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16 Best Product Management Books in 2021 [Become a Product Manager NOW]

Best Product Management Books

As you know, products can be hit or miss. I mean… remember LaserDiscs? 💽 With just under 17 million sold worldwide, they had about as much staying power as last week’s tuna noodle casserole…

Now jump ahead to streaming services like:

Streaming services are good products. But in order to be successful, they need to have good Product Managers behind them.

What exactly is a Product Manager?

A Product Manager is responsible for the development of products within an organization. They’re also held accountable for the business strategy behind a product, manage the product launch, and often lead a team.

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TLDR: Best Product Management Books

🔥 Best Overall 🔥
Cracking the PM Career by Gayle Laakmann McDowell

💥 Best for Newbies 💥
Swipe to Unlock: The Primer on Technology and Business Strategy

💸 Best Value 💸
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

Best Product Management Books

1. Cracking the PM Career

Cracking the PM Career is one of the best product management books overall.

↘️ Ideal for: aspiring product managers
↘️
Topics covered: interviewing, skills, frameworks, practices

cracking the pm career by gayle laakman mcdowell book cover with anchor and compass

Cracking the PM Career is by the well-known, kickass author Gayle Laakmann McDowell. She’s best known for her book Cracking the Coding Interview.

Need to prepare for your PM interview? Check out Gayle’s other book Cracking the PM Interview.

In Cracking the PM Career, you’ll learn about reliable frameworks and product management best practices. It covers everything from the product life cycle all the way up to PM careers while focusing on various skills:

  • product
  • execution
  • strategy
  • leadership
  • people management

And much more.

Learn more about Gayle Laakmann McDowell.

You’ll also read over 50 stories from PMs working at places like AirBnB, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.

Cracking the PM Career is ideal for aspiring Project Managers as well as PMs that want to vastly improve their chops. 🥩

People management and career skills in Cracking the PM Career

Learn more about product management with the course Learn Intermediate SQL for Marketers and Product Managers: Codecademy Pro.

2. Product Management’s Sacred Seven

↘️ Ideal for: aspiring Product Managers, PMs that need improvement
↘️
Topics covered: interviewing, product development, data analysis

After interviewing 67 project leads and hiring managers from FAANG companies, the authors of Product Management’s Sacred Seven discovered the most common skills required to become a stellar Product Manager:

  • product design
  • economics
  • psychology
  • user experience
  • data science
  • law & policy
  • marketing & growth

With a blend of case studies, theory and mental models, you’ll learn how to master these Sacred Seven and advance your PM career.

Product Management’s Sacred Seven is ideal for PMs that want to level up their skills. 📶


Want to learn product management basics in a month? Check out the course Learn Product Management: One Month.

3. How to Lead in Product Management

↘️ Ideal for: PMs looking to improve their game
↘️
Topics covered: leadership, decision-making

In How to Lead in Product Management, you’ll discover the core requirements of effective product management:

  • proper leadership
  • building trust
  • decision-making
  • resolving disputes
  • being mindful

And beyond.

With these strategies, you’ll hone in on your skills to be a more respectable Product Manager.

Steve wishes he read this before his first management position:

I wish I’d had this book when I took on my first leadership position…

– Steve Johnson, Product Manager

Learn about digital product management in the course Digital Product Management: Modern Fundamentals: Coursera.

4. Product Management in Practice

↘️ Ideal for: current and aspiring product managers
↘️
Topics covered: real-world tactics, roadmaps, stories

Product Management in Practice focuses on how to build a successful product management practice with these core skills:

  • communication
  • organization
  • research
  • execution

You’ll also learn how to work with executives, set actionable goals and avoid common behavioral traps.

Product Management in Practice is ideal for newer PMs hungry to build a solid foundation in product management. 🍴


Get a very general overview of product management in the course Product Management: Executive Briefing: Pluralsight.

5. The Product Manager’s Survival Guide, Second Edition

↘️ Ideal for: professional Product Managers
↘️
Topics covered: tools, techniques, methods, metrics

The Product Manager’s Survival Guide starts off with a product management acumen assessment which will help you develop your professional PM strategy.

