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Essential Reading: 10 of the Best Books for Product Managers

We’re regularly asked for different resources to learn about product management. While there are always videos you can turn to on our YouTube channel, nothing matches a good book for digging deep into a subject, absorbing new concepts, and returning time and time again. There are so many product-related publications out there that it’s difficult to know where to begin. So, to help you cut through the clutter and focus on what’s actually worth reading, we’ve compiled a list of the best books for Product Managers, ranging from beginner to expert.

Best Books for Getting Started in Product Management

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

Eric Ries is an author, blogger, and entrepreneur. The Lean Startup is one of the best books on product management because in it he shows us how to establish a profitable and long-lasting firm using a scientific method.

The Lean Startup is a must-read for anybody interested in starting a business or fine-tuning an existing one. It walks the reader through understanding customers, market testing, user experience analysis, and, most crucially, hustling to complete all of these tasks before cash runs out.

If you’ve ever thought about using your Product Manager skill set to start a new enterprise, then this is the book for you.

The Art of Product Management by Rich Mironov

Mironov is a Product Executive Coach who works with product management teams and Agile development teams. In The Art of Product Management: Lessons From a Silicon Valley Innovator, he takes us on a journey inside the head of a product management thought leader.

The Art of Product Management provides Product Managers and IT experts with strategic guidance on startups, large companies, how to think like a consumer, and how much products should cost. Mironov also urges us to be proud of our work and our teammates. 

Product Managers will see themselves and their problems with the everyday procedure set in this book.

Inspired: How To Create Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan

Marty Cagan is a thought leader in technology product management. In Inspired, he teaches readers how to build and staff a dynamic and successful product organization, as well as how to identify and create technology products that your consumers will love and that will work for your business.

Inspired focuses on assembling the right team with the right skill sets, discovering the right product, adopting an effective yet lightweight process, and building a strong product culture. 

It’s no surprise that Marty Cagan is behind one of the best books for Product Managers; he’s a well-known name among aspiring and veteran Product Managers alike. Cagan is a member of the Silicon Valley Product Group and also penned the 2020 release Empowered: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products. Product people can immediately apply what they’ve learned from either book within their own organizations and in doing so dramatically improve their product efforts.

Top 4 Product Management Guides

The Lean Product Playbook by Dan Olsen

Dan Olsen, a seasoned tech consultant, created an executable strategy for product-market fit in The Lean Product Playbook.

The Lean Product Playbook is a step-by-step approach to creating customer-loving products. We all know that creating exceptional products is difficult, whether you work for a startup or an established corporation. 

This makes the list of best books on product management because it provides straightforward, step-by-step instructions and suggestions to enhance your chances of creating profitable products.

Cracking the PM Interview by Gayle Laakmann McDowell

McDowell, CareerCup’s founder and CEO, got her credentials as a software developer for Microsoft, Apple, and Google. 

Cracking the PM Interview is a must read book for aspiring Product Managers because it provides a thorough guide to securing a product management position at a startup or a larger tech firm.

Cracking the PM Interview will help you decipher and learn how the vaguely titled “PM” position differs by company. Here at Product Gym, we believe learning how to ace a PM interview is one of the most under-trained skills that will actually land you a position.

Here’s what our members love about this book:

“the book gives you a holistic view of what product management is and what companies are expecting from a PM, what are the roles and responsibilities along with examples of various questions.”

Divya Gupta, Product Gym Member

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

Nir Eyal, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, helps to answer, “What drives us to connect with particular products just because we have a habit of doing so?” in one of the most accessible Product Manager books on this list.

Eyal’s years of research, advising, and practical expertise is reflected in Hooked. He published the book he wished he had had as a startup founder: a how-to guide for developing better products, not abstract theory. 

Product Managers — and everyone else interested in learning how products affect human behavior — should read Hooked. You can even learn how to apply some of the lessons in this book to upgrade your own personal branding.

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

Perri is the CEO of the Product Management consultancy firm, Produx Labs. Her work in Escaping the Build Trap is one of the best books for product managers because it adopts a customer-centric culture that emphasizes outcomes rather than production.

Escaping the Build Trap shows how building the groundwork for excellent product management may assist businesses in solving real-world consumer problems while also attaining corporate objectives. You can develop a product culture that helps both the business and the consumer by communicating and cooperating within a corporate structure.

Product Managers can garner insight by delving through this book’s pages and bringing practical applications to the table at your next meeting.

Top 3 Books on Leadership for Product Managers

Dare to Lead by Dr. Brené Brown

Are you surprised to see a Brené Brown book on our Top Product Manager Books list? You shouldn’t be. Dr. Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston, and thanks to Dare to Lead, is a #1 NYT best-selling author.

According to Dare to Lead, vulnerability, trust, principles, and resilience are the most important leadership characteristics. The book is a counter-narrative about current workplace culture that can be applied to any industry, including product. Daring to lead entails having the courage to take on leadership roles that reveal fear and uncertainty.

While not solely aimed at Product Managers, Dare to Lead is nonetheless an essential product management book, since it can help guide new managers navigating a leadership role.

Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek is the writer of several best-selling books, including Start With Why (which is also among the best books for Product Managers out there) and The Infinite Game. He is most recognized for popularizing the notion of WHY (the 3rd most popular TED Talk of all time).

Leaders Eat Last makes the cut for this list because of its exploration of effective leadership and its effects on corporate culture. Workplace culture reflects leadership; establishing a “Circle of Safety” that stresses empathy and support ensures that both individuals and the organization prosper.

Aspiring Product Managers can take a lot of value from the leadership examples presented in this book. After all, even if you have the finest product or service in the world, things will start to fall apart if your team members are unhappy. 

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

The authors of this book are two highly decorated navy seals. In this #1 NYT bestseller, they showcase how they translated the leadership skills they learned in battle to ones that are equally applicable to the business world.

Extreme Ownership immerses us in the most stressful circumstance imaginable, combat and war, to teach us about leadership. While the settings of a warzone and a boardroom may be different, leadership principles transcend these boundaries. 

Willink and Babin present their readers with impossible situations and demonstrate how to come out on the other side. With Extreme Ownership, aspiring Product Managers can gain knowledge about what motivates people to perform at peak condition for a competent leader.

Ready to Put Your Reading into Practice? 

We hope you spend some time browsing through this collection of the best books for Product Managers. If any of these books have inspired you to step into the realm of product management, then you may be interested in exploring what Product Gym has to offer. Our career coaches are offering free 30-minute coaching sessions to get you started on your product management journey. Schedule a free consultation today!