5 product management books to read in 2019

Elad Simon Published: 07 Jan 2019 Updated: 29 May 2023
Office with computer and books on shelves

Nothing compares to the value of opening yourself to inspiration by reading what others working in your field have to say. Looking up from your work to learn and stay updated on current trends is immensely important. New ideas don’t just pop into your head during meetings, you need to invest in seeking them out.  And yet, taking the time to browse new titles is one of those things that always seems to get pushed to the bottom of the list. In a world of stressing deadlines and constant multitasking, actually sitting down to do “nothing but reading” takes some special effort.

Man drinking coffee while reading a book

This year, I hope to take more time to explore professional literature and invest in broadening my horizons. To make sure I follow up on this decision, I did some research and compiled a list of the books that I intend to start with. So here are the volumes on product management and its various aspects that are waiting in my e-reader:

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

Nir Eyal is an entrepreneur and investor with years of product development under his belt. His book is a practical guide for creating better products. As such, it deals with the collisions of technology, design, and psychology, in an attempt to de-code how products influence our behavior. At the center of this work is the so-called `Hook Model` -the process in which companies use design to subtly encourage their customers to return. In this way, products reach their ultimate goal of bringing users back again and again without depending on costly advertising or aggressive messaging.
This book has been called `a must` for everyone building or marketing products and is featured on pretty much any reading list out there, so I’m definitely going to start 2019 with it.

Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love

Another obligatory reading often mentioned by bloggers and reviewers is this title by thought leader Marty Cagan. It aims to provide readers with a blueprint to building and staffing a flourishing product organization and deliver a successful product. The first edition came out 10 years ago and was quickly considered a handbook for product managers. The new edition came out just a year ago, so it’s interesting to see how it was updated to include everything that happened in tech since then.

Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager

Many books on software development ignore the human element of the process focusing instead on technology or the sole brilliance of a genius entrepreneur. So the candidly phrased title of this work immediately attracted me. I was further intrigued by a review that mentioned that the author, Michael Lopp, describes managers as “a strange breed of people who through a mystical organizational ritual have been given power over your future and your bank account”. So many academic works approach management as a science that can be broken down to numbers, that’s it’s frankly refreshing to see it treated as first and foremost the result of human relationships.

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People

Another title focusing on the intersection of psychology and design, this book promises to be a fascinating read. I was immediately curious after just flipping through the list of chapters with titles like “people imagine objects tilted and at a slight angle above” (wait, what?) or “red and blue together are hard on the eyes” (there goes my whole wardrobe). As the book is constructed as a list of short and focused essays, it promises to be perfect for a short reading break during the workday.

Drinking coffee and reading a book

Make Time: How to focus on what matters every day

Let’s face it, productivity is a big issue for anyone living in the modern world. We’ve talked before on this blog about techniques to make your day more efficient and there is a such a multitude of books on this subject, that reading them will certainly not make you more productive. Despite this, I was drawn to this book, because it promised time management advice written by non-super-humans. Furthermore, as it was written by two product designers, it approaches increasing personal productivity as any other design process – an interesting angle that is sure to strike a cord for anyone in this field.

Comprising this list has definitely motivated me to read more this year and I can’t wait to get through these and take in the unique outlook of each author. What essential titles would you recommend that I include in my next list? Let us know in the comments section or on our Facebook page which books have been professional eye openers for you.

Elad Simon
Elad Simon

CEO & Co-Founder, craft.io