Please Share

Project Management Reading List for Christmas

Project Management Reading List

I’d like to offer you my Project Management reading list for this Christmas season. But I have realised something. This year, it’ll be tricky.

There are a lot of pious bloggers out there who will tell you about all the fabulous books you must read. And they’ve read them all, of course, and they want to make you feel inferior, if you haven’t. That’s not me. Not this year, anyway.

Project Management Reading List

Project Management Reading List

Sad Realisation

My sad realisation is that I have not just read less than I’d like to this year. But I have read less than any other year I can recall. I’ve been so busy building OnlinePMCourses. So my planned article on the best Project Management books I’ve read this year was starting to look a little thin. (Actually, a lot thin.)

Necessary Solution

So I am doing something different. Not because it’s a clever idea and I want to do it. Rather, it’s a necessary idea. But it’s one I’ve enjoyed pursuing, nonetheless. I set myself the task of finding the books I’d most like to read next year

I have split my list into two sections:

  1. Proper Project Management books I’d love to read
  2. Books about general leadership and management I’d also love to read

Let’s start with my Project Management list.

Proper Project Management Reading

I’ve been searching the web for book recommendations, trying to find Project Management books that I think I’d either really enjoy, really learn something from or, best of all, enjoy and learn from. Here is the list of Project Management reading I most fancy for next year.

Neal Whitten’s No-Nonsense Advice for Successful Projects

By Neal Whitten, Management Concepts Press, 2011

I like the idea of books that are compendia of wise advice from the voice of experience. This is not a how to, but seems to be more of a mentoring book that will make me, as an experienced practitioner, think.

Buy at, or buy at

Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management

Scott Berkun, O’Reilly Media, 2008

Another book of wisdom and advice from a seasoned project manager. But this one seems to contain more by way of practical guidance too. Berkun is highly quotable:

‘If you never make decisions that you find difficult, and if you are rarely wrong, it’s time to ask your boss for more responsibility.’

Buy at, or buy at

Project Management JumpStart

Kim Heldman, Sybex, 2011

I am often asked to recommend the best introductory books for new Project Managers. Much as I like recommending my own (How to Manage a Great Project (US, UK, since you ask), I am always on the lookout for something new to me, and this one comes very highly recommended.

Buy at, or buy at

The Keys to Our Success: Lessons Learned from 25 of Our Best Project Managers

By David Barrett and Derek Vigar, Multi-Media Publications Inc, 2013

Everyone likes a good list book, and the possibility of learning from 25 excellent practitioners in one book is enticing. I fully expect a mixture of trivial, obvious, and familiar advice, but I also expect there will be a few nuggets that will justify the (slightly steep) price. There are plenty such tips ebooks on the web(I’m in a couple), but my experience is that preparation for print does generate better quality.

Buy at, or buy at

Strategic Project Management Made Simple: Practical Tools for Leaders and Teams

By Terry Schmidt, John Wiley & Sons, 2009

This one seems to be a strong basic project management guide, with some interesting perspectives for the experienced practitioner. I’m kind of expecting this to be a cross between Scott Berkun’s book and Kim Heldman’s.

Buy at, or buy at

Project Management Reading on General Management and Leadership

As a Project Manager, you need to be keeping up with good practices in managing and leading people. So part 2 of my Project Management reading list has five titles – many from this year, which I’d certainly like to get into.

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

By Simon Sinek, Portfolio/Penguin, 2011

This has become something of a classic, and Simon Sinek’s TED talks are among the most widely watched. The one linked to this talk may have over 30 million views when you read this. If you ever want a pithy quote about management life, Sinek is as good a source as any:

Some in management positions operate as if they are in a tree of monkeys. They make sure that everyone at the top of the tree looking down sees only smiles. But all too often, those at the bottom looking up see only asses.

'People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it' @simonsinek Click To Tweet

Buy at, or buy at

Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days

By Jake Knapp, with John Zeratsky & Braden Kowitz, Simon & Schuster, 2016

Management meets Agile Project Management – so an essectial book for any Project Management reading list! Written by an ex Google sprint leader, who developed the process that is widely used in successful startups.

When our new ideas fail, it’s usually because we were overconfident about how well customers would understand and how much they would care.

Buy at, or buy at

The Amazon Way: 14 Leadership Principles Behind the World’s Most Disruptive Company

By John Rossman, CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2014

From another Goliath of the last 20 years, comes Amazon’s way of managing. This is not about Project Management or technology. And we must be aware that there are plenty of criticisms in the air about Amazon’s people management and business style. But there is undoubtedly much to learn from them, if we remain objective and skeptical.

Buy at, or buy at

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World

By Adam Grant, Viking/Penguin, 2016

I really liked Adam Grant’s earlier book, Give & Take (US, UK), so I am eager to read this one, which explores how to be innovative.

The hallmark of originality is rejecting the default and exploring whether a better option exists.

Buy at, or buy at

Smarter, Faster, Better

By Charles Duhigg, Random House/Heinemann, 2016

This looks to me like a solid investigation of the research behind productivity. So for Project Managers, it is going to be very valuable reading.

Buy at, or buy at

Project Management Reading on Behaviour, Psychology, and Personal Effectiveness


Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change

By Timothy D Wilson, Allen Lane, 2011

As Project Managers, part of our job is to make change. This looks like a formidable book, which has been on my shelf all year. ‘Read me, read me’.

Buy at, or buy at

How to Have a Good Day: Harness the Power of Behavioural Science to Transform Your Working Life

By Caroline Webb, Crown Business/Macmillan, 2016

How could anyone resist this title. It seems to be a detailed guide to getting the best of every part of your working day, so another topic that should be perfect Project Management reading.

Buy at, or buy at

The Wisest One in the Room

By Thomas Gilovich and Lee Ross, Free Press/Oneworld, 2015

Since I wrote my own book about wisdom (Smart to Wise – US, UK) and did my own video course on Gravitas, the topic of how to be the person others turn to for advice, guidance, and solutions has fascinated me. This is high on my personal reading list.

Buy at, or buy at

The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty

By Dan Ariely, Harper Perennial, 2013

Who isn’t a fan of Dan Ariely these days. If you’ve not read any of his books, or watched any of his TED talks, it’s time to start. Ariely writes humanely and rationally about why we don’t act rationally. If your projects and stakeholders always act entirely rationally, you can ignore him with impunity. Otherwise…

Buy at, or buy at


By Richard Thaler, WW Norton/Penguin, 2016

Founder of Behavioural Economics scatters its creation story with research findings. So he seems to be doing for his subject what Daniel Kahneman did in his must-read book from a few years back, Thinking: Fast & Slow (US, UK)

Buy at, or buy at

What will be on Your Project Management Reading List for 2017?

Thell us below what books you want to read, and why. Or, if you have read one of the books above, give us your review.



About the Author Mike Clayton

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.

follow me on:
  • Dave Gordon says:

    Even necessary solutions can be excellent, and I like yours very much. I’ll add: Fierce Conversations, by Susan Scott; The Culture Map, by Erin Meyer; and Logically Fallacious, by Bo Bennett.

    • Mike Clayton says:

      Thank you, Dave. I read Fierce Conversations a few years ago, when I was preparing to write ‘How to Speak so People Listen’. Although it didn’t give me any specific ideas to introduce into the book, I rated it as the best of all the books I have read on conversations in general and coaching conversations in particular. It is an excellent book and I can endorse your recommendation fully. So I shall certainly be checking out your other two recommendations, as both are new to me. Thank you. Mike

  • […] Mike Clayton didn’t get the chance to read as much as he hoped in 2016, so this list of 15 books contains his aspirations for 2017. […]

  • >