Project management is tough enough at the best of times. It requires a multitude of technical and interpersonal skills, and it’s important for your team to keep up with best practices as well as be aware of new ideas.
This article lays out what we see as the top project management books that teams need to read in 2023. Are these the best books for project managers? We think so, although take a look and see what you think.
Want to learn more about project management practices? Check out this post:
What is Project Management?
Put simply, project management is a process that aims to control project variables and deliver a result in line with a series of predefined goals. Working on a marketing campaign, renovating a house, or developing a new software tool are all projects that have defined goals, budgets, and timeframes to follow, as well as an individual or a team dedicated to achieving those goals.
The project manager leads the team and must perform technical tasks, manage people, and be able to liaise with other key stakeholders within the business. A good project manager allows the project team to focus on the work and achieve the best results, while they are responsible for planning the project and then following that plan.
With this in mind, project management is a tough and complex role. As well as staying abreast of the latest developments via courses and YouTube videos, books are one of the best resources for project management. Here we list what we think are the best books on project management that teams need to read in 2023, based on our own research and feedback from many of our clients.
12 best project management books in 2023
1. The ONE Thing, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
This is a great book for any current or aspiring project managers or team members who struggle with maintaining focus. That makes it useful for most of us, because who doesn’t struggle with maintaining focus in today’s hectic digital world?
The book asks what you want to achieve in the next decade, then the next five years, then one year, then one month, then one week. This backward style approach is a great way to change mindsets and attitudes, which then helps people to bring that kind of focus to their work.
2. Project Management Absolute Beginner’s Guide, by Gregory Horine
As the title suggests, this book is ideal for those who are new to project management and need to get started with confidence. For many, this is the best book on project management. While it covers the entire PM lifecycle, it focuses more on planning, control, and execution, as well as including some tips on how to use the latest MS Project Software, which is useful for some.
The author Gregory Horine is s an IT PM professional with over two decades of experience.
3. Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager, by Kory Kogon, Suzette Blakemore, and James Wood
This book remains an excellent introduction to project management for new PMs because it focuses on the basics. Any new project managers just getting started – as well as team members looking to make the leap to PM – can read this book to get all they need to know on starting, executing, monitoring, and signing off on projects once completed. It’s easy to understand and follow and includes real-life examples to help.
4. Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling, by Harold Kerzner, Ph.D
This is a textbook used by project management college students as well as professionals studying for certification exams. It is expensive, but comprehensive at over 1,000 pages, so it’s great for those looking to upgrade their theoretical knowledge as well as for helping pass certifications.
5. The Fast-Forward MBA in Project Management, by Eric Verzuh
Another pretty comprehensive book, this one works well as an introduction and a desk reference. Author Eric Verzuh is the president of Versatile, a PM training and consulting company that started in 1990, so he knows the kinds of questions common to project managers and their teams.
6. The Lazy Project Manager, 2nd edition: How To Be Twice As Productive And Still Leave The Office Early, by Peter Taylor
This is a slightly older book, with the most recent edition being the 2015 second edition. It’s a pretty light read also at fewer than 200 pages. However, we like it because it’s a classic of its type – another great introduction to the mindset of a successful project manager rather than a comprehensive technical guide.
Taylor’s point in this book is that it’s better to work smarter than harder and that “lazy” people have the edge over workaholics because their mindset is focused on a work-life balance. Using this analogy, Taylor argues that project managers should concentrate on only putting effort into tasks and projects that really matter. This results in increased productivity.
7. Project Management Lite: Just Enough to Get the Job Done…Nothing More, by Juana Clark Craig
In a similar vein to the last book, this is a fairly short book that advocates a focused, smarter-not-harder approach to project management that’s ideal for beginners. Author Juana Clark Craig has over twenty-five years of project management experience gained while working in Fortune 500 companies, and her books aim to focus on the practical, with examples and checklists that avoid excessive theory or technical jargon.
8. Brilliant Project Management, by Stephen Barker and Rob Cole
Another short but impactful book from two experienced project managers based in the UK. Based on their combined 40+ years’ experience, the authors share what makes a project successful, how to deliver what was promised, and how to stay on budget and on schedule. They also share their insights regarding the most useful methods, training, and associations. Another great choice for people who prefer the hands-on, practical approach to learning and don’t like too much theory.
9. Project Management Jumpstart, by Kim Heldman
This book is less short than the title suggests, clocking in at over 350 pages. It is, however, regarded by many in the industry as one of the best project management books for beginners. It’s fantastic introductory guide for new product managers or aspiring professionals who want to ensure they understand all the fundamentals of project management.
Written to align with A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge –PMBOK Guide©, 6th edition (see below), this book provides an overview of the field followed by an exploration of current best practices.
10. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), by the Project Management Institute
This is actually the 7th edition of this standard work – the definitive study guide compiled by the Project Management Institute for students to use for their certification exams. Surprisingly, it is also 250 pages long, so can actually be useful as a quick desk reference guide as well. Possibly the best project management book – or at least the one that everyone should have in their library.
Utilizing the 5 whys template for problem solving.
11. Doing Agile Right: Transformation Without Chaos, by Darrell Rigby, Sarah Elk, and Steve Berez
This book is an excellent deep dive into Agile, perfect for new and aspiring project managers, as well as experienced PMs who may have struggled to implement Agile effectively or realize the results that it promises. This book is great at outlining common Agile misconceptions and mistakes, helping readers to work out where they’ve gone wrong, where Agile is most likely to work well, and how to master and scale those techniques within your team.
12. The Blueprint: 6 Practical Steps to Lift Your Leadership to New Heights, by Douglas R Conant
Technical skills and knowledge are important, of course, but so too are the softer leadership skills that good project managers need for success. There are many books on leadership out there, but this one stands out for the author’s experience.
When Douglas Conant was fired, he reflected on what was holding him back from reaching his potential, and this led him to come up with a six-step path that anyone can use to improve their leadership skills
- Reach High: Envision
- Dig Deep: Reflect
- Lay the Groundwork: Study
- Design: Plan
- Build: Practice
- Reinforce: Improve
We recommend it if you feel you could improve your leadership skills as a PM.
Here’s what you can do next
Now that you are armed with our picks for some of the most insightful and useful project management books for 2023, why not look at how you can improve project management in your organization – or how you can deploy some useful project management software solutions?
To learn more about project management, Agile, or Kanban tools, check out our ever-expanding content library.
Alternatively, why not look at trying out Teamhood’s market-leading PM software solutions in your organization with a free trial:
Visual work management for high performing teams.
Take only first priority items in a meeting.
2019 - Present Co-founder and CEO @ Teamhood.
2015-2019 Head of software engineering department at Danske Bank.
2017-2018 Partner Associate Professor at Vilnius University. Lecturer of Software Architecture course
2011 - 2015 Managed numerous smaller IT teams at Prewise.
Co-founder of RaveIT, Eylean, No Brakes Games
Certified Agile product owner and practitioner. Managed large scale enterprise projects as well as launch of small startup products.
MSc of Software Engineering at Vilnius University.
Hobbies: Racing, MTB cycling, Windsurfing