From there, you’ll discover the formula needed to become a successful PM:

  • techniques to become empowered
  • tools to develop product strategies
  • methods to release products
  • metrics to assess the performance of products

And much, much more.

The Product Manager’s Survival Guide is for PMs searching for that winning product management formula. 🎖️



6. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

Hooked is one of the best product management books with a great value.

↘️ Ideal for: PMs, start-up founders, designers
↘️
Topics covered: building habit-forming products

Hooked by Nir Eyal is a how-to guide for building better products.

Based on years of research, consulting and experience, Hooked focuses on building habit-forming products. Using a 4-step process, you’ll learn how to influence customer behavior. And with “hook cycles,” you’ll discover how to keep these customers coming back.

You’ll find plenty of real-world examples such as Twitter, Tinder and Pinterest.

Hooked is ideal for PMs who aim to create habit-forming products. 😊

You’ll read this. Then you’ll hope your competition isn’t reading this. It’s that good.

– Stephen P. Anderson, author of Seductive Interaction Design

🔥 Geena’s Hot Take

While putting together this list of best product management books, Hooked practically jumped off my bookshelf. 🐸

I mean, you’ll learn how successful companies create habit-forming products. Isn’t that what we all want with our own products??

And with Nir Eyal’s four-step Hook Model, you can share in that success, too.



7. The Lean Product Playbook

The Lean Product Playbook is one of the best product management books for lean management. Who’da thunk?

↘️ Ideal for: PMs, entrepreneurs, designers
↘️
Topics covered: strategy, design, methodology

The Lean Product Playbook teaches you how to use Lean Startup to build products that keep customers satisfied. Using step-by-step guidance, you’ll learn how to build successful products. This methodology assists you with determining:

And much more.

The Lean Product Playbook is for Product Managers who want maximum results with the least amount of effort.


Beef up your lean management skills. Enroll in the course Lean Product Management: Educative.io.(Free 7-day trial)

8. Be the Greatest Product Manager Ever

↘️ Ideal for: Product Managers and beyond
↘️
Topics covered: ESTEEM method

Be the Greatest Product Manager Ever focuses almost exclusively on the ESTEEM method of product management:

  • E – execution
  • S – superior communication skills
  • T – tactical awareness
  • E – extraordinary mental toughness
  • E – exceptional team builder
  • M – moonshot vision

You’ll discover everything from how to start a new PM job all the way up to how to sound authoritative and establish your value.

Be the Greatest Product Manager Ever is for Product Managers who want to advance to top positions in the company. 📈


9. SPRINT

↘️ Ideal for: product management teams
↘️
Topics covered: 5-day product testing

SPRINT was written by three Google Ventures partners who came up with sprint, a 5-day problem solving process for products.

Used at over 100 companies, you’ll learn how to solve the most pressing questions in record time:

  • Where do I start?
  • Where should I focus?
  • What will my idea look like?
  • How many meetings will it take?

And beyond.

SPRINT is meant for busy teams who need to accelerate the product production process. 🏎️

Jason found SPRINT helpful for working effectively as a team:

…The book gives a simple idea of how to effectively work as a team, identify areas for improvement, and execute those high value ideas…

– Jason E, Product Manager


10. Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love

↘️ Ideal for: technology Product Managers
↘️
Topics covered: skills, process, culture

Inspired exhibits how FAANG companies deploy their products differently than the vast majority of tech companies. You’ll learn unique structures and customer delivery processes that will put your company ahead of the pack.

Assembling the right skillsets, deploying the right product and having an efficient process are all key in navigating a successful product.

Inspired shares practices and techniques used by some of the most successful companies in tech. 💻

Product creativity process diagram in Inspired


11. The Product Book: How to Become a Great Product Manager

The Product Book is one of the best product management books for beginners.

↘️ Ideal for: Product Manager newbies
↘️
Topics covered: role of a PM

The Product Book takes a practical approach to product management. While heavily focusing on the role of a Product Manager, you’ll learn all about essential requirements from the ground up. By the end of this book, you should have a strong foundation in product management.

The Product Book is based on the curriculum of The Product School where you can get product management certification. 📜



Want to learn more product management basics? Check out the Product Management Basics Learning Track: Treehouse.

