A Reading List, by a Product Manager for Product Managers

Don’t believe a Product Manager when they say there is just one book that you should read… We’re all generealists by trade. So here’s all the books I have on my TBR list or have read and recommend, organised by topic.

Edit 27/03/2020: I have added a couple of books, as suggested by you (the readers)!

Edit 30/03/2020: I’’ve added some books on UX Writing, as recommended by a UX Writer for all those PMs that don’t have UX Writers on their team.

Product Management, Business Strategy, and Hacking Growth:

  • Cracking the PM Interview: Startups love to use this book to craft their interviews, so use it to gain insight on how to actually pass each interview stage.
  • The Product Manager’s Survival Guide: a great reference on everything you need to do and know upon joining a new company as a Product Manager.
  • The First 90 Days: A how-to guide for any leader’s first 90 days in a company.
  • The Product Manager’s Desk Reference: I can’t tell you how many times I needed to pick up this book for templates or tools. It saved alot of Googling time.
  • Product Leadership: Written by Product Managers you often see giving inspiring talks at conferences.
  • The Lean Startup: How constantly testing and iterating on a product can create successful products with few resources. Just read it, everyone’s always referring to it.
  • Essentialism (as suggested by you): How to ruthlessly prioritise to become more effective.
  • Sprint: How to structure a 5 day sprint, to get to MVP as quickly as possible.
  • Crossing The Chasm: Bridging the gap between getting early adopters and the early majority users in a product’s lifecycle.
  • Hooked, How to Build Habit Forming Products: Not all products should be habit forming, but the more often a user uses your product the more valuable it might be.
  • Start with Why: Why are some people and organizations more inventive, pioneering and successful than others? And why are they able to repeat their success again and again?
  • Inspired, How To Create Tech Products Customers Love: Written by a veteran Product Manager.
  • The Innovator’s Dilemma: Why industries get disrupted and which companies are likely to disrupt them.
  • Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: How to spot the difference between action-based effective strategies and vanity-based strategies that will ultimately fail.
  • The Decision Book, 50 Models for Strategic Thinking: All the decision making models you would be taught on a MBA course. Save your money on the MBA (unless you want to join Google and the like), and get this instead.
  • The Signs Were There: The clues for investors that a company is headed for a fall, by looking at a company’s books. Could be used to determine if it’s time to leave a startup.
  • Hacking Growth: How the fastest growing companies use a growth framework and mindset to scale.
  • Zero to One: The principles are useful, the examples are innaccurate and often based on stereotypes rather than research. Founders love it anyway.
  • Strategize, Product Strategy and Product Roadmap Practices for the Digital Age: Written by the guy who brought us the Product Vision Board (super useful, by the way).
  • How Google Works: This does what it says on the tin. Super useful if you are looking to join Google or simply take inspiration.
  • Inside Apple: Apple’s notriously secretive but this is an inside look of how it works.
  • The Hard Thing about Hard Things: Founders love this, but it’s not all that useful as a PM. Read it to bond with Founders or PMs that were.

Working With Others:

  • The Making of a Manager: A truly practical guide to being a Manager, even if you aren’t officially managing a team. Filled with examples of what to do in almost every scenario, as written by a Manager at Facebook who grew with the company.
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People: The basic premise of this book is simple; actually be interested in other people and try to remember pertinent details about them to make them feel seen. However, Founders love referring to this and talking about it so just read it anyway.
  • Radical Candor: Easy in theory, but requires alot of practice to master and psycholgical safety to be effective. This doesn’t work in highly politicized offices, but it’s a nice ideal and useful if you have a trusting team.
  • Crucial Conversations: A blueprint for diffusing tension in a conversation, if you need it.
  • The Culture Map: Don’t underestimate how different cultures can be, especially when it comes to receiving feedback (ie. British and American cultures give feedback in completely opposite ways). This can also be used if you are conducting Research in countries you aren’t intimately familiar with.
  • Never Split the Difference (as suggested by you): Methods for negotiation which can come in useful for negotiating with stakeholders.

UX Research, Data and Analytics:

UX/UI Design:

UX Writing:

Putting Customers at the Heart of Your Business:

  • Customer Success: A guide to what the emerging role of “Customer Success” is -who often bring more actionable insights for Product Teams for improving retention than other teams.

Product Manager @ Soldo by day, devourer of books by night.

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