism is the game changer you’ve been looking for. This book changed my life and the business.
Heather Baker
CEO/TopLine Comms
The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win

The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win

I don't think I have a specific book that I can call my favourite. Some books have had a big impact on my view of how to build a product/company ("Rework"), some were very enjoyable to read ("The Phoenix Project"), some helped me improve the way I think ("The Pleasure Of Finding Things Out") and some the way I live ("Essentialism") or work ("Deep Work").
Louis Nyffenegger
Founder/PentesterLab
The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America's Leading Design Firm

The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm

I don't know if you can teach this kind of creativity, but you can certainly raise your expectations by seeing how well they do design.
Seth Godin
Author & Entrepreneur
Customer Centered Selling: Sales Techniques for a New World Economy

Customer Centered Selling: Sales Techniques for a New World Economy

At last! A sales primer for the intelligent salesperson. It involves the salesperson actively in the customer's buying process instead of relying on jargon, slogans, and gimmicks.
Phil Duff
Former CFO/Morgan Stanley
Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs

Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs

If you want to find a niche and adapt to the marketing, one of my favorite techniques is Inbound Marketing. Great book to understand what's inbound marketing and how you can use effectively this technique for your business or clients.
Ionut Danifeld
Co-Founder/DevMark.co
Blue Ocean Strategy

Blue Ocean Strategy

There are the normal ones that everybody loves. There would be "Rich Dad Poor Dad," "Who Moved My Cheese?;" I love all the Dale Carnegie books; "The One Minute Manager." I love newer ones like "Blue Ocean Strategy" and all the "Freaknomics" books.
Daymond John
Founder/FUBU
Breathe To Succeed: Increase Workplace Productivity, Creativity, and Clarity through the Power of Mindfulness

Breathe To Succeed: Increase Workplace Productivity, Creativity, and Clarity through the Power of Mindfulness

Breathe to Succeed is an excellent prescription for any aspiring or current leader. Sandy Abrams’ new book offers valuable insights into addressing the hectic schedule and constant stress of everyone from an employee to the CEO. By understanding the causes and effects of stress on the human body, Sandy offers tools of the mind and breath to find your way through the storm and achieve optimal health.
Mark Bertolini
Former Chairman & CEO/Aetna
Contagious: Why Things Catch On

Contagious: Why Things Catch On

One book that actually helped me a great deal in the way I was communicating with my products and marketing, is Contagious by Jonah Berger, in which he describes “why things catch on” or “how to create viral content”. I did apply lots of his ideas and even inspired my team to work on those principles both online and offline. I remember reading it and taking notes (things I actually rarely do when I read, I like to be in it and absorb without being distracted by nothing) and really trying to soak in those principles. and I think I did.

Nicolas Jouvenceau
CEO/Pink Diamonds Boutique