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 on Product Management, this is a pretty great one!
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.
3. The Product Book
An all-encompassing guide for PMs at any levels
Subtitled “How to Become a Great Product Manager”, this book by Josh Anon (former Pixar PM) and Carlos González de Villaumbrosia (Product School CEO) is all about the PM life. With practical examples supported by theoretical innovation (rather than the opposite, which is the usual!), The Product Book will help you take your first steps in product. For experienced PMs, it will help them review the essential concepts in the discipline.
4. Tribe of Mentors
Varied advice from a long and impressive list of top performers
Timothy Ferris collects together a catalogue of advice and experiences from 130+ successful people. All age groups and industries are covered, ‘leaving no stone unturned’ as the author likes to put it. Whether you want to try a more efficient morning routine, or prioritise tasks in a new way, this book will turn you into a superstar.
5. 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.
6. Hired: How to Get a Product Management Job
Land your next job with ease, by learning how from the best of the best
It is not often easy to understand the dynamics of career transitioning and job searching in the product sphere. This dedicated guide makes sure to provide information about the most common and uncommon transitions; getting a job in particular tech companies; and providing direct interview advice. It is all backed by the wise experiences of PMs who have worked for companies like Google, Airbnb, Facebook, Apple or Amazon.
7. 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.
8. 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…
9. 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.
10. 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 behaviour 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.
11. Ship It: Silicon Valley Product Managers Reveal All
All the best-kept secrets from Silicon Valley
Even the best Product Managers cannot work through instinct alone. You’re not psychic. You need to gather data. You need to systematically understand your users. And you need to learn how to effectively communicate this understanding to your team, so they are inspired to share your vision and stay on track. Inside ‘Ship It’ you will find specific advice and general wisdom about Product Management.
12. Game Thinking
Amy Jo Kim lays down what product people can learn from the games industry
You too can adopt the strategies used by major games developers to innovate and find your superfans. Amy Jo Kim spills the secrets behind her success while working on The Sims, Rock Band, and Ultima Online. What keeps people glued to the screen? What’s turned gaming into a $130 Billion industry? More importantly, what does this have to do with your products? Pick up this book to find out!
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. Dare to Lead
“A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for recognizing the potential in people and ideas, and has the courage to develop that potential.”
Brené Brown is one of the most influential speakers on leadership around. In this book, she talks about how leaders become strong, take risks, and lead with courage. If you find yourself wanting to build on your soft skills like communication, this is the book for you. A wonderfully profound read, equipping you with bravery you can take into the boardroom, and out into your everyday life.
16. When Coffee & Kale Compete
See Jobs To Be Done in a whole new light, and get better at building product people love
You might think you know everything about Jobs To Be Done, but Alan Klement’s insights will help you look at then 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!
17. The Making of a Manager
“I learned then one of my first lessons of management—the best outcomes come from inspiring people to action, not telling them what to do.”
Sometimes Product Managers focus too much on the Product part and less on the Management part. That’s where Julie Zhuo’s book comes in. Julie Zhuo spent over 11 years as a VP of Product Design at Facebook, and is widely considered to be a product design leader. In this bestseller, she reveals her tactics for being the best manager possible, and getting the most our of your teams. Learn how to lead, and how to inspire.
18. What You Do Is Who You Are
Create your company culture
Part of being a leader is being an owner of company culture. Within your teams, establishing a culture is a great way to keep things moving swiftly, avoid silos, and at the end of the day, build great products. Ben Horowitz’s guide has everything that a Senior Product Manager or Head of Product needs to know about building “cultures that can weather both good and bad times.“
19. The Lean Startup
“We must learn what customers really want, not what they say they want or what we think they should want.”
Eric Ries’ guide to how modern entrepreneurs build their businesses is an absolute must-read for many, even if you work for a giant corporation and not a startup. But if you are starting your own businesses, there’s no better read than The Lean Startups! Find out how to build a business that listens to customers, provides real value, and can adapt and iterate quickly.
20. 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 which 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.
Even More Product Management Resources
Hungry for more? After reading most of these books, you will be a Product Management master. However, it is possible that you might want more. There are some things you can do to increase your PM knowledge:
- Join our Slack and Facebook communities to learn about the latest in the product world.
- Check out PM Library, an online repository of books for product people.
- Subscribe to your YouTube Channel to watch the latest talks from our events.
- Listen to our podcasts.
- Join us at one of our events in your town.
- And get access to Product School Pro, The most exclusive community for Product Leaders.