43 Best Books for Product Managers in 2021

Essential product management reading

By Ken Norton

I’m regularly asked for product manager book recommendations. There are lots of excellent books about product management, but these are the ones I'd consider essential to any PM’s bookshelf.

Product Leadership cover
TOP PICK

Product Leadership

Author: Richard Banfield, Martin Eriksson and Nate Walkingshaw

From my foreword: “Your guide to navigating product leadership, the one I never had. Within these pages you’ll hear a diversity of opinions from the industry’s most successful and respected product leaders, insights that will help you lead your team and deliver exceptional products.”

Get it: Amazon
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TOP PICK

The Mythical Man-Month

Author: Frederick Brooks

If you could only read one computer science book, this would be it. More than forty-five years old, it’s as relevant as ever. I promise you’ll nod your head as Brooks skewers mistakes that engineering leaders continue to make to this day.

Get it: Amazon
Inspired cover
TOP PICK

Inspired

Author: Marty Cagan

If you could only read one book on product management, this would be it. Marty has had a long and storied product management career, and is the founder of Silicon Valley Product Group.

Get it: Amazon
Empowered cover
TOP PICK

Empowered

Author: Marty Cagan and Chris Jones

The sequel to Inspired, this book explores what the best product companies have in common. “Most people think it’s because these companies are somehow able to find and attract a level of talent that makes this innovation possible. But the real advantage these companies have is not so much who they hire, but rather how they enable their people to work together to solve hard problems and create extraordinary products.”

Get it: Amazon
The Innovator's Dilemma cover
TOP PICK

The Innovator's Dilemma

Author: Clayton Christensen

The most important business and product management book of the past fifty years. If you’re a technology PM and you haven’t read Christensen, do so right now.

Get it: Amazon
High Output Management cover
TOP PICK

High Output Management

Author: Andy Grove

This one only gets better with age. Although it’s only mentioned briefly, this is where Andy Grove first introduced OKRs to the world. His practical advice about meetings, especially the importance of 1-on-1s, inspired my own writing.

Get it: Amazon
Continuous Discovery Habits cover
TOP PICK

Continuous Discovery Habits

Author: Teresa Torres

Teresa Torres is the best in the business at helping teams build products and services that their customers want. Here she shares her techniques for transforming your process into one of continuous discovery and learning.

Get it: Amazon
Getting Things Done cover

Getting Things Done

Author: David Allen

Soon after this book was published Allen attracted an almost cult-like following. Product managers juggle hundreds of priorities, and this book will help you balance your time.

Get it: Amazon
Predictably Irrational cover

Predictably Irrational

Author: Dan Ariely

One of the best books on human nature, Ariely’s enjoyable book helps us understand why people behave irrationally.

Get it: Amazon
Yes to the Mess: Surprising Leadership Lessons from Jazz cover

Yes to the Mess: Surprising Leadership Lessons from Jazz

Author: Frank Barrett

Jazz is messy, and musicians seem to court disaster night after night. What can product leaders learn from how these artists approach their art? Barrett’s entertaining book formed the backbone for my essay on jazz and product management.

Get it: Amazon
Work Rules! cover

Work Rules!

Author: Laszlo Bock

Laszlo and his team at Google have reinvented the role of human resources. This book is a terrific overview of what makes Google Google, from culture, to hiring, to making decisions.

Get it: Amazon
Quiet: The Power of Introverts cover

Quiet: The Power of Introverts

Author: Susan Cain

I’m an introvert and I spent years treating it as a weakness. Susan’s book opened my eyes to the unique contributions introverts make. Even if you’re not an introvert yourself, I guarantee you work with lots of them.

Get it: Amazon
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup cover

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

Author: John Carreyrou

The chilling story of Theranos. Many lessons in here about what can happen when you don’t act ethically and don’t trust your people.

Get it: Amazon
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Creativity, Inc

Author: Ed Catmull

If you appreciated my essay 10x Not 10%, you’ll enjoy Catmull’s book about putting 10x into practice. He draws from the success – and failures – of Pixar to teach us how to lead creative teams.

Get it: Amazon
Competing Against Luck cover

Competing Against Luck

Author: Clayton Christensen

Christensen explores one of his approaches to combating the Innovator’s Dilemma: Jobs-To-Be-Done (JTBD).

Get it: Amazon
The Innovator's Solution cover

The Innovator's Solution

Author: Clayton Christensen

The Innovator’s Dilemma’s equally essential follow-up. How product managers can fight the innovator’s dilemma.

Get it: Amazon
Brave New Work cover

Brave New Work

Author: Aaron Dignan

A good general overview of several of the concepts on the future of work that I’ve covered in my essays and talks.

Get it: Amazon
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products cover

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

Author: Nir Eyal

Why do some products take hold while others quietly fail? Highly recommended for any PM building consumer products.

Get it: Amazon
Getting To Yes cover

Getting To Yes

Author: Roger Fisher and William Ury

Product managers need to be master negotiators and there’s no better guide to negotiation than this classic.

Get it: Amazon
Team of Rivals cover

Team of Rivals

Author: Doris Kearns Goodwin

Abraham Lincoln surrounded himself with his opponents, gradually turning them into admirers and influential advisors. Lincoln’s approach to leadership offers lessons for anyone looking to tap into the wisdom of others, with or without formal authority.

Get it: Amazon
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die cover

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Author: Chip Heath and Dan Heath

The instant classic about why some ideas thrive, why others die, and how to improve your idea’s chances.

Get it: Amazon
The Hard Thing About Hard Things cover

The Hard Thing About Hard Things

Author: Ben Horowitz

The most truly practical startup management book. Ben cuts through the B.S. and addresses the messy ambiguity of the real world in entertaining fashion.

Get it: Amazon
How to Lie with Statistics cover

How to Lie with Statistics

Author: Darrell Huff

Product managers need a solid foundation in statistics to be metrics-driven. This classic book is a lively and fun book will leave you smarter and more skeptical.

Get it: Amazon
Steve Jobs cover

Steve Jobs

Author: Walter Isaacson

One of the best biographies of all time, of the greatest product manager of all time.

Get it: Amazon
Meaningful: the Story of Ideas that Fly cover

Meaningful: the Story of Ideas that Fly

Author: Bernadette Jiwa

Every business that flies starts not with the best idea, the biggest budget or better marketing, but with the story of someone who wants to do something—and can’t. Marketing as storytelling.

Get it: Amazon
Thinking, Fast and Slow cover

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Author: Daniel Kahneman

When does our animal brain make decisions for us before our more analytical brain has a chance to think through the consequences? From Nobel laureate Kahneman, this is one of the most important psychology books ever written.

Get it: Amazon
On Writing cover

On Writing

Author: Stephen King

Product managers need to be good writers, and this is how you learn from one of the masters of the craft.

Get it: Amazon
Sprint cover

Sprint

Author: Jake Knapp

From my former partners in GV Design—how to cut through the crap, identify a problem, and test it in only one week.

Get it: Amazon
Don't Make Me Think cover

Don't Make Me Think

Author: Steve Krug

This lighthearted book about user interface design is fun to read, and chock full of lessons for PMs.

Get it: Amazon
Product Management in Practice cover

Product Management in Practice

Author: Matt LeMay

Real-world, practical advice for PMs. Focused on communication, organization, research, and execution.

Get it: Amazon
In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives cover

In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives

Author: Steven Levy

Levy was given unprecedented access to Google, and the result is what I consider to be an accurate depiction of how the company operates. A good overview of how Google product managers work.

Get it: Amazon
Inside the Tornado cover

Inside the Tornado

Author: Geoffrey Moore

Moore’s follow-up tells you what to do after you’ve crossed the chasm, when it’s make-or-break around your ability to reach mainstream customers.

Get it: Amazon
Crossing the Chasm cover

Crossing the Chasm

Author: Geoffrey Moore

The classic technology marketing book. Moore was the first to evaluate the role of early adopters.

Get it: Amazon
The Design of Everyday Things cover

The Design of Everyday Things

Author: Donald Norman

After you read Norman’s book you’ll notice design everywhere, both good and bad. A classic in the field of design.

Get it: Amazon
The Lean Product Playbook cover

The Lean Product Playbook

Author: Dan Olsen

Dan’s book is a perfect companion to Lean Startup, with lots of tactical advice and techniques for putting lean methodologies into practice.

Get it: Amazon
Escaping the Build Trap cover

Escaping the Build Trap

Author: Melissa Perri

Melissa Perri explains how laying the foundation for great product management can help companies solve real customer problems while achieving business goals. By understanding how to communicate and collaborate within a company structure, you can create a product culture that benefits both the business and the customer.

Get it: Amazon
Positioning cover

Positioning

Author: Al Ries and Jack Trout

The classic marketing book, one of the first to specifically address positioning your product in a consumer’s mind.

Get it: Amazon
The Lean Startup cover

The Lean Startup

Author: Eric Ries

This book started a revolution in product development, and introduced us to the now-ubiquitous concepts of the MVP and the pivot. Essential book for startup product managers.

Get it: Amazon
The Halo Effect cover

The Halo Effect

Author: Phil Rosenzweig

A blistering takedown of pop management books. It will sharpen your skepticism about the management advice anyone gives you (including me).

Get it: Amazon
Radical Candor cover

Radical Candor

Author: Kim Scott

Kim built Google’s AdSense business and then went on to to create Apple’s highly regarded manager training program. Her book shows you how to be forthright and honest, without being a jerk.

Get it: Amazon
Nudge cover

Nudge

Author: Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein

In product development, defaults matter. Thaler’s is the best book on why that is, and how to steer your users in the right direction.

Get it: Amazon
Listen Like You Mean It: Reclaiming the Lost Art of True Connection cover

Listen Like You Mean It: Reclaiming the Lost Art of True Connection

Author: Ximena Vengoechea

Listening is one of the most important product management skills. Learn how to connect to customers, co-workers, and team members with this beautifully illustrated and accessible book.

Get it: Amazon
The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World's Greatest Teams cover

The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World's Greatest Teams

Author: Sam Walker

The founding editor of The Wall Street Journal’s sports section looks at the leadership qualities of the most successful sports leaders in history. And they’re not what you think.

Get it: Amazon

Can't find the time to read? Learn how I am able to read more than a book a week. It's easier than you think.

The titles of these product manager books link to Amazon.com through their affiliate program. I donate all proceeds to charity and also match the donation on a two-for-one basis.

Photo of Ken Norton's product management bookshelf

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Coaching for Product Leaders

If you are interested in growing as a product manager or product leader, I offer product management coaching. I have worked with everyone from new grads just starting their PM careers to newly promoted product directors to experienced VPs of Product and Chief Product Officers. Schedule a free introductory session.

Learn more »

Ken Norton spent more than fourteen years at Google where he led product initiatives for Docs, Calendar, Google Mobile Maps, and GV (formerly Google Ventures).