13 Essential Books for Product Managers

Sofia Quintero
Mar 6 · 9 min read

Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love

The first book that all mid-career product managers should read is Marty Cagan’s Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love.

Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data

Product managers rely on data to make decisions, secure buy-in from stakeholders, and tell the story of their products. But as important as statistical analysis can be in product management, it’s all too easy to overlook what the data is really telling us. That’s why Charles Wheelan’s Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data is such a valuable read for product managers looking to up their game.

Beautiful Evidence

Design is arguably the most important aspect of contemporary product development. Although many product managers have a solid grasp on the fundamentals of good design, cultivating a deeper understanding of how and why good design works is critical for product managers who want to create better products. Few books illustrate these principles more effectively than Edward Tufte’s Beautiful Evidence.

Badass: Making Users Awesome

The best product managers not only want to create products for their users; they also want to empower users to solve their problems and make their lives better — and Kathy Sierra’s Badass: Making Users Awesome is an actionable, hands-on blueprint on how to do just that.

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

If you’ve been working in product management for a while, there’s an excellent chance you’ve already read Nir Eyal’s bestselling Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. If you haven’t read it, it should be at the top of your reading list.

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

Andreessen Horowitz cofounder Ben Horowitz’s book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers, became an overnight best seller upon its release back in 2014. The world of technology has changed dramatically since the book’s first edition, but Horowitz’s seminal book is still one of the best overviews of contemporary product development and running a startup out there.

Measure What Matters

Venture capitalist and Kleiner Perkins chairman John Doerr has been helping entrepreneurs succeed for almost 40 years. Doerr has long championed the concept of OKR — objectives and key results — and distills much of his knowledge and experience into his fascinating book, Measure What Matters.

Escaping the Build Trap: How Effective Product Management Creates Real Value

Many product managers will be intimately familiar with the perils of “the build trap” — the practice of focusing exclusively on output rather than outcomes by releasing one feature after another instead of focusing on the needs and desires of the user. Far too many companies fall into this rut, which is why Melissa Perri’s Escaping the Build Trap: How Effective Product Management Creates Real Value is an essential read for product managers hoping to take their career to the next level.

Product Leadership: How Top Product Managers Launch Awesome Products and Build Successful Teams

There’s a world of difference between product management and product leadership, and it’s this critical difference that forms the basis of Richard Banfield, Martin Eriksson, and Nate Walkingshaw’s Product Leadership: How Top Product Managers Launch Awesome Products and Build Successful Teams.

Meaningful: The Story of Ideas That Fly

The central premise of brand strategist and best-selling marketing author Bernadette Jiwa’s Meaningful: The Story of Ideas That Fly is “the Story Strategy,” a blueprint for building products that prioritizes the needs and desires of end users.

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

The idea behind Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz’s best-selling Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days is simple: Build better products, faster.

Selling Blue Elephants: How to Make Great Products That People Want Before They Even Know They Want Them

Alex Gofman and Howard Moskowitz’s Selling Blue Elephants: How to Make Great Products That People Want Before They Even Know They Want Them is centered on a principle the authors call rule-developing experimentation, or RDE.

The Halo Effect . . . and Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers

The final title in our roundup of essential books for mid-career product managers is Phil Rosenzweig’s The Halo Effect . . . and Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers.


Hungry for Insight

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Sofia Quintero

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Founder and CEO at https://getenjoyhq.com/

Hungry for Insight

A community for product people leading change