6 Book Recommendations From Product Managers

There are many fantastic books out there for product managers.

We know this because when we published our own list of 10 must-read books for product managers, many of you responded by weighing in with additional recommendations.

We now know two things about those of you who responded to our blog post with more great book ideas: First, you’re product professionals, so we can assume you know a great PM book when you read it. And second, whether you discovered our 10-books post right here on the ProductPlan blog or through one of the PM communities where we linked to it, you’re also avid readers.

So we wanted to share some of your great product management book suggestions with the rest of our community. What follows are the most-suggested titles we found in the comments section on our original blog post on must-read books—some posted under the original article and others posted in the product management communities where we shared the post. We’ve also included some titles here that we found mentioned only once in the comments—but that was just awesome and needed to be included.

Some of these titles we’d already read and loved, but our original list called for only ten books, so we had to make some difficult choices. (Thankfully, though, we’re able to include them here after all.) Others on this list, we’ll admit, we hadn’t read. But the fact that several of you engaged product managers out there thought highly of them was good enough for us. Well, after we checked the reviews.

One more note:

For our original post, 10 must-read books for product managers, we intentionally crafted a well-rounded list that included great information covering a lot of topics we believed a product manager could benefit from. For this list, though, most of the titles are specific to the field of product management.

1. The Lean Startup

Excellent call, community! This was the most-mentioned book to add to the list by PM commenters across all of our blog’s appearances.

In case you’re unfamiliar with this one, author Eric Ries is the person responsible for the term “lean startup,” and what he did with this book was pretty amazing. He introduced a new approach to developing businesses and products that followed from—and built on—agile development. Using some of the iterative methods in agile, the Lean Startup Product Development method switches the focus from the product manager (or product owner) to the customer. It was pretty radical stuff for its day, and it’s still a useful way to think about launching either a single product or an entire business.

2. Hooked

Okay, remember when we said that some of the titles you suggested we hadn’t read ourselves? This one: Never even heard of it.

But enough of you out there, members of our trusty ProductPlan community, wrote glowingly about the book (one even called it his “product bible”) that we had to include it here.

So, given that we haven’t read it, what can we tell you about it? What Amazon told us: That author Nir Eyal writes about how, as product managers, we can leverage what we know about the psychology of habits to develop products that customers won’t be able to resist.

Sounds interesting to us!

3. Blue Ocean Strategy

Okay, more honesty. Hadn’t read this one either. Which is particularly difficult to admit, for a couple of reasons.

First, this book, like the others listed above, received mentions from several of you out there. And second, as Jefry noted in his comment if you haven’t read Blue Ocean Strategy, “You are not allowed to call yourself a product manager.” Ouch.

But there’s obviously good news here as well. If the book is this awesome, it’s a good thing we found it and are able to share it with you here. Its subtitle promises a pretty big return on your investment, after all: How to Create an Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant.

Thanks, Community, for bringing this gem to our attention.

4. A Whole New Mind

What a brilliant addition to our must-read books for PMs!

We’ve read this one ourselves, and honestly, it could easily have displaced a book or two on our original list. Like many of the titles we chose for that first list, this book isn’t strictly speaking about products or product managers. Far from it, in fact.

Author Daniel Pink (if you haven’t heard of him or read his other work, you can think of him as sort of a Malcolm Gladwell type) makes the case here that the economy and society, in general, are already moving toward favoring creative types in more and more areas of life. Indeed, Pink argues that we’re now in a Conceptual Age where creators, storytellers, and empathizers will thrive.

Pink offers some great wisdom in this book for product managers—about using creativity as your differentiator and thinking about your offerings in terms of design elegance, story, and greater meaning for users.

5. Product Management for Dummies

We tend to think that many of the product managers who visit our site, read our blogs, and try our roadmap software are all seasoned product veterans. Not so, of course.

A lot of people find our educational content because they’re new to product management, not sure how to start their first product roadmap, or are just looking for some very basic answers about the product management role. For this type of member of our PM community, a “dummies” book that walks the reader through the basics of product management seems like a must-read.

So, even though the recommendation came from one of its co-authors, this book struck us as a particularly valuable addition to this list. Thanks, Brian!

6. Start With Why

This was a great suggestion, and we actually considered including Simon Sinek’s book on our original 10 must-read list. The only reason we decided against it, in fact, was that we had already written about Sinek’s basic “Why” concept in a blog post about 5 inspirational videos for product managers.

But yes, this book should definitely earn a slot on any PM’s reading list, because it offers a great way of rethinking how you approach your role, your customer, your market, and your products—and how with just a slight change in the order of the questions your team asks itself, you can uncover all sorts of innovative ideas.
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More Great Places Product Managers Can Find Learning and Inspiration

So there you have it: 6 book recommendations directly from your product management colleagues. Add these to our original 10 product management must-reads, and you should have enough content to keep your mind and imagination busy for some time.

But if you’re still searching for content, or if you’re just looking for a jolt of product management inspiration and don’t want to crack open a new book, try these:

If you have other suggestions for great books, podcasts, or videos for product managers, please share them here. We’ll keep rolling your recommendations up into new lists on this blog. And thank you all for your wonderful suggestions!