Reading List for a New PM
I occasionally get asked for reading recommendations by new or aspiring PMs. This is a bit like asking for books on art, hoping to become an artist: while it helps to know a few principles, practice will get you much farther. The situations and challenges you face as a PM are so diverse, the right decisions end up being driven much more by instinct and experience than application of principle.
That said, there are two categories of books (and articles) I’ve found useful:
- Fundamentals: frameworks and checklists that demystify the basics of product management, and provide reference points when you’re stuck.
- Mind expanders: books that make you think about the world in a different way, expand your perception of what’s possible, or connect your thoughts about product development to other disciplines, like Psychology.
Over the years I’ve collected a list of these, and it’s about time that I post it here. There are lots of Product Management reading lists out there. This is not intended to be an exhaustive collection of resources; it’s just the bits and pieces that had the most impact on me.
- Inspired. [essential foundational material]
- Don’t Make Me Think [lightweight but worth it]
- Good PM, Bad PM (classic)
- Quora quora quora. So much good stuff here. Just start somewhere and browse.
- What distinguishes the Top 1% of Product Managers from the Top 10%?
- Why are product managers necessary? What piece of the puzzle do they fill in that a team of engineers and an engineering lead does not?
- … etc. – look at “Related Questions” and also browse the “Product Management”/“Product Development”/“Product Managers” categories and just search for questions you have.
- Ian McCallister’s Blog (super well respected Amazon product leader (now at Airbnb) with tons of great stuff on Quora too)
- 42 Rules to Lead by from the Man Who Defined Google’s Product Strategy
- How Pinterest Drives Sustainable Growth
- UX Crash Course: User Psychology
- Google Ventures Library
- Zero to One. [entrepreneurship focus with tons of lessons for pm]
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things. [more about leadership than pm, but a great read for a pm]
- The Innovator’s Solution. [the first half is the best; skip the notes]
- Influence [psychology is powerful]
- Thinking Fast and Slow [long but good]
- Some stuff on my future reading list:
- The Design of Everyday Things
- Designing with the Mind in Mind
- About Face
Reading can only get you so far. Mastery requires practice. Find a way to apply these skills: if you’re starting out as a PM, pick an area and focus on improvement. If you’re trying to make the leap, start a project where you can put some of these skills to work. This isn’t just the best way to master Product Management, it’s also the way potential employers will evaluate you.