17 Best Project Management Books (Must Read for Project Managers)

Updated Aug 3, 2022.
project-management-books

With new trends, techniques, and best practices in project management, project managers need to increase their knowledge of new and unique trends in their industry. 

You risk staying out of touch with the most effective and modern techniques and best practices if you do not seek to improve your project management knowledge. 

Learn from the practical advice of others with a better experience and eye-catching success stories managing the five phases of the project life cycle to become a better project manager.  

You can either learn by enrolling for project management certifications or reading project management books. 

This article will show the best project management books for beginners, non-project managers, and project managers.

Let’s get started.

1. Alpha Project Managers by Andy Crowe

Best Project Management Book for Senior Management

Alpha Project Managers by Andy Crowe

Alpha Project Managers by Andy Crowe is a good read for project managers and others in senior management who want to improve their project management skills and knowledge. 

Crowe’s project management book discusses ‘what the top 2% knows that everyone else does not.’ 

‘Alpha Project Managers’ is one of the best project management books with quality information on how to handle complex projects and how to prevent project failure.

Unlike some project management books that are hard to read, the author broke down every vital information that puts the best managers ahead of their peers. 

His book debunks many generally accepted notions of the best project managers. He believes that the best project managers do not send thousands of emails daily or spend the whole day in meetings, unlike what many believe.

This book is best for you if you need to boost your project management skills and knowledge!

2. The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

Best for Beginners

The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

The ONE Thing is one of the best project management books for beginners and non-project managers that are managing projects.

If you are looking for a book with a more pragmatic approach to decluttering your work and managing projects, ‘The ONE Thing' is for you. 

This project management book teaches you how to create momentum with careful planning that helps individuals and teams to achieve their goals. You will learn how to get more work done within a short time – and even in a less stressful environment.

Gary's book's unique selling point (USP) is its simplicity. The book's key concepts elaborate on narrowing down into a niche and focusing on One Thing at a time instead of multitasking.

You become more efficient when you focus your energy on One Thing. It allows you to put your time and effort into becoming a master in it.

Apart from making you more productive, the book communicates with the readers in a Q & A way where you are directly asked questions relating to your plans to achieve your goals and the time frame. 

If you are managing projects and feeling overwhelmed or battling project failure, this book is for you.

3. A Guide to Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) by Project Management Institute (PMI)

Best for Passing Project Management Certification Exams

A Guide to Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) by Project Management Institute (PMI)

Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) guide is globally recognized as the universal guide for project management principles.

This book by the Project Management Institute (PMI) is one of the most recommended project management books for people that occupy project manager roles in any firm/company.

PMBOK is an authoritative and all-encompassing guide containing the necessary knowledge every project manager needs to get started. 

This project management guide covers the key methodologies and terminologies associated with project management, such as work breakdown structures (WBS), scrum, critical path method (CPM), SAFe, PERT, Kanban, Gantt, and waterfall.

Reading the PMBOK is necessary to excel in the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam. Since it is necessary for an exam, the language is academic.

If you are a project manager that wants to gain knowledge and pass a certification exam like the PMP exam, then PMBOK is the book for you.

4. Project Management for Humans: Helping People Get Things Done by Brett Harned

Best for New Project Managers

Project Management for Humans - Helping People Get Things Done by Brett Harned

‘Project Management for Humans’ is one of the best project management books that target project managers in the early years of their careers. 

This book target professionals who require knowledge in a more personalized way to help them understand sophisticated theories and ideas. 

PMBOK might be too educational for some people, which is why this book is a top pick for people just getting into project management.

‘Project Management for Humans’ combines practical steps, technical know-how, personal stories, and tactical pieces for project managers. 

Brett Harned, the author, employed the experience he gained from working with a team of project managers at different companies to analyze the concept of project management. 

The unique selling point of this book is the provision of project management skills; not every book has that.

This book is a top choice because it is easier to relate to the personal essays used to explain the various project management concepts instead of skimming through theories. 

If reading bores you easily, you can go for this.