12. My Product Management Toolkit

↘️ Ideal for: PMs of small start-ups and large corporations
↘️
Topics covered: strategies, suggestions, methods

My Product Management Toolkit is a comprehensive guide to developing products that your customers won’t be able to pass up. You’ll explore product management through the lens of product evolution, customer analysis and staff management. You’ll discover:

  • strategies to figure out what customers want
  • suggestions for developing products
  • methods to improve product features

And beyond.

My Product Management Toolkit was written by Product Manager Marc Abraham who keeps a product management blog. As a Product Manager, you’ll find all sorts of useful and thought-provoking entries. 🔧


13. Product Leadership

↘️ Ideal for: aspiring and existing Product Managers
↘️
Topics covered: interviews with PMs, best approaches, strategies

Product Leadership presents interviews from almost 100 Product Managers. You’ll explore product management through three concepts:

  • themes and patterns
  • best approaches
  • strategies and tactics

Product Leadership is for PMs who want to understand what drives good product leaders to be successful versus their less-achieved counterparts. 🚀


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

↘️ Ideal for: busy Product Managers
↘️
Topics covered: achieving business goals, solving customer problems

Escaping the Build Trap addresses the faulty product development method that caters to quantity over quality. Instead of churning out products to meet the schedule, you’ll learn how to meet the needs of your customers while also achieving your business goals. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • set up a project to scale
  • build a culture based on successful outputs
  • come up with a product strategy that aligns with your company vision

And much more.

Escaping the Build Trap is for PMs who need to create a better product culture that’s beneficial for both your company and the customer.


15. Swipe to Unlock: The Primer on Technology and Business Strategy

Swipe to Unlock is one of the best product management books for newbies.

↘️ Ideal for: aspiring Product Managers
↘️
Topics covered: business models and strategies, emerging markets, future trends

Swipe to Unlock was written by Product Managers from Google, Microsoft and Facebook. You’ll get answers to product management questions by observing real-world scenarios such as:

  • how Spotify determines what songs to recommend
  • why Amazon offers free shipping even though it loses them money
  • why Microsoft acquired LinkedIn

And beyond.

Some topics covered include business models and strategies, economics, emerging markets and future trends.

Swipe to Unlock is for aspiring Product Managers looking to ace their technical interview. 🧑‍🏫


16. Mastering Product Management: A Step-by-Step Guide

↘️ Ideal for: Product Managers of all levels
↘️
Topics covered: product strategies, managing high-performing teams

Mastering Product Management is a practical guide offering real-world advice on being a successful Product Manager. It follows the complete product life-cycle and serves as a checklist for the core steps PMs need to take. You’ll discover how to:

  • source successful ideas
  • become a market expert
  • manage roadmaps
  • have a successful product launch

And much more.

Mastering Product Management is for PMs of all levels including newbies. It’s meant to be treated as a guide to use throughout your workday. 📚


Best Product Management Books: Conclusion

Today we looked at the best product management books including:

🔥 Best Overall 🔥
Cracking the PM Career by Gayle Laakmann McDowell

💥 Best for Newbies 💥
The Product Book: How to Become a Great Product Manager

💸 Best Value 💸
Product Management’s Sacred Seven

So regardless of your needs or skill level, we think there’s something here for every Product Manager.


Product Managers are also reading:


  1. What does a Product Manager do?

    A Product Manager is responsible for the development of products within an organization. They're also held accountable for the business strategy behind a product, manage the product launch, and often lead a team.

  2. What are the best product management books?

    Our favorite product management book overall is Cracking the PM Career by Gayle Laakmann McDowell. For newbies, we really liked the best-selling Swipe to Unlock. And for value, we chose Product Management's Sacred Seven

  3. Is Cracking the PM Career worth it?

    In Cracking the PM Career, you'll learn about reliable frameworks and product management best practices. It covers everything from the product life cycle all the way up to PM careers while focusing on various skills.

  4. Is Swipe to Unlock worth it?

    We think Swipe to Unlock is worth it. It was written by Product Managers from Google, Microsoft and Facebook. Some topics covered include business models and strategies, economics, emerging markets and future trends.