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10 must-read books for Project Managers

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The best managers — the ones that are really at the top of their game — are always looking for that extra edge to make sure they can run a successful team, create a beautiful product, and get it all done under a deadline.

There are plenty of books on the subject, and we’ve collected ten of the best project management books that can help you take your career to the next level.

In no particular order, here are ten books that every project manager can get something from:

For the project manager who wants a jargon-free guide:

Manage It!: Your Guide to Modern, Pragmatic Project Management

Johanna Rothman’s down-to-earth guide sheds antiquated terms and unnecessary jargon to show you how to combine the best of all existing management methodologies and work within the constraints of the real world to get things delivered on time.

For the stressed-out project manager:

The project manager who smiled: The value of fun in project management

Peter Taylor (of Lazy Project Manager fame) is back with another lighthearted book, this time focused on how fun project management can be — if you let it.

For the project manager working with a project sponsor:

Strategies for Project Sponsorship

Vicki James, Ron Rosenhead, and Peter Taylor joined forces to bring this guide to life, addressing the issue of project sponsorship and the project sponsor’s role from their point of view and the project manager’s point of view.

For the project manager who needs to catch up with social media:

Social Media for Project Managers

Despite the prevalence of social media in today’s world, a lot of professionals can feel a little mystified with what, exactly, is it that they’re supposed to do with it. Elizabeth Harrin’s guide will give you a crash-course on social media and its place in the new world of work (specifically for project managers!).

For the project manager who wants to take their skills to the next level:

Project Management Coaching Workbook: Six Steps to Unleashing Your Potential

If you want to take your project management skills to the next level but you’re lacking a mentor to turn to (or the time to take an extensive course or coaching program), Susanne Madsen’s self-coaching workbook will guide you through the process of creating a career roadmap.

For the project manager who needs an agile & lean refresher:

Agile and Lean Program Management: Scaling Collaboration Across the Organization

Johanna Rothman’s specialty is in distilling project management into understandable, concrete actions and methods you can immediately put to use, and she does that here with Agile and Lean methodologies as they apply to program management.

For the project manager who needs a quick answer:

The Project Management Answer Book, Second Edition

Sometimes you don’t want to google a question and hunt through the pages of results — you just want an answer, now. The Project Management Answer book can come to your rescue, whether you’ve got a question about the day-to-day realities of project management or you have questions about obtaining your PMP certification.

For the project manager who wants some extra psychological insight:

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

Managing a project well involves managing your team members well — and keeping them focused and productive. Having an inside scoop on the secrets of habit-creation and formation (and why it is we behave the way we do) can give you a leg up in that process.

For the brand new project manager:

Project Management Absolute Beginner's Guide (3rd Edition)

This book pretty much does what it says on the cover — gives an introduction to project management principles for absolute beginners. And it’s frequently updated, with the most recent edition being from 2017, so you know you won’t be learning outdated terms or techniques!

For the project manager in the business of software wrangling:

Rapid Development: Taming Wild Software Schedules

A lot of project management practices are the same across industries, but it’s always useful to have an industry-specific guide that talks about the issues in your particular industry and how to avoid the hurdles that can come with them. If you’re in the business of managing software engineering teams, this book does that for you.

Bonus round: The People and Projects Podcast

Susanne Madsen, one of the authors listed above, also highly recommends the People and Projects Podcast. “I’ve listened to countless episodes over the years — my biggest takeaway is probably the importance of continuous learning and reading.”

The host shares something he’s learned every week with the listeners (including often reading new books and summarizing those), and the podcast also puts a strong emphasis on the people-skills side of project management, which Susanne notes is not only just as important, but is often more difficult to master than the “hard” project management skills.

That’s our list of highly recommended project management resources! Now we want to know — what’s on your shelf? Let us know on Twitter.