I know what you’re thinking: reading is for nerds. And you’re right. But those nerds are better at their jobs and smarter than those who aren’t reading, so that’s gotta be worth something, right?

Not to toot my own horn here, but I read no less than *twelve* full books in 2015. Not only that, but I know twelve other people who have also read one or more book in the past year. Here are our favourites:

Anthony Armendariz: Articulating Design Decisions by Tom Greever (2015)
Designing something wonderful is one thing – explaining why it’s so great is quite another. This is meant for designers, but we PMs get put into this position all the time.

Sam Barnes: The No Asshole Rule by Robert Sutton (2007)
No matter how much value they bring to the table, having an asshole on your team will cost your company so much more. Learn why you can’t afford to keep them in this book.

Tera Caldwell-Simon: Die Empty by Todd Henry (2013)
As PMs, it’s so easy to get caught up in a thousand little tasks every day. This book reminds us to stay focused on the bigger picture, both in terms of projects and life.

Rachel Gertz: The Win Without Pitching Manifesto by Blair Enns (2010)
Want to create demand for your services or to be able to command higher prices? This short book explains how you can achieve just that through careful specialization.

Brett Harned: Discussing Design by Adam Connor and Aaron Irizarry (2015)
If you want your design team to push to the next level, they must be able to give and take critique. Practical ways of improving this process are explained here.

Elizabeth Harrin: The Resilience Breakthrough by Christian Moore (2014)
Crap happens. And when it does, we need to be able to come through the other side stronger. This book provides 27 strategies that can also be applied to project work.

Amy Kapell: Who by Geoff Smart and Randy Street (2008)
Take some of the randomness and guesswork out of the hiring process by discovering a better way of finding the right people. It will totally change how you run interviews.

Dan Mall: Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek (2014)
Building on the idea of “servant leadership,” Sinek explains how true leaders behave. And yes, project managers are leaders on their teams. Highly applicable.

Carson Pierce: Pitch Perfect by Bill McGowan (2014)
You don’t have to be a professional speaker to get a lot out of this book. Even if all you aspire to is to get better at client presentations or running team meetings, you’ll find it here.

Dave Prior: The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer (2015)
Many PMs take a command and control approach to get stuff accomplished. But what if we were more vulnerable and worked together to get what we all need instead?

Larissa Scordato-Solomon: User Story Mapping by Jeff Patton (2014)
Sometimes building stuff in an agile way can end up feeling a bit unfocused. This book helps connect your user stories together towards a common vision.

Natalie Semczuk: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni (2002)
Lencioni’s books are written like novels, but the practical business applications are clear. In this case, how to move past common problems and form effective teams.

Carl Smith: Creativity Inc. by Amy Wallace and Edwin Catmull (2014)
Taken from the lessons of Pixar, this book explains how to achieve excellence through the development of a creative culture. Important stuff for all creative companies.

What did you read this year? Share your recommendations so that we nerds can catch up in 2016.


Carson has been doing the digital project management thing for over a decade now, and still loves every minute. After hours, Carson listens to music no one else likes, plays hockey poorly, and co-runs the DPM Edmonton Meetup.

Connect with him on Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *