Apr 10th, 2024

10 Must-Read Project Management Books for 2024

Naveen Kumar Singh
Naveen Kumar Singh

Naveen is a professional agile coach and has been working independently for a long time in the Asia... Read more

It's no secret that even experienced PMs often learn valuable lessons the hard way - through mistakes and failures. But what if you could shortcut years of missteps and absorb the hard-earned wisdom of expert project managers?

Well, you can! By cracking open the pages of the finest project management books, you gain access to decades of industry knowledge and real-world insights. You'll discover ingenious tools, techniques, and best practices to tame unruly projects and stakeholders.

We've compiled a list of the best project management books that will shortcut your path to project management mastery. Read on to find out more about the books that belong on every PM's shelf!

Top 10 Project Management Books for PMs 

These top project management books equip you with the frameworks, methods, and skills to conquer the toughest project challenges. They provide the blueprint to deliver projects on time and on budget without the typical headaches. You'll gain that superpower - the ability to make projects bend to your will.

1. Project Management Absolute Beginner’s Guide

By Greg Horine

If you’re new to project management and want to learn the fundamentals of project management, this book by Greg Horine should be on your reading list. The book covers all the basic tasks and skills needed for project management, from planning and budgeting to executing, managing teams, and closing projects. So it's comprehensive for a beginner.

Project Management Absolute Beginner’s Guide talks about a step-by-step approach to learning project management, making it easy to read for beginners. The book is updated with project management practices like Agile methodologies. You will also learn how to manage a remote team.

“Although we review many of the common errors made in each of the fundamental areas of project management throughout this book (so you can avoid them), understanding the most common project management mistakes helps focus our efforts and helps us to avoid the same mistakes on our projects.” —- Greg Horine, Project Management Absolute Beginner’s Guide 

There are mentions of avoiding common beginner mistakes and accelerating the learning curve. The author covers PMP certification and Microsoft Project software, indicating there is some tactical, tool-based learning, too. Overall, the tone and topics are oriented toward those who are completely new to project management and are looking for a solid foundation. 


2. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide)

By Project Management Institute (PMI)

The 7th edition of PMBOK Guide is a great read for all aspiring and experienced project managers. The book covers a range of project management approaches beyond (agile, hybrid, adaptive) just waterfall models. 

There is an entire section focused on how to tailor PM processes to meet specific project needs. In this book, you’ll be introduced to various project management tools, methods, and artifacts. This book will help you get practical guidance on applying project management concepts. 

PMBOK Guide is integrated with the PMI standards that provide real-world context and examples for using project management principles and processes. The 12 principles of project management and 8 performance domains give a strategic framework for planning and executing projects effectively. 

All in all, the 7th edition of PMBOK Guide is a good read for all aspiring project managers if you want to learn how to enable project outcomes through principles and processes in the evolving PM landscape. 


3. The Deadline: A Novel About Project Management

By Tom DeMarco

A software engineer, influential consultant, and author, Tom DeMarco’s The Deadline is a great novel for anyone working in the project management and development team. It’s a beginner-friendly read that touches on various concepts of people, processes, and conflict. 

“At the left side of the stage was a man with a megaphone, exhorting the audience with cries of “Louder! Louder!” A few people in the crowd were clapping softly, but no one was shouting. Still, the noise, even the little bit that penetrated the null area, was enough to rouse Mr. T.” —- The Deadline, Tom DeMarco

The best part about this book is its engaging, story-based format to illustrate realistic project management situations and challenges. This makes the concepts more relatable and memorable. Each chapter concludes with summarized learnings and advice. These distill key project management principles that new PMs can apply.

The book highlights common project risks and pitfalls (poor specifications, missed deadlines, scope creep, etc.) throughout the story. Understanding these common issues can help new PMs anticipate and address them proactively.

Also, The Deadline will help you learn the importance of communication, managing stakeholder expectations, and building team relationships. These "soft" skills are critical for PMs. The book seems useful for giving new PMs a grounded understanding of real-world project management through an engaging story paired with actionable principles. 