5. The Lazy Project Manager: How to be Twice as Productive and Still Leave the Office Early by Peter Taylor

Best for Absolute Beginners

The Lazy Project Manager by Peter Taylor_

‘The Lazy Project Manager’ is one of the best project management books for beginners. This book is for you if you learn well with diagrammatic representations, illustrations, and anecdotes. 

Peter Taylor, the author, is a distinguished project management guru with many years of experience. He uses simple explanations to break down the complex project management aspects.

You cannot pour from an empty cup, which is why it is not a myth that Taylor’s book is one of the best in project management. 

With his years of experience, you can tell that the insights from his book ensure productivity, emotional intelligence, and efficacy. Many successful people highlight how lazy they are even after achieving so much, making people wonder how.

If you do not have the workaholic trait, this book explains how you can still be productive without working your ass off round the clock. 

Another advantage is the use of anecdotes and illustrations, making lessons stick longer than normal. Do you love diagrams and anecdotes? This book is for you.

6. Project Management Absolute Beginner’s Guide by Gregory Horine

Best for Project Management Novices

Project Management Absolute Beginner’s Guide by Gregory Horine

Project management absolute beginner’s guide is for individuals performing project management roles with no project management training. 

This book is not a perfect substitute for training, but it is one of the best resources for beginners who have self-doubt. Anyone new to practical project management can feel more confident after using this book.

Horine’s book covers the phases of the project life cycle, project development, and other core concepts. The comprehensive guide style employed by the author gives value for money. It has illustrations to highlight key tips, great insights, caution, and complete information.

The teaching style presents the book in a practical and easy-to-read manner, making it appear like a live instructor is in front of you. 

Suppose you did not go through formal project management training and want to deliver successfully in your first few tasks as a project manager. In that case, Project management absolute beginner’s guide is a must-read for you.

7. Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager by Kory Kogon, Suzette Blakemore, James Wood

Best Guidebook for the Unofficial Project Manager

Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager by Kory Kogon, Suzette Blakemore, James Wood

Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager is one of the best project management books for people serving in the project manager’s capacity without experience.

Organizations may occasionally assign a project manager’s role to a non-project manager. If you are that person, this book will be your companion. 

The authors cooked this piece for people getting started in project management. This book covers the basics from the project initiation phase to execution and sign-off.

You can easily understand this book because the project management languages used are not too complex for newbies. 

There are real-life examples and scenarios illustrated in a simple way to make explanations stick and help you know how things play out in real-time.

This book helps employees who single-handedly handle projects to avoid missed deadlines. Following the guide will put you through successfully tackling the projects while juggling other work. 

There are helpful tips for people that organize a team for the sake of a project. If you pick the ‘unofficial’ person in the team to handle project management, this book will be helpful to them.

8. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

Best Leadership Book for Managers

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team' is one of the best leadership books every project manager should read. Beyond the use of excellent project management software and good strategy, everyone needs efficient human assets to carry out projects successfully. 

Unlike many other project management books, Patrick Lencioni highlights the importance of having the right people supervising the project in his book. The book covers the basics and is very compelling.

His unique selling point is using powerfully compelling stories to discuss the areas where most project managers and their teams fail. 

The five dysfunctions of a team is a quick read and easy for someone who manages projects to implement the ideas in it. Lencioni's book is a great asset if a project manager wants to improve their team dynamics.

Using good project management software and strategy is essential as a project manager. But if you discover that you do not get the best out of the projects you supervise, this project management book will open your mind to your team's fault.

9. What the Heck is EOS? by Gino Wickman and Tom Bouwer

Best for Learning Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS)

What the Heck is EOS by Gino Wickman and Tom Bouwer

‘What the Heck is EOS?’ is another book that explicitly focuses on a target audience. It is an easy-to-follow guide for project management teams who find it hard to incorporate the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) into their companies/firms. 

Gino and Tom’s book answers basic questions about operating systems, what EOS comprehensively entails, why companies use EOS, and its advantages.

