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Best Project Management Books

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Project management is critical for companies of all sizes. Perhaps not as much for mom-and-pop shops (though it wouldn’t hurt to learn). A lot depends on its quality and more and more companies are investing serious money and time to educate and grow top-notch PMs.

If you’re looking to sharpen your PM skills and take your company to the next level, there are many ways to go about it. However, if you’re in a time crunch or can’t fit traditional and online courses into your schedule, a good book is your best bet.

Quick Look: The Best Project Management Books

  • Project Management Absolute Beginner’s Guide by Gregory Horine – Get this book
  • Guide to Project Management by Paul Roberts – Get this book
  • Project Management Lite by Juana Clark Craig – Get this book
  • The Lazy Project Manager by Peter Taylor – Get this book
  • A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge by Project Management Institute – Get this book
  • Project Management for Non-Project Managers by Jack Ferraro – Get this book
  • Cracking the PM Interview by Gayle Laakmann McDowell, Jackie Bavaro – Get this book
  • Making Things Happen by Scott Berkun – Get this book
  • Effective Project Management: Traditional, Agile, Extreme 7th Edition by Robert K. Wysock – Get this book
  • Project Pain Reliever by Dave Garrett – Get this book

What You Should Look for in a Project Management Book

When searching for the right book on project management, you should always check the author’s background and whether they’re offering theoretical or practical knowledge. Here’s a bit more on each consideration.

Author Work History

While there’s no guarantee about any book until you’ve successfully applied what’s written in it, the author’s reputation and work history are strong indicators of quality. Make sure to do a thorough checkup on the writer’s work history and find out what big projects have they led in the past and whether the companies they worked at thrived during their tenure.

If an author is anonymous or hides his or her portfolio, your best bet is to look elsewhere. Likewise, if they have a bad reputation among their peers or if their books have too many negative reviews, continue looking.

Theory vs. Actionable Steps

Next, you should decide whether you want to learn the theory and reasoning behind particular project managing concepts or if you want practical advice and actionable steps that you can apply in real life. This decision will help you narrow your search even further.

It is worth noting that many writers offer a mix of theory and practical advice in the same book also.

Our Picks for the Best Project Management Books

In the following section, we’ll present our top 10 books on project management.

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

Source: Amazon.com
  • Who’s it for? Beginners
  • Price: On Sale

This book was originally published back in 2012 and is now in its 4th edition. The author Gregory Horine wrote this guide for the beginner who’s just about to take on his or her first big project.

The book covers all the major concepts an inexperienced project manager should master, from planning to control and execution of the assigned project. The 4th edition also covers the latest and most popular web-based project management tools.

Horine offers a wealth of practical advice drawn from his extensive experience in the field. This book is a must for all project managers who need to learn the ropes.

Get this book

2. Guide to Project Management by Paul Roberts

Source: Amazon.com
  • Who’s it for? All levels
  • Price: On Sale

Guide to Project Management by Paul Roberts is currently in its second edition. The author explains everything that a project manager needs to know and do to see a tough project through from the beginning to the end. He also gives the reader plenty of advice based on his years spent on high-profile projects.

Roberts writes that a huge percentage of projects never got off the ground and those that do never come to completion due to a lack of companywide support and poor project management.

Expect clear explanations and demonstrations written in easy-to-read proses. The chapters are replete with diagrams, flowcharts, and tables which further facilitate the learning process.

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3. Project Management Lite by Juana Clark Craig

Soruce: Amazon.com

  • Who’s it for? Beginners
  • Price: On Sale

Project Management Lite, as its name suggests, is a compact and concise guide. It was written for project managers of all levels, with a higher focus on beginners, who want a quick reference guide. The author does away with long and overly detailed explanations in favor of the essentials.

Beginners and inexperienced PMs will find the most value in this book. The language is free of professional jargon and easy to understand. The lessons are brief and to the point, covering all the important bases.

The author Juana Clark Craig also offers a ton of practical tips and tricks on how to bring the first project to completion with competency.

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4. The Lazy Project Manager by Peter Taylor

Source: Amazon.com

  • Who’s it for? Advanced
  • Price: On Sale

While the title of this book may have you thinking it’s about cutting corners, the subtitle quickly clears all doubts. How to Be Twice as Productive and Still Leave Office Early actually focuses on advanced techniques and skills, with the famous 80/20 rule at the core of Taylor’s concept.

