What is Your Minimum Agile Reading List?

In preparation for my talk, Agile Projects, Programs, and Portfolio Management: No Air Quotes Required, I have created a Minimum Reading List for an Agile Transition. Note the emphasis on minimum.

I could have added many more books to this list. But the problem I see is that people don’t read anything. They think they do agile if they say they do agile.

But saying you do agile doesn’t mean anything if you don’t get to done on small stories and have the ability to change. I hope that if I suggest some small list of potential books, people will read the books, and realize, “I can do this!”

I am probably crazy-optimistic. But that hasn’t stopped me before.

I would like your help. Would you please review my list? Do you have better books? Do you have better suggestions? It’s my list. I might not change my mind. However, if you comment on that page, I would know what you think.

Thank you very much.


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  1. Phil Gadzinski

    Add in the Lean Start Up by Eric Ries- I’m sure its in your library already…..although not a “focused” agile book , it does rely on espousing short increments to drive successful innovation.

    • Johanna Rothman

      Phil, Oh, good idea. I will do that. That book is especially useful for managers, to change their mindset. Thank you.

  2. Manuel Martín

    I like your idea, Johanna.

    I miss something like “The Pragmatic Programmer” from Andy Hunt and David Thomas. Maybe is not a book focused in Agile or not in Agile terms but it gets an idea of how developpers have to work and lays the foundations, from a developper point of view inside a company, about how Agile thinking can grow.

    Another interesting book is “Thinking and Learning, refactoring your wetware” also from Andy Hunt (no, I don’t know him and I don’t have any agent’s comission). It’s also very related to Agile way of thinking without calling it Agile.

    Furthermore, I think that those two books can be very easy to read for people that doen’t read too much.

    • Johanna Rothman

      HI Manuel, Hmm. Maybe. Even with the XP book?

      But maybe I’ll use Practices of an Agile Developer, by Venkat Subramian and Andy Hunt. It’s short, it’s agile, it’s easy to read, and even project managers can get a lot out of it 🙂

      I really want to keep this a minimum reading list. This is quite difficult.

      • Manuel Martín

        Practices of an Agile Developer is a good choice. It’s short, Agile focused and well, it’s also written by Andy Hunt 🙂

        Achieving the MVP of the book’s list is a beautiful challenge. Sure you will do it!

  3. Dave Gordon

    I recommend “PeopleWare: Productive Projects and Teams,” by Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister to everyone. The third edition came out about a year ago – I’m sure you have an older version in your library.

    • Johanna Rothman

      Dave, I do have a much older version in my library 🙂 That is an excellent book, regardless of whether you are agile.

  4. Rebecca Mahoney

    I’d love to see your ‘minimum agile reading list’ Johanna, but the link doesn’t seem to be working – would you mind re-posting?

    • johanna

      Rebecca, you are correct! I redid my site. I have a number of broken links and that is one of them. Give me a little time to sort this out, please. Argh!


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