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4. Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager

By Kory Kogon

If you don't have any formal training in project management but got into the role of managing projects, this will be a perfect read. This book talks about how any employee can take the role of managing projects even without the title of ‘’Project manager.”

The book outlines a practical approach to project management that focuses on people and relationships as much as process. It covers the key phases of project management - initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, controlling, and closing.

You will learn project management strategies tailored to "unofficial" PMs without large teams or extensive organizational support. It provides real-world anecdotes and tips that even a beginner PM can relate to. 

“Too many people call your project a success if all you’ve done is meet the deadline and the budget. But did you meet or exceed expectations, the first measure of success? Did you achieve your business outcomes? … And did you truly optimize resources, the second measure of success?” —  Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager, Kory Kogon

The book emphasizes critical "soft skills" like leadership, communication, and influencer skills that enable successful project delivery, even without formal authority.

It boils project management down to its essentials in a way that is accessible and actionable for those without PM backgrounds. The "Project Management Proverbs" and chapter reviews reinforce key lessons.

Overall, the Unofficial Project Manager book is helpful for both beginners and experts in PM roles.


5. The Lazy Project Manager

By Peter Taylor

The Lazy Project Manager is another great addition to this list of best project management books you should read. Whether you're an experienced Product Manager, beginner, PM seeking to enhance productivity, this book will teach you the techniques to work more efficiently and achieve a better work-life balance. 

The Lazy Project Manager talks about taking the strategic “lazy” approach— working smarter, not harder. In the book, the author suggested that adopting a focused, strategic approach can make you twice as productive. 

The book advocates minimizing wasted effort and only exerting energy where it really moves the needle on projects and goals. This "lazy" prioritization enables greater efficiency.

"The point here is that working by the productive lazy rule, a smart project manager should apply time and effort at the critical stages of the project, i.e. the start and the finish, and less time in the middle or less critical stage. At this stage there are other people in the project who should be doing most of the hard work, and you probably deserve a bit of a rest anyway." — The Lazy Project Manager, Peter Taylor

You learn why intelligent laziness gives people an edge. Saying no to non-essential tasks allows you to focus energy on high-impact work. The book provides quick tips and techniques for maximizing productivity with minimal effort, like avoiding surprises, multitasking strategically, and establishing routines.

It emphasizes the importance of work-life balance. "Laziness" helps prevent burnout and directs effort towards goals that really matter. Humor and engaging examples are used to communicate the lazy productivity principles and make them more memorable.


6. Project Management for Non-Project Managers

By Jack Ferraro

For all the functional managers out there waiting to get into a project manager’s shoes, this book by Jack Ferraro would be a great choice for you. Jack Ferraro uses engaging stories and examples from his experience as a PM consultant to make the book relatable to you.

It covers the essential PM methodologies and processes that can give non-PMs an advantage in ensuring project success. This includes business analysis techniques, work breakdown structures, scheduling, risk management, and more.

The book provides step-by-step guidelines to help managers master critical project management skills. The author did a great job of explaining the steps meaningfully without overwhelming the readers with advanced theory. 

Overall, the book bridges the gap between project managers and functional managers by arming the latter with essential PM skills and mindsets to improve team performance and drive greater business value.


7. Project Management Case Studies

By Harold Kerzner

Project Management Case Studies (5th Edition) is a collection of over 100 real-world project management case studies from high-profile companies across various industries, including recent cases from Disney, Boeing, the Olympics, and Airbus. 

The case studies provide in-depth examples of project management in action, covering both successful and unsuccessful projects. They illustrate the diverse challenges project managers face and strategies to address them.

“Project management often suffers after the actual merger or acquisition. Mergers and acquisitions allow companies to achieve strategic targets at a speed not easily achievable through internal growth, provided the sharing or combining of assets and capabilities can be done quickly and effectively.” — Project Management Case Studies, Harold Kerzner

The case studies come from a range of industries like medical, aerospace, entertainment, manufacturing, and more. This allows readers to gain insights into project management across different organizational contexts.

The book aligns with PMP exam preparation, reinforcing key concepts and testing knowledge application through diverse scenarios. Experienced PMs will also benefit from the practical examples for continuing education.