Taylor offers concise explanations on how to maximize your productivity and the productivity of your team. The lessons are written in a conversational tone and laced with funny anecdotes from more than 30 years of experience in managing top-tier projects in large corporations. Special attention is given to multi-cultural teams and how to lead them.

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

Source: Amazon.com

  • Who’s it for? All levels.
  • Price: On Sale

This is a book every project manager should read. It is a gold standard in the field of project management and widely considered a requirement for passing the PMP exam. Ask any professional or your company’s top project managers and chances are PMBOK would be one of the top three recommendations.

The book covers the entire process of project management from the inception to completion, filled with thorough explanations and clear examples along the way. It is written in a serious, professional tone that might be a bit dry for readers unfamiliar with the academic tone. Regardless, you should read it if you’re serious about improving as a PM and expanding your skillset.

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6. Project Management for Non-Project Managers by Jack Ferraro

Source: Amazon.com

  • Who’s it for? All levels
  • Price: On Sale

Many times, especially in small companies and startups, the role of the project manager is assigned to a person that’s never taken the PMP test or managed a project before. What to do if it happens to be you? Fear not, for this amazing book by Jack Ferraro has got your back.

Ferraro writes in a simple and clear style that eschews professional jargon. He methodically breaks down every step of the way, explaining all the nuts and bolts of the project management process. Some of the important topics covered in this handy guide include business analysis, program sequencing, work breakdown structures, and risk management strategies.

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7. Cracking the PM Interview by Gayle Laakmann McDowell, Jackie Bavaro

Source: Amazon.com

  • Who’s it for? All levels
  • Price: On Sale

Landing a job as a project manager is a tough task, even for seasoned professionals. Laakmann McDowell and Bavaro cover the entire interview between the covers of this highly useful guide.

You will learn what is a project manager and how the position differs in some of the world’s biggest companies. The authors also cover what you need in terms of experience and education, as well as how to write a good resume. Cover letters are also covered.

The interview portion of the book contains sections on “Define Yourself”, “Behavioral Questions”, “Estimation Questions”, “Product Questions”, “Case Questions”, and “Coding Questions”.

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8. Making Things Happen by Scott Berkun

Source: Amazon.com

  • Who’s it for? All levels.
  • Price: On Sale

The first edition of this book came out back in 2005 and went on to become one of the best-selling books on project management ever written. Currently, it is available in the revised edition. It is written through the prism of a large software writing software and super-easy to follow and understand.

Between the covers of Making Things Happen, Berkun tackles tried-and-true strategies and philosophies on defining, fronting, and managing business projects. He offers invaluable advice on all things project management and proven steps that you can take to solve real-life PM problems.

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9. Effective Project Management: Traditional, Agile, Extreme 7th Edition by Robert K. Wysock

Source: Amazon.com
  • Who’s it for? All levels
  • Price: On Sale

The 7th edition of Effective Project Management added around 100 new pages of content based on the feedback of instructors and professional project managers. It covers everything in the latest PMBOK guide, plus new case studies, exercises, and PowerPoint slides.

The book examines all the popular project management methods for a variety of industries, including traditional, Kanban, agile, extreme, Enterprise Project Management, and Scrumban. Along with the materials presented in the book, readers also get access to the companion website with additional exercises and solutions.

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10. Project Pain Reliever by Dave Garrett

Source: Amazon.com

  • Who’s it for? All levels
  • Price: On Sale

Project Pain Reliever is there for all accidental project managers and those just starting out. It is divided into two main sections – The Art of Project Management and The Science of Project Management. The main goal of this book is to arm a non-traditionally-trained PM with the knowledge and skills needed to avoid common pitfalls and steer projects toward successful completion.

The main takeaways from this book include applicable solutions to common challenges and tips on how to handle a project if and when it sails into uncharted waters.

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Finding the Best Project Management Books

Quality project management books are the way to go for PMs who are busy and don’t have much free time. In case you want to diversify into other fields, we suggest high-quality business books or personal finance books. If you plan to start your own business, check out these top entrepreneur books.