My Essential Product Design Bookshelf

An ever-evolving, highly curated list of books that I recommend to anyone in the design field.

Last updated on July 3, 2020


The Lean Startup

Eric Ries

This was one of two books waiting for me on my desk on my first day at Pivotal Labs and I’ve re-read it four or five times since then. The main concept is about testing ideas before placing expensive bets on them. By using lean methods to maximize learning, you make more informed decisions and lower the risk of failure. This book will undoubtedly change the way you approach design and it will help you develop the business chops to make the most impact with your work. If you want to transcend beyond UI/UX and move towards the business impact of design this is the perfect starting point.


The Lean Product Playbook

Dan Olsen

I love this book because it does an excellent job describing the wide range of concepts that make up the product development process. It doesn’t go too deep in any particular area and instead gives an overview at a higher level. Many designers learn very specific workshops, methods, and techniques but fail to understand how all of these things affect each other in the overall process. The Lean Product Playbook frames the process through the lens of lean which means that you will get a good sense of the full product development process and lean principles that ensure your process is efficient and doesn’t waste resources. This is a great starting point for any product or UX designer looking to get into the field. I listened to the audiobook in less than a week during my commutes.


Creativity, Inc.

Ed Catmull

Creativity is a powerful word that describes the primary drive of most designers. The journey of creativity is tough and this book does a great job describing the challenges that Ed Catmull and his team faced bringing Pixar to life. This book is loaded with lessons of leadership, management, and the struggles between creativity and business.


The Tipping Point

Malcolm Gladwell

This book is a deep-dive into the psychology of viral ideas, products, behaviors, and messages—specifically, the point at which they cross a certain threshold and become epidemics. I’m a huge fan of Gladwell’s writing and the things I learned in this book have helped me think about the way I communicate my ideas with the rest of the world.


The Power of Habit

Charles Duhigg

It’s undeniable that in order to create products that affect people’s lives, you need to understand how people live. This book is more on the psychological side than the technical side of design but it’s a good one. The Power of Habit offers case studies that showcase the power of human habits and really makes you think about your own.


Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams

Matthew Walker, PhD

Ok, so this book isn’t about design but it’s highly informative on the mysterious topic of sleep—one of the most vital tools for sustaining creativity in the long run. I first listened to Matthew Walker on the Joe Rogan Experience and instantly became fascinated with his work. This book breaks down the impact of sleep on our health and lifestyle, describes how human sleeping habits have changed over time, and goes deep into the experiments that Walker and his team have performed at UC Berkeley.