Top 10 Books Every CTO Should Read

Roger Jin on August 16, 2017

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Out of curiosity, which have you read? I have only read Rework. I started Phoenix Project, then got caught up in other endeavors and meant to come back to it.

I would love have a mapping and a road map whenever I see articles listicles on great books. You go to a webpage and import your library, pick topics or books that you're actively reading, and then generating a visualizations that help highlight key items. I could see having a "directory" listing of major topics(think of pushing through the table of contents for each book through an NLP processor and creating tags). Then to take it a step further, I would like to see a directed graph of how books relate to each other. IE, See how topics are referenced throughout each book. Then you can embed this content in your article, and not only do you see a great list of books, but you can view just how important they are!

The reason for this hopefully is relate able, I have a hard time understanding whether or not I have enough information to even begin reading a specific book. I find it important to have just enough context on a topic before I jump into "the gems". I love taking samples of each book to gain some some insight, but I often find by time I finish the sample I've either moved on or found it not as relevant. If I saw upfront just how the books or authors are connected to what I've already read, it may help recognize what I stand to gain from reading each book.


I used to try to be "efficient" in this manner when reading, Mark, but I've since given up and now I just read, every day, and everything that anyone I trust or admire recommends. I typically try to buy the hard bound version and then I just trust that a) I won't remember all of the lessons in first or even the second read and b) I can re-read the book when something I read later triggers me to revisit the subject. Since I may not get around to that for some time, I like having the physical copy as a durable reminder to pick it up and revisit.

This is great advice. I cannot say I frequently re-read my books, but when something "triggers me to revisit" a passage, I can ground the material in an experience in my own work/life, which helps me to internalize the lesson.


I can recommend the book User Story Mapping by Jeff Patton (O'Reilly Media). Of course it focuses on the concept of user story mapping but it also includes a lot of good information on how to deal with tight schedules or what things to really focus on when creating new products / features.


I would add one more: Dreaming in Code by Scott Rosenberg! It's a funny, but eye-opening true story of one software project where everything went wrong! It does a great job of highlighting how real projects work...and how they die. [I've read it six times.]


I have Don't Make Me Think, Lean Startup, Man-month, and Pheonix Project under my belt.
Three additional books I recommend are:


Great list!! I've read Hooked, Drive, The Lean Startup ( & Lean UX), so lots of new book to be include in my goodreads pipeline. I would also suggest:

  • The Pragmatic Programmer (Andrew Hunt)
  • Switch (Heath Brothers)
  • Leaders Eat Last (Simon Sinek)
  • Tribal Leadership (Dave Logan)
  • The Power of Habit (Charles Duhigg)

Looking forward many more suggestions!!



Great list, Thanks! Another title to add here is "Delivering Happiness" by Tony Hsieh.


Well-balanced list, pragmatic and soft skills included. I'd add Refactoring by Martin Fowler 👍

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