Like other books that made it to this list, the authors explained their content without being fluffy. They broke down the concept of EOS into a basic language to make it understandable for both beginners and professionals. 

People in the marketing and design team can read the book and understand EOS perfectly. It contains summaries for people that skim books, practical advice, and helpful tips on improving creativity, getting feedback, and identifying constraints. 

If your company runs on EOS, this is the best book for you.

10. The Fast Forward MBA in Project Management by Eric Verzuh

Best for Project Management Professionals

The Fast Forward MBA in Project Management

The Fast Forward MBA in Project Management provides comprehensive coverage to help project managers deliver successful tasks within budget before deadlines. 

The author focuses on giving practical guides by explaining how to find the right sponsor, build a comprehensive budget, set schedules, identify the vital human assets, and win their hearts over for cooperation. 

This book is highly recommended for students and beginners in the project management industry because of the comprehensive introduction that precedes the main content. 

Eric Verzuh’s book is indispensable for professionals handling multiple projects simultaneously. The author used real-life examples, practical templates, and PMP question samples that contributed to its practical guide.

An aspect of the book focuses on soft skills like effective communication, team management, and good leadership skills, which are values needed by project team members. 

If you want a book with an extensive explanation of core concepts and progressive chapters, this piece in the Fast Forward MBA series is for you.

11. Strategic Project Management Made Simple: Practical Tools for Leaders and Teams by Terry Schmidt

Best for Digital Project Management 

Strategic Project Management Made Simple by Terry Schmidt

Strategic Project Management Made Simple provides comprehensive coverage to help project managers deliver successful tasks within budget before deadlines. 

The author focuses on giving practical guides by explaining how to find the right sponsor, build a comprehensive budget, set schedules, identify the vital human assets, and win their hearts over for cooperation. 

This book is highly recommended for students and beginners in the project management industry because of the comprehensive introduction that precedes the main content. 

Eric Verzuh’s book is indispensable for professionals handling multiple projects simultaneously. The author used real-life examples, practical templates, and PMP question samples that contributed to its practical guide.

An aspect of the book focuses on soft skills like effective communication, team management, and good leadership skills, which are values needed by project team members. 

If you want a book with an extensive explanation of core concepts and progressive chapters, this piece in the Fast Forward MBA series is for you.

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

Best for Learning Scrum

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

‘Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time’ covers project management basics such as planning projects with the Scrum framework. 

Sutherland wrote this wonderful book for project managers that adopt the Scrum methodology or managers that want to improve their team leadership skills. 

The author is not just the creator of the scrum method. He is also one of the contributors to agile methodology. In this book, he thoroughly focuses on managing the scrum team in an Agile manner.

Unlike random guides on the internet, which fix part problems because of shallow analysis, Sutherland uses real-world examples, research, and survey results to explain the merits of adopting the scrum methodology in project management. 

This project management book explains how to use scrum and why it is the best method for every project manager looking to develop good managerial skills.

If you want a project management book that shows you the downsides of using the traditional workplace culture in your team and gives you a better alternative, this Scrum book is for you. 

To develop a Scrum team, you should get this great resource.

13. Industrial Megaprojects by Edward W. Merrow

Best for Construction Managers and Engineers

Industrial Megaprojects by Edward W. Merrow

‘Industrial Megaprojects' target the construction industry.

Many project management books focus on the corporate work setting or software industry. In these books, the manager comes up with a plan, forwards it to another department, and everything is sorted out without leaving the office room. 

Only a few books give resources (including free resources) that benefit construction managers and engineers. 

The author of this book focuses on the project's domains that involve analytical and technical skills like chemical and nuclear plants, oil rigs, and construction sites. 

Large-scale projects require meticulous planning because the consequences of failure may be colossal. In this book, the author translated his many years of experience in the industry into a conversational piece.

‘Industrial megaprojects' is beneficial to any project manager that majored in engineering but lacked the necessary project management skills.

You can still apply the insights to other projects even with the book's specificity on large industrial projects.

14. Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling by Harold Kerzner

Best for Students

Project Management - A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling by Harold Kerzner

‘Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling’ is an excellent guidebook for project management undergraduate and graduate students. 

