best books for project managers to read

What Project Managers Were Reading in 2018

We asked project managers to reveal which books have kept them occupied for the last months. The responses varied from project management classics written by Eliyahu M. Goldratt to the story behind Disney’s animated film “Up.” You’ll find over sixty books read by project managers from all over the world.


Susan McIsaac, PMP, ITIL, Board Director at PMI Toronto

Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown

Kiron Bondale, Senior Project Management Consultant at World Class Productivity Inc.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

Daryl Uhrin, Project Manager at Standard Machine

Under One Roof by Barry Martin and Philip Lerman

United States

Barbara Chatzkel, President at New River Group, LLC

New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World–And How to Make It Work for You by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms.

The age of unprecedented connectivity is an age of new power. Not only does the book explain the “what” is happening, it also provides valuable “how” explanations of how to use the new power today. A good read.

Gregory Christensen, Project Director at GlaxoSmithKline

Assholes: A Theory by Aaron James

Markham Beverly, Project Coordinator at PwC

Developing the Leader Within You 2.0 by John C. Maxwell

Jenell White, Senior Project Manager at Fiserv, Inc.

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg

In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs by Grace Bonney

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

I mentioned the last book not because it’s about business, but about life and time. Often as project managers it is imperative for ourselves and our teams to remember that there is more to life than work and to remind our teams to truly disconnect and/or appreciate the small things/ accomplishments.

Brenda Peschel, Project Manager at State Farm

Tribal Unity: Getting from Teams to Tribes by Creating a One Team Culture by Em Campbell-Pretty

Paridhi Singh, IT Project Manager at Freedom Mortgage

The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle

Valorie Anderson, CV Section Head Manager and Data Manager at BAE Systems

Sachin Shah, Strategic Planning Coordinator at FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

I’ve been thinking a lot about the actual small changes my project asks people to make – open the new application instead of the old one — and the big changes. I’ve began identifying behavioral requirements that functional and technical requirements have to support.

Bob Tarne, Agile Coach and Public Speaker

Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy by Amy C. Edmondson

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Maribel Canino, Experienced IT Professional and former Project Manager

Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland

Suzanne Dunn, Project Manager at Suzanne Dunn Consulting

The Outward Mindset: Seeing Beyond Ourselves by The Arbinger Institute

The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict by The Arbinger Institute

Fred Massabki, Managing Engineer at Anchor QEA

The New Alpha: Join the Rising Movement of Influencers and Changemakers Who are Redefining Leadership by Danielle Harlan

The Art of Persuasion: How to Influence People and Get What You Want by Juliet Erickson

Stefania Forner, Project Manager for the UCI Alzheimer Disease Modeling Project

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell


Eric Adrián Ramírez Corona, Project Manager and Facilitator for Innovation at Autónomo, Mexico

The High-Impact PMO: How Agile Project Management Offices Deliver Value in a Complex World by Philippe Husser

Straight-Line Leadership: Tools for Living with Velocity and Power in Turbulent Times by Dusan Djukich

Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It…and Why the Rest Don’t by Verne Harnish

David Levine, Project Manager at Sunpower

Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio

Tim Jerome, Project Management, Advisor, Consultant

The Leadership Pipeline: How to Build the Leadership Powered Company Hardcover by Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter, James Noel

The book gives one a great framework for leadership development, that goes beyond just ‘here’s what a leader does.’


Rodrigo Baccaro, Executive Coach and Team Coach

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

It is a fairly complete story about the origin of homo sapiens to this day. It is a book with excellent common sense, a lot of depth in historical details and a clarity that allows us to understand the why of our days.


Paulo de Tarso Bittencourt Cunha, Project Manager at Mais2X

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari


Oldane Graham, Project Management Consultant

The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win by Gene Kim

United Kingdom

Toby Quirk, Project Manager at Taylor Wimpey

The Obstacle is the Way: The Ancient Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage by Ryan Holiday

The reason I have enjoyed this book so much is that we, as project managers, face new and difficult obstacles on an almost daily basis and this book provides real tips and strategies to allow the reader to see the advantage in every unforeseen situation that occurs and particularly those that seem problematic.

Reece Bowman, Programme Lead at Capita

The Silent Deep: The Royal Navy Submarine Service Since 1945 by James Jinks and Peter Hennessy

The sections on the coordination and programme management required to develop and put to sea our nuclear deterrent in the 1960s are particularly relevant. Close military and industrial collaboration with the United States against the strategic backdrop of an escalating cold war with the Soviet Union. Political controversy with the Labour Party stance on the deterrent – it’s probably one of the biggest, most significant and difficult programmes we’ve delivered as a nation.

Sue Slater, Change Management and Local Government Consultant

Agile Change Management: A Practical Framework for Successful Change Planning and Implementation by Melanie Franklin


Daniela Villarroel, Project Engineer at 3M

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About The World by Hans Rosling


Nataliya Hromova, Project Manager at HYS Enterprise

The Art of Systems Thinking by Joseph O’Connor and Ian McDermott — to improve your problem-solving skills.

Management 3.0 Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders by Jurgen Appelo — about healthy, sensible and down-to-earth management.

Peopleware. Productive Projects and Teams by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister — if you think “people first” as it really is.

Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision Making by Sam Kaner — how to lead the groups to the best decisions.


Adrian Zamfirescu, Administrative Manager at Tiriac Auto

NLP at Work: The Essence of Excellence by Sue Knight

Paid to Think: A Leader’s Toolkit for Redefining Your Future by David Goldsmith

The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action by Jeffrey Pfeffer & Robert Sutton


Anton Tsvetkov, VP of Project Management in Financial Technology Industry

Never Split the Difference by Christopher Voss and Tahl Raz

The book explains great and very applicable principles or tools used by professional hostage negotiators supplied with real life examples.

Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni

An easy reading yet highlighting some fundamental team-building principles.

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by Chris Fussell, David Silverman, Stanley A. McChrystal, and Tantum Collins

The book respects existing challenges of large organizations and provides a view of how it all should work together.


Anil Sharma, Project Manager at BT Telecommunications

The Power of Project Leadership by Susanne Madsen

It’s an end-to-end practical guide shared from 20 years of experience. The book is exhaustive in every practical sense from People, Programme, and Project Management to successful Delivery perspective.

Vishwas Mahajan, Founder of the Enterprise Project Management Suite at Whizible

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling

As Project Managers there are so many biases we can steer clear of and these books open our perspectives.

Prabhat Pant, Associate Director at PwC India

Solving Tough Problems: An Open Way of Talking, Listening, and Creating New Realities by Adam Kahane


Steve Robson, VP of Project Management at TRIPATRA

Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman


Vahid Farahdoust, Project Manager at Dana Energy

The CEO Difference: How to Climb, Crawl, and Leap Your Way to the Next Level of Your Career by Debra A. Benton

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Payam Ghanavati, Technical Manager at Aria Civil

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek.


Khadija Saeed, Senior Project Manager at

The Startup Way: How Modern Companies Use Entrepreneurial Management to Transform Culture and Drive Long-Term Growth by Eric Ries

This book will help you inculcate entrepreneurial management skills in project management for transforming culture and driving growth in an organization.


Emmanuel Iziomoh, Programme Officer at Riplington Education Initiative

Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle by Dan Senor and Saul Singer

It postulates unconventional approaches to solving real problems, a skill every Project Manager should possess. One of the most important thing of this book is the power of imagination, it is absolutely free. Most of the time, as Project Managers, we don’t need to see to believe. All we have to do is to imagine it and believe.

South Africa

Doug Kirchmann, Project Management Consultant at ProjectLink

Social Media for Project Managers by Elizabeth Harrin

The Power of Time Perception: Control the Speed of Time to Slow Down Aging, Live a Long Life, and Make Every Second Count by Jean Paul Zogby

How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business by Douglas W. Hubbard.


Pete Adams, Senior Project Manager at Innodev Pty Ltd

The Founder’s Mentality by Chris Zook

The value for me was finding the ‘sweet spot’ of just enough governance to get the job done without losing the company’s agile edge. It also stresses the importance of maintaining a founder’s vision throughout the project life cycle. A great book for any expanding business, particularly in the consulting realm.

Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey A. Moore

I have a strong interest in innovation (blockchain in particular), so it’s been a valuable resource in terms of the challenges of bringing change to the masses; a vital aspect of delivering successful projects.

Brett Seriani, Senior Project Manager at CommTel Network Solutions

The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less by Richard Koch

Deeksha Rastogi, PMO Manager

Project Management Metrics, KPIs, and Dashboards: A Guide to Measuring and Monitoring Project Performance by Harold Kerzner

New Zealand

Shane Riley, Capital Project Manager at Dairy Goat Co-operative

The Conscious Project Leader: How to Create a Culture of Success for Your Projects, Your Team and Yourself by Collin D. Ellis

The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness by Steve Peters

The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier

The article does not intend to promote or advertise any of the above-mentioned books. It’s based on real feedback from project managers collected via the following LinkedIn Group discussions:

Discussion 1 in The Project Manager Network – #1 Group for Project Managers

Discussion 2 in PMI Project, Program and Portfolio Management: #1 group for career advancement.

Also, you might want to have a look at Elizabeth Harrin’s review of project management books or check these 5 new books to succeed as a digital project manager.

Anything missing? You’re a project manager who couldn’t make it to tell the world about a favorite book of yours? Leave it below in the comments section and we’ll make sure that it becomes the part of our list.

*The countries are sorted in no particular order. 

Illustration: Copyright © Zhenya Oliinyk


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Emmanuel Iziomohreply
September 5, 2018 at 8:53 AM

Well done…Iryna

September 5, 2018 at 9:01 AM
– In reply to: Emmanuel Iziomoh

Thank you, Emmanuel. I’m glad you liked it.

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