You only have so many hours in the day, and precious few of them are your free time. So while you want to learn more about project managementeither to pick up new skills or sharpen the ones you’ve already developed you don’t have unlimited hours to read every book on the subject. Which project management books are best for your experience level? Which are actually relevant to the work you do every day? And most importantly, will they put you to sleep mid-sentence? 

While we posted some of our team’s must-read project management books in this article, we’ve since expanded our library with a few new favorites. From project management software professional services to team leadership, take a look and pick up a few to add to your work bookshelf. 

23 Project Management Books for All Levels

Beginners & Accidental Project Managers

project-management-answer-book1. The Project Management Answer Book - Jeff Furman, PMP
This quick reference guide is in question-and-answer format, so you can easily look up solutions to common problems and find the full answers you need right when you need them. This book is also useful as a supplement to formal PMP exam prep.

2. Project Management for Non-Project Managers - Jack Ferraro
This book decodes project management terminology and techniques to make the topic accessible to complete beginners — useful even to experienced managers who simply don’t have formal training in project management and need an intro to the language and theory. 

3. The Fast Forward MBA in Project Management - Eric Verzuh
Project management is a broad field with many different approaches and applications. If you're looking for a thorough yet high-level overview of the discipline, pick up a copy of "The Fast Foward MBA in Project Management." It's used in many graduate-level courses and within larger corporations to train project managers internally.

project-management-absolute-beginners-guide4. Project Management Absolute Beginner's Guide (3rd Edition) - Greg Horine
Covers every aspect of project management, from the responsibilities of project managers to planning and executing the project itself. You'll learn about Work Breakdown Structures, defining a project schedule and budget, controlling deliverables, managing issues and risks, leadership and communication skills, working with stakeholders, and more.

5. Project Management JumpStart - Kim Heldman
For beginners just getting their feet wet (or getting thrown straight into the deep end) this book explains core project management principles in the context of typical issues and real-world scenarios. It also contains an overview of PMBOK, the bible of project management.

6. Project Management Lite: Just Enough to Get the Job Done...Nothing More - Juana Clark Craig
Want a no-frills introduction to basic project management? This book presents the foundation of the field in plain English for those who just want a quick primer before learning more. 

Advanced & Experienced Project Managers

1. Strategic Project Management Made Simple: Practical Tools for Leaders and Teams - Terry Schmidt
Projects fail all the time, whether due to faulty strategies or uncontrollable circumstances. Use the strategies in this book to build a strong project plan that sets your team up for success.

You'll start by asking four questions: What are we trying to accomplish and why? How will we measure success? What other conditions must exist? How do we get there? 

2. Neal Whitten's No-Nonsense Advice For Successful Projects - Neal Whitten
Packed with useful insights, tips, and best practices, Whitten encourages readers to take ownership of their projects in order to distinguish themselves as capable and reliable project managers. Take advantage of Whitten's 30 years of experience to set yourself apart and accelerate your career.

3. The Deadline: A Novel About Project Management - Tom DeMarco
Learn about project management and enjoy a fun read with this fast-paced novel. Follow the story of Tompkins, a project manager who’s kidnapped and presented with an impossible deadline. His solution is unconventional: with a huge staff of software developers at his disposal, he splits them into eighteen teams. Each team uses a different method, testing different project management assumptions and approaches. Pick up tips to effectively manage your projects while enjoying an entertaining page-turner.

the-lazy-project-manager4. The Lazy Project Manager: How to be Twice as Productive and Still Leave the Office Early - Peter Taylor
Laziness is a virtue? Peter Taylor shows how laziness can translate into greater efficiency, increased focus, and better project outcomes. Apply the Pareto principle to find out which 20% of your workday really matters, and learn how to work smarter to achieve sustainable work/life balance and optimum productivity.

5. Rescue the Problem Project: A Complete Guide to Identifying, Preventing, and Recovering from Project Failure - Todd C. Williams, PMP
At some point in your career, you’ll find yourself managing a project that’s floundering. Whether or not you’re able to pull it out of a tailspin is one thing, but learning from what went wrong — and learning from others’ mistakes — is the key to continuous improvement and future success. When you’re in crisis mode, reach for this book to assess the core problems and create an action plan.

6. Project Retrospectives: A Handbook for Team Reviews - Norman L. Kerth
The best project managers make constant improvement a top priority, conducting retrospectives at the end of each project to identify lessons learned. Follow the roadmap Kerth outlines to identify what went well and what you can improve to make your processes and teams even stronger. 

7. Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling (11th Edition) - Harold R. Kerzner
At 1,200 pages, this is not a book you’ll read in one sitting or casually peruse during a quick work break. But it is recognized as an in-depth, go-to reference for all things project management, from measuring project ROI, establishing business justification, managing project sponsorship, and more. 25 case studies in a variety of industries illustrate the principles in real-world situations. When you’re in the middle of a project and a problem arises, reach for this book to find a diagnosis and possible solution.

8. Death March (2nd Edition) - Edward Yourdon
At some point in your career, you’ll be tasked with a “Death March” project: an initiative that's sorely understaffed and underfunded, with unrealistic deadlines. While you won’t be able to completely avoid these types of projects, this book will help you survive them with your sanity intact. By understanding the underlying factors, you can find ways to address the root issues, manage expectations, and alleviate pressure on your team. Although it’s written with IT projects in mind, the principles are invaluable for anyone involved in a “Mission Impossible" project.

Managing IT & Software Development Projects 

1. Rapid Development: Taming Wild Software Schedules - Steve McConnell
Don't be fooled by the title: this book isn't about churning out more lines of code each day. It's about finding best practices for your project to achieve faster results. You'll learn how to avoid common mistakes, wrangle project schedules to make them predictable, and achieve greater control over projects. The last section of the book outlines best practices, along with the risks and benefits of each one, so you can pick and choose which are best suited for your specific situation. 

2. The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition (2nd Edition) - Frederick P. Brooks, Jr.
Author Frederick Brooks Jr. draws from his experience as a project manager at IBM to offer wisdom for leading huge projects and large teams. Although first written in 1975, this newer, expanded version is still considered a classic must-read for anyone managing large projects, especially in IT and software. While the technology Brooks references is outdated, the underlying insights into the common pitfalls of software development and project management remain as relevant as ever. 

waltzing-with-bears3. Waltzing With Bears: Managing Risk on Software Projects - Tom DeMarco & Timothy Lister
Not all risks are bad! Sometimes bigger risks mean greater rewards, and playing it too conservatively means you could be left behind by bolder competitors. On the other hand, being reckless or ignoring possible consequences can mean failure for your project — and your business. This book shows how to identify and take advantage of worthwhile opportunities, recognize common risks, and determine your acceptable level of risk.

4. Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams - Mickey W. Mantle & Ron Lichty
Software developers have a reputation as a quirky bunch, and Mantle and Lichty explain which management strategies will work with developers and why. They'll teach you their tested techniques for managing high-performance and distributed software teams at some of the largest companies in the nation and share what worked and what didn't. 

Leadership & Management Techniques 

1. Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams (3rd Edition) - Tom DeMarco & Tim Lister
With a perceptive look into the how and why behind personal motivation, DeMarco and Lister share tips for assembling a great team and making the most of their time and talents. Rather than defining managers as overseers, DeMarco and Lister stress that a successful manager's main job is removing barriers to productivity so their teams can excel.

five-dysfunctions-of-a-team2. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable - Patrick Lencioni
Telling the story of a newly-appointed startup CEO and her troubled executive team, this book outlines 5 common disruptive team dynamics: Absence of Trust, Fear of Conflict, Lack of Commitment, Avoidance of Accountability, and Inattention to Results. You’ll probably recognize bits of yourself and your team in the story, and you’ll find steps and strategies for improving your teamwork.

3. The Essential Drucker: In One Volume the Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker's Essential Writings on Management - Peter F. Drucker
Nearly ten years after his passing, Peter Drucker is still famous as a leading management expert. This title collects what the man himself considered his essential teachings. Get Drucker’s take on making good management decisions, the difference between efficiency and effectiveness, focusing on contributions over results, and more classic leadership advice.

4. Berkshire Beyond Buffett: The Enduring Value of Values - Lawrence A. Cunningham
How do you become a great leader and establish a company culture where success is sustainable? This book looks at Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet’s $300 billion conglomerate, to show how managers can generate real economic worth from abstract values like frugality, integrity, drive, and independence.

5. Crystal Clear: A Human-Powered Methodology for Small Teams - Alistair Cockburn
Author Alistair Cockburn understands that successful projects come primarily from people, not methodologies or tools. Although the book is on Crystal Clear, a lightweight software development methodology, this book also focuses on how to set up and support your team so they can do their best work. In addition to providing an Agile roadmap, this book will teach you how to free your projects from heavy processes that slow you down and ransack your budget.

What's on your bookshelf? 

Share the titles you've found most valuable in your project management career in the comments!

Tip: If Amazon happens to be your bookseller of choice, try ordering your new books through Amazon Smile. Amazon will donate a portion of the price of your items to a charity of your choice. 

6 Best Books for New Project Managers

Read next:
5 Best Project Management Books for Beginners and Accidental PMs
15 Books Every Manager Should Read
The Ultimate Guide to Project Management

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