The role of the 'project manager' isn't reserved only for those certified in Agile methodologies or even those who have chosen to become project managers. More and more, professionals of all kinds are being asked to wear multiple hats and take on a variety of roles to get projects across the line. This can be stressful, especially if you have little experience or training. But fear not, there are several books out there that can help you increase your effectiveness and work satisfaction as you shoulder these new responsibilities. To save you from time-consuming searches on where to study project management as a beginner, we put together a list of five top project management books. These are praised for their practical value and good style by the project management community or have helped us in our own experience.

*Please note this is a random list, not a ranking. 

1. Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management
by Scott Berkun

Theory aside, let’s get straight to the action. This book is a practical guide on developing your every idea into a successful project. In easy and informal language, Scott Berkun, popular author, blogger, and project management expert, offers tips for various stages of project execution, from project vision to measuring results.

The book begins with the words “My favorite word in the English is how. How does this work? How was this made? How did they do this?” Find the answers to lots of project management “how”s under this cover.

Key takeaways:

  • Field-tested philosophies and strategies behind successful projects
  • Inspiring quotes to post on your desk 

Check out this video of Scott explaining how to cultivate great ideas within your team:


2. The Lazy Project Manager: How to Be Twice As Productive and Still Leave the Office Early
by Peter Taylor

They say lazy men make progress. Curious to know how?

In this book, Peter Taylor, a project management practitioner with 30 years of professional experience, answers this question using the 80/20 rule. To put it simply, this all is about a pleasant ratio of working less while getting more done. You can learn more about Peter’s methods in the interview he gave for the Project Management 2.0 blog by Wrike CEO Andrew Filev.

Key takeaways:

  • Case studies from successful project management practitioners
  • Neat freehand charts summarizing some key points that can be shared with your peers
  • Amusing anecdotes to entertain your colleagues during lunch break

Peter shares some of the specific challenges of dealing with cross-cultural teams in this video:


3. The Plugged-In Manager: Get in Tune with Your People, Technology, and Organization to Thrive
by Terri L. Griffith

Terri L. Griffith, management professor and technology expert, teaches managers how to stay involved in each of the three work dimensions: people, technology and organizational processes. In project management, it’s mission-critical to balance your team, tools and processes. Read the book and discover if you can define yourself as “plugged in.”

Key takeaways:

  • Insight into efficient ways of leveraging technology in team and work management
  • Interesting advice from first-hand interviews with exceptional “plugged-in” leaders

Terri explained why it's critical for managers to be plugged in and ways they can start in this conversation with IBM:


4. Project Pain Reliever: A Just-In-Time Handbook for Anyone Managing Projects
by Dave Garrett

As many as 36 seasoned project managers, including popular authors Peter Taylor, Elizabeth Harrin, Cornelius Fichtner and Wrike CEO Andrew Filev, got together to share solutions for many common project management challenges.

What's the best way to motivate your project team? Where should you start if every task is a "top priority?" This handbook answers these and many other questions, and entertains you with funny project management stories.

Key takeaways:

  • Working solutions for common  project management challenges
  • Expert insights into how to handle situations when a project doesn’t match textbook scenarios

5. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge
by Project Management Institute

A Guide to the Project Management Body of KnowledgeIf you’re into theory, this book might be just what you’re looking for. This is the world's de facto standard guide in project management. In this book, the world’s leading professional association in project management (PMI) provides an essential guide to basic concepts and vocabulary.

Most professionals in project management start their education with this process-based guide to get a complete overview of the sphere and to become better equipped for their project management careers.

Key takeaways:

  • A to Z reference to common project management terminology and knowledge areas
  • Solid basis to get prepared for professional certification

Learn more about the sixth edition of this book here:



Bonus: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
by Charles Duhigg

Finally, we would like to offer a little bonus recommendation: this book might not directly train for project management skills, but it’s the favorite of Wrike’s team for 2012.

Duhigg’s book is based on the idea that understanding people’s habits isn’t just interesting, but extremely practical. And not just in your personal life, but in the business world, too.     

Key takeaways:

  • Techniques for fine-tuning your own habits (work habits included!)
  • How to leverage the power of habit in projects
  • Awareness of things you probably don’t know about yourself

What other books would you recommend to new project managers?

Let us know what you book you think every new project manager should read in the comments below!

Related reads:
The Ultimate Guide to Project Management
23 Project Management Books for All Experience Levels