The luxury of materials in it makes it beneficial to newbies and professionals in the industry. Harold’s book extensively talks about basic PM knowledge, principles, processes, and quality management.

This book addresses the relationship between quality management and productivity. The insights are applicable, whether it is in the healthcare, engineering, production, or construction industry. Harold’s book discusses key skills, including communication and leadership.

15. Doing Agile Right: Transformation Without Chaos by Darrell Rigby, Sarah Elk, and Steve Berez

Best for Learning Agile Project Management

Doing Agile Right - Transformation Without Chaos by Darrell Rigby, Sarah Elk, and Steve Berez

‘Doing Agile Right: Transformation Without Chaos’ is a comprehensive book for learning agile project management.

Many people in the project management industry know about the benefits of Agile methodology, but not many managers know how to enjoy these benefits. 

This book by Harvard Business Review Press explains the power of Agile when you apply it appropriately. 

‘Doing Agile Right’ addresses the common misconceptions that most managers have about the Agile methodology. Some managers believe that Agile is not the best solution for companies that have organizational problems. 

Essentially, this book is for people not getting the right results from using agile project management methodology. It shows you the aspects you are getting wrong, the problems Agile will be the best to solve, and how to scale the Agile techniques within your team. 

This book helps project teams to stay innovative even while maintaining optimum productivity.

16. Getting Things Done by David Allen

Best for Personal Productivity

Getting Things Done by David Allen

Getting Things Done is one of the best project management books anyone can get for personal productivity. 

David Allen provides a hack for stress-free productivity and is popular for sharing insights on how you can become more productive as an individual or as a team. 

Allen’s ‘Getting Things Done’ method breaks down the tasks in your head into an organized system.

The first step is to get these tasks out of your head into writing. It makes your head feel light and gives you the creative ability to organize yourself properly. Creative thinking, in turn, allows you to make better decisions. 

This book contains a pragmatic approach to setting and scheduling tasks, building structures, and organizing your routine to make you feel less stressed and more productive.

If you are a project manager overwhelmed by stress and can not deal with it anymore, this is the right book for you. This book teaches you to do twice the work in half the time.

17. Driving Digital Strategy: A Guide to Reimagining Your Business by Sunil Gupta

Best for Business Managers

Driving Digital Strategy - A Guide to Reimagining Your Business by Sunil Gupta

‘Driving Digital Strategy: A Guide to Reimagining Your Business’ is one of the best project management books that contain effective digital strategies for managing problem projects. 

Adaptation is a key attribute in project management that must be present in every team. A project team must be flexible enough to adapt to changes quickly. 

Gupta’s book talks about why he believes companies should be open to the idea of transformation and rebranding, especially when the world is moving to the digital age.

There are a lot of real-life examples in this book, including how the New York Times expanded its operations and leveraged the internet for its online platform. Sunil Gupta talks about how individuals who do crude jobs allowed innovation into their work and rebranded. 

His examples emphasize how some businesses would have crashed without moving along with the digital age. These lessons he learned from studying Fortune 500 companies. 

This book will teach you how to tailor your business model and projects to the forefront of the digital age with up-to-date innovations and ideas. 

If you struggle to craft a digital roadmap for your business, you should get this book.

Which Project Management Book Should You Read?

Every project management book has its unique selling point. When a project turns out bad, the fault can come from the team, the plan, the methodology, and many more. Each of these books focuses on specific faults in a mediocre project plan and how you can correct the faults.

If your team has loopholes affecting the turnout of your projects and you do not even know what the loopholes may be, consider reading these books. Choose project management books that resonate with your experience and needs.

Anastasia Belyh

Editor at FounderJar

Anastasia has been a professional blogger and researcher since 2014. She loves to perform in-depth software reviews to help software buyers make informed decisions when choosing project management software, CRM tools, website builders, and everything around growing a startup business.

Anastasia worked in management consulting and tech startups, so she has lots of experience in helping professionals choosing the right business software.