hand holding books to represent product management books to read

Product Management Books to Read in 2023

“Libraries gave us power” is a lyric from The Manic Street Preachers’ rather apt song “Design For Life” – and they’re right. Books really do give us power. Even in this modern age, whether you prefer your books analog or digital, they hold a wealth of knowledge and insights that allow us to grow.

We’re especially big fans ofproduct management booksthat teach us how to better leverage user insights, create smarter roadmaps, and work better as a Product team. As the creators of an award-winning product management tool,we have some tips on the most inspiring and helpful titles out there!

Our Favourite Books on Product Management

There are many, many, many product management guides online (honestly, we Googled it, and there are 1,930,000,000 results!) However, sometimes it’s best to step away from the screen and just read a book. In a world of pings, dings, and other distractions, books can hold our focus better than reading on your mobile or laptop. And learning and developing your craft, which is worth putting down the device and investing in.

Our list of product management books for 2023 is diverse, inspiring, and unique. It features a whole range of our top favorites, some product management-specific books, and some tomes that are product management aligned. There are guides to help you build a successful product or at least give you the foundations to get started. There are also some fresh takes on the role of product managers in the contemporary world and new ideas about optimizing team performance.

Oh, and trust us, while these books are incredibly helpful, offering practical advice and expert insight, turning theory into practice in the real world of product management, that’s a whole other story. Best to be prepared, though!

Jump to a specific book review!

Inspired - Marty Cagan

INSPIRED MARTY CAGAN

This is our Co-Founder Carlo’s favorite book, and Rapha, our other Co-Founder, simply states, “A classic, can’t deny it. All hail the master, Cagan.” High praise indeed!

The premise of the book is simple – how to make tech products that customers love. Super simple, but that’s really all you need sometimes.

Cagan’s pedigree is strong. A former product leader at eBay, Netscape, and HP, there is no doubt that there is a product you use in your daily life that has been developed in some way by his hand.

The book itself is an excellent read and a must-have for any product manager’s shelf. As one reviewer put it, “It wouldn’t be so sexy or approved by the marketing department, but a more accurate name for this book would be “Product Management 101”. Recommended.

Mastering the Product Manager Interview - Lewis C. Lin

The Product Manager Interview

If you are new to the world of product management and just trying to break into the space, this book has all the answers to nail that interview. No, really, it has ALL the answers – 164, in fact. Interview questions and strategies, behavioral questions, and structured frameworks. You can’t go wrong with this book as it’s an excellent resource for anyone looking to get their foot in the door.

What makesthis bookstand out is that Lin has shared his own experiences from interviewing both sides of the table. And those roles? Well, Lewis was Microsoft’s Director of Product Management. Prior to joining Microsoft, he served as a leader in Google’s AdWords product launches. So, big names. The reviews agree:

Do you want to work in Product in Silicon Valley? You need to read this book. Actually, you need to study this book.

Product Led Growth: How to Build a Product That Sells Itself - Wes Bush

Product Led growth

Written by the founder of the Product-Led Growth community, Bush knows how it’s done in the world of PM. At the very crux of the book is how to build a product that sells itself. Sounds simple, right?

What is also great about this book is that it not only helps you understand how to create a product-led strategy but also how to think about your customer acquisition and retention. Bush, who is a loud voice in the PLG community (as you can imagine!), provides you with the tools needed to rapidly scale your business without needing marketing or sales teams perfect for any PM who wants to show their ideas in action. One of the coolest takes in here is how you can literally save time, energy, money, and effort in development by launching a free trial in 24 hours. Sounds mad, right? But the reviewers absolutely rate it:

Packed with real-world, relevant examples, Wes leverages his considerable experience to deliver a masterclass on planning and executing a PLG strategy.
This is a must-read for SaaS founders and leadership teams. The bible for Product-Led Growth.”

Needless to say, we are big fans at tl;dv; we’re built as a PLG product ourselves!

This is another jumping-off point book that’s also handy to have for getting “back to basics.” The Product Book is a comprehensive guide of how to “do” product management. From start to end, the book offers timelines, advice, guidelines, and more. Readers will be able to find case studies and real-world examples of things, such as identifying and validating product ideas and gathering and prioritizing users’ research and feedback. It also talks as much about mindset as it does about practical knowledge as well.

“Nice, soft, and non-overloaded overview and introduction into the nature of the Product Management life I would recommend it to the people who want all-encompassing knowledge of what a Product Manager does at their job.”

The Product Book: How to Become a Great Product Manager - Product School

The Product Book

This is another jumping-off point book that’s also handy to have for getting “back to basics.” The Product Book is a comprehensive guide of how to “do” product management. From start to end, the book offers timelines, advice, guidelines, and more. Readers will be able to find case studies and real-world examples of things, such as identifying and validating product ideas and gathering and prioritizing users’ research and feedback. It also talks as much about mindset as it does about practical knowledge as well.

“Nice, soft, and non-overloaded overview and introduction into the nature of the Product Management life I would recommend it to the people who want all-encompassing knowledge of what a Product Manager does at their job.”

Atomic Habits - James Clear

Atomic Habits

Ok, this one is a bit leftfield as it’s not strictly product management related. However, the simple concept and its compound results are pretty life-changing when it comes to any business, discipline, activity, or goal.

James Clear’s book takes the concept of small, incremental improvements and shows you how to build them into habits that can lead to major life transformations. It’s also a great allegory for product development. You don’t simply wake up one day and be like, “Hey! Here’s the product that’s going to change everything!”

Small steps, little changes, leveling up your user interview skills, getting smarter with your documentation. By improving just a little bit and getting better each day, you and your product management as a byproduct will improve as time progresses.

It’s a best seller worldwide for a reason, and the reviewers agree: “This is the only book on ‘habits’ you should read.

Lean Start-Up - Eric Ries

The Lean Startup

This book absolutely redefined the way people look at start-ups. Actually, to call it a book is a bit of a cheat. In truth, it’s a collection of blog posts that were then collated into a handy book. However, it still packs a punch and means that even the greenest of product managers can get a foothold with minimal effort.
While it has its limitation as markets develop and gets more competitive, this book should be considered a bit of a cornerstone of modern start-up thinking.

Embracing a customer-centric product management system that centers around experimentation and data analysis has allowed us to revolutionize the way we do business. Reading this will give you a clear insight into the evolution of product management philosophies in the Silicon Age.

The readers’ verdict?
One of the best books for budding entrepreneurs. The book clearly defines what entrepreneurship is all about.”

Deep Work - Cal Newport

Deep Work

Oh man, do we LOVE this book. We love it so much that we wrote a whole blog post on it.

While we truly believe that asynchronous working, and async product development is the future, it’s taking a touch longer for the world to catch up.

For many, we are still stuck in this post-industrialization ideology of work. We chase and seek dopamine and distraction (*COUGH SOCIAL MEDIA COUGH*) and get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff, things, and notifications, which means we spend our working days going around in circles and not getting much done.

Cal’s book is a sanity check. His concept of “Deep Work” is the idea that you focus on one thing and give it your full attention. By doing that, you can get more done in less time than if you had hopped from task to task. That’s immensely powerful for any product manager who struggles with deadlines and has a heavy case of the “modern era.” This book will change your life for sure!

“This is the only book that I would recommend to everyone who wishes to accomplish great (things) professionally. This book explains why it is important to do deep work in today’s times and why it is a critical skill that everyone must cultivate.”

The Mom Test - Rob Fitzpatrick

The Mom Test

If Deep Work is our favorite book, then The Mom Test is ALSO our favorite book. We can have two, right? If you have read any of our content here about the wonderful world of Product Management, then you know we live and breathe Rob’s “Mom Test” knowledge.

Fitzpatrick lays out that using traditional research strategies and questioning users about their opinions and plans are unreliable. The user interview should be guided by asking customers about what they have actually bought, used, and wanted rather than offering hypothetical scenarios and getting close to leading questions. It is groundbreaking but incredibly simple all at once.

The reviewers agree: “If you are a PM, this book should be mandatory reading. It’s filled with practical tips for interviewing customers that will help you get real answers from them.”

Hooked: How To Build Habit-Forming Products - Nir Eyal

Hooked Nir Eyal

We talked about building habits with James Clear. However, Hooked by Nir Eyal puts the shoe on the other foot. Eyals’ book looks at how we can create products that consumers become hooked on. The practicality of using habit-forming loops and triggers to create a product that people will be unable to put down is worth its weight in gold and centers around a four-step process of Trigger, Action, Reward, and Investment.

Now, it may seem that the concept on first glance may not pass the vibe check. We get it. But negative “addiction” connotations aside, a good chunk of the book is dedicated to morals, ethics, and how to implement these responsibly. This isn’t about making people reliant on your products, but more about how you can make products that people won’t want to live without.

The book is well revered in tech, and Eyals’ website features glowing testimonials from the likes of Matt Mullenweg, the Founder of WordPress, and The Next Web Founder Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten. The lesser well-known product management world also rates it too:

“In this book, Nir Eyal provides a simple yet powerful model to help your customers form habits that connect their problems with your solutions再 must-read for everyone who cares about driving customer engagement.”

Empowered: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products - Marty Cagan with Chris Jones

Empowered Marty Cagan

Oh, hello! You again? Well, we did say we LOVE Cagan. Empowered is all about leadership in product management. The book explains why incredible leaders make all the difference in creating and building a fantastic product and, more importantly, how to create and foster that environment. Cagan breaks down the role of a PM, explaining that it is about managing initiatives and enabling and inspiring others to do great work.

This is a must-read if you want to develop your collective mindset for effective leadership in tech. The three core principles that differentiate pioneering companies to how the company views tech, the role at product leaders play, and finally, how the company views the different product teams.

One reviewer states, “Cagan does it again. He sets the bar for no-nonsense advice and guidance in the product space吋here are very few people that I read where I am constantly nodding and saying to myself “couldn’t have said it better,” but Cagan is one of them.”

Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights - Steve Portigal

Interviewing Users

Steve Portigal’s Interviewing Users is a great read if you want to hone your skills in user research. The book details how to ask the right questions, get reliable answers, and use them to build better products. If you’re brand new to user research, it’s a great starting point, along with The Mom Test mentioned above. If you are a more seasoned user researcher, then there’s still plenty for you to dip into and test out. And, added bonus, you can use tl;dv as a user research tool to record, clip, share and continue levelling up your questionnaires and interview techniques.

As one seasoned user researcher said of the book:

“But there’s also a lot for people with more years under their belt. I’ve been conducting interviews and managing research teams for over a decade, and the book gave me lots to reflect on and talk to my colleagues about. We’ll be doing some things differently as a result of reading the book.”

Happy Reading!

There will always be plenty of books to read, guides to digest, and things to learn, and the path of a product manager isn’t always the most linear. However, with the some of the best product management books in your back pocket and a bit of determination and application, you can become or continue to level up as an excellent product manager. The best thing to do is read and try and enjoy the challenge oftaking is as much useful info from product management books as possible, and go make some incredible new products! 予予予予予予予予