This fifth edition also includes cases focused on agile and scrum approaches to project management, reflecting the growing adoption of these methods.

8. Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management

By Scott Berkun

Making Things Happen by Scott is a critically acclaimed book that offers practical advice and philosophies for defining, leading, and managing projects based on the author’s experience in managing major software projects at Microsoft. 

It focuses on universal project management principles rather than specific methodologies. The book turned complex concepts into easily digestible nuggets covering project vision, specifications, decision-making, problem-solving, team leadership, and more. 

“It’s hard to ignore the underlying pressure this implies for project managers, but it comes with the territory. Don’t just sit there; make it better. There is always a new way to think, a new topic to learn and apply, or a new process that makes work more fun or more effective.” — Making Things Happen, Scott Berkun

Making Things Happen also talks about project planning, managing expectations, minimizing annoyances, and strategizing for when things go wrong. Scott Berkun also shared how important it is for project managers to hone soft skills like trust, communication, and reduce politics or power struggles. 

The new addition of Making Things Happen adds more guidance on leadership and management for teams. The author used a comfortable, entertaining, and passionate tone to write the book. While reading this, the tone of writing will make you feel like you’re taking advice from a mentor. 

All in all, Making Things Happen is a great project management book that combines philosophical and strategic advice in a funny yet inspiring way. 


9. Agile Project Management with Scrum

By Ken Schwaber

Agile Project Management with Scrum talks about the Scrum principles and practices using real-world case studies and anecdotes from the author's extensive experience. These stories provide examples of how Scrum can be applied and the lessons learned.

The book covers how Scrum can help rein in complex projects, manage changing requirements, empower self-organizing teams, improve customer collaboration, reduce planning overhead, deliver faster in sprints, and maximize ROI.

The cases illustrate common pitfalls like reverting to older PM habits, highlighting how Scrum differs from traditional command-and-control project management. With diverse examples, the author showcased the benefits of using Scrum across different industries, project types, and team structures. 

The best part about this book is it doesn’t just glorify what went well while applying Scrum. There are cases where Scrum wasn't perfectly successful. This provides honest lessons on what can go wrong and how to avoid the same mistakes.

The book breaks down Scrum theory into digestible stories to help the reader "feel" the nuances vs just being told about them. So, project managers can learn a great deal about Scrum from this book through stories and examples. 

10. Project Management JumpStart 

By Kim Heldman

Project Management JumpStart offers a practical, beginner-friendly introduction to project management concepts and best practices. It aims to help those new to PM build a solid foundation.

The book provides a broad definition of project management, making the book applicable beyond just business and government to any goal-oriented endeavor. The content of Project Management JumpStart aligns with the Project Management Institute's PMBOK Guide but with real-world examples and advice on applying the principles.

“When you’re just starting out, don’t discount the experience you’ll gain by working on small projects. Large projects are really a lot of smaller projects all lumped into one. The stepping stones to large project work are created by a history of success with small and medium-sized projects.” —  Project Management JumpStart, Kim Heldman

In this book, you can learn about various PM concepts like planning, scheduling, budgeting, risk management, leadership, project monitoring, and many more. The author’s writing style is concise and simple, avoiding jargon. Overall, the book is an easy-to-follow introduction to modern project management practices, tools, and principles for beginners. 


Some popular books for project management are:

  • PMBOK Guide

  • The Deadline

  • The Lazy Project Manager

  • Project Management JumpStart

  • Project Management for Non-Project Managers


To become an expert project manager, you must know these skills— Budget Management, Scope Management, Time Management, Risk Management, Relationship Management, Negotiation Skills, Conflict Resolution, etc.

Some main project management methodologies include– Scrum, Lean, Six Sigma, Kanban, and XP. Read more about these methodologies in this blog


Project management certificates can help you take your career to the heights. Here are some PM certifications you can earn: CSM, PMP, ACP, PSM, SAFe POPM, etc. You can learn more about the certificates here.

Naveen Kumar Singh

Naveen is a professional agile coach and has been working independently for a long time in the Asia Pacific. He works with the software development team and product team to develop awesome products based on empirical processes.

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