14 Books Every CTO Should Read

14 Books Every CTO Should Read - 1
Paul Francis

Table of content

    A CTO is a responsible person with a wide range of technical knowledge and experience who heads a technical department or division in a company. CTOs provide the implementation of new technical solutions, choose a strategy for the technical infrastructure growth, and ensure its security. Did you recognize yourself? Then read on.

    One of the most effective ways for CTOs to keep up to date with new tech approaches is to read cto Books written by experts, leaders, and innovators. Detailed information, practical advice, and inspiring stories can help technical directors develop their skills, expand their vision, and lead their teams confidently and creatively. Below, we offer the Cto reading list with the 14 best books for technical directors on technology, leadership, and innovation.

    1. The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering

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    • Author: Frederick P. Brooks Jr.

    • Published: 1995

    • Pages: 322 pages

    • Goodreads Avg. Rating: 4.01 ⭐

    This book, led by Joel Billy, CEO of Pro Series Media, contains informative interviews with CTO leaders. 

    Few books on project management can be called as significant as this one. Here is a symbiosis of real-world software development examples, opinions, and reflections that create a vivid picture of managing complex projects. These essays are based on Brooks’ fifty years of experience as a project manager at IBM System/360 and then OS/360.

    Despite the fact that this reading was published almost 30 years ago, its ideas are still relevant.


    To expand your professional network and gain deeper insights into the latest trends and best practices, consider attending top CTO conferences. These events provide unique opportunities to meet and learn directly from industry experts and authors of essential books for CTOs. Engaging in discussions and sessions at these conferences can significantly complement your reading and help you stay ahead in your field. Check out our list of the top CTO conferences to find the best events to attend.

    1.  The Lean Startup

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    • Author: Eric Ries

    • Published: 2011

    • Pages: 299 pages

    • Goodreads Avg. Rating: 4.11 ⭐

    The Lean Startup has been tested for years and the recommendations still work. Everyone knows that most new startups fail. However, the vast majority of these failures can be prevented thanks to the Lean Startup strategy. Using new tools changes the ways of creating companies and launching new products.

    1. Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams

    14 Books Every CTO Should Read - 4

    • Author: Tom DeMarco, Timothy Lister

    • Published: 1987

    • Pages: 245 pages

    • Goodreads Avg. Rating: 4.13 ⭐

    “Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams” is a helpful guide for managers of any level. Besides, it can become an initial foundation for the future for those who want to be a leader and not like everyone else, but the best.

    The main message of the work is that a person is the center of everything. A person has to face all the difficulties, and take on multiple responsibilities, depending on their position. So, the future of the company highly depends on the individual impact of the leader. 

    Among other CTO books, this one stands out thanks to real stories illustrating the described principles. All chapters contain observations and approaches that will force readers and managers to see crucial issues from another, more reasonable perspective.

    1. Rework

    14 Books Every CTO Should Read - 5

    • Author: Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson

    • Published: 2010

    • Pages: 288 pages

    • Goodreads Avg. Rating: 3.98 ⭐

    Rework was written by practitioners. Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hensson are highly successful Internet entrepreneurs who founded the legendary 37signals. This book is inspiring, but also takes you out of your comfort zone and provides helpful practical advice! Rework is perfect for people who feel they were born to create, lead, and conquer.

    1. The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master

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    • Author: Andy Hunt, Dave Thomas

    • Published: 1999

    • Pages: 321 pages

    • Goodreads Avg. Rating: 4.33 ⭐

    “The Pragmatic Programmer” is a book that comes with a series of independent sections. It is filled with entertaining anecdotes, thoughtful examples, and interesting analogies. The tips in this book are evergreen and we recommend using it as a reminder of best practices.

    1. Code Complete

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    • Author:  Steve McConnell 

    • Published: 2004 (second ed.)

    • Pages: 914 pages

    • Goodreads Avg. Rating: 4.3 ⭐

    This book is rightfully considered one of the best practical guides. It presents hundreds of examples illustrating the art and science of programming. Based on academic research, on the one hand, and practical experience of commercial software development, on the other, the author synthesized pragmatic guidance from the most effective methods and principles.

    1. Continuous delivery

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    • Author: Jez Humble, David Farley

    • Published: 2010

    • Pages: 463 pages

    • Goodreads Avg. Rating: 4.19 ⭐

    The book is aimed at programmers with experience in corporate development. This must-read paper presents the principles and practical techniques of the assembly, automation, testing, and deployment of high-load applications. 

    We have no doubt that you have already implemented the principles of Continuous delivery in your projects. But if you don’t, then read this book immediately

    1. Don’t Make Me Think!: a Common Sense Approach to Web Usability

    14 Books Every CTO Should Read - 9

    • Author: Steve Krug

    • Published: 2000

    • Pages: 495 pages

    • Goodreads Avg. Rating: 4.24 ⭐

    “Don’t Make Me Think” provides many ideas not only for professionals but also for personal growth. It is good work for those who plan to engage in UX development. 

    The fact is that by focusing on the implementation of innovative technical solutions, CTO can banally forget the principles of usability and this book will help you remember them.

    Due to its practicality, wit, and common sense, the book has become one of the most beloved and recommended publications about usability.

    There are no obscure tables and metrics here that make you scratch your head. The book is written in simple and understandable language, for humans and about humans.

    1. Thinking, Fast and Slow

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    • Author: Daniel Kahneman

    • Published: 2011

    • Pages: 499 pages

    • Goodreads Avg. Rating: 4.18 ⭐

    In the book, Daniel Kahneman describes two dominating systems that control how we tend to think and choose. 

    One system is fast, intuitive, and emotional; the other is slower, thoughtful, and logical. 

    The author suggests looking at thinking process differently, through our extraordinary capabilities. He suggests discarding flaws and prejudices. He also draws attention to the profound influence of intuitive impressions.

    By the way, this reading has received six prestigious awards.

    1. The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win

    14 Books Every CTO Should Read - 11

    • Author: Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, George Spafford

    • Published: 2013

    • Pages: 345 pages

    • Goodreads Avg. Rating: 4.26 ⭐

    The narration is conducted on behalf of the new vice president of the IT department, Bill Palmer. It has been 11 years since the publication of this information, and the topics it raises are still relevant. 

    After reading this business novel, you will understand how to incorporate the DevOps method into the work of your company, establish communication between development departments (Dev) and IT processes (Ops), teach managers to recognize problems in IT projects, and more.

    1. Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager

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    • Author: Michael Lopp

    • Published: 2007

    • Pages: 281 pages

    • Goodreads Avg. Rating: 3.93 ⭐

    In the reading, the author shares his diverse, sometimes strange experience gained over the years of working in large IT corporations: Apple, Pinterest, Palantir, Netscape, Symantec, etc.

    “Managing Humans” talks about how to deal with conflicts, manage a wide variety of personality types, innovate in crazy product plans, and create a sustainable engineering culture. The essays are informative, funny, and full of unpredictable conclusions.

    1. The CTO ¦ CIO Bible: The Mission Objectives Strategies And Tactics Needed To Be A Super Successful CTO ¦ CIO

    14 Books Every CTO Should Read - 13

    • Author: Rorie Devine

    • Published: 2020

    • Pages: 86 pages

    • Goodreads Avg. Rating: 3.59 ⭐

    This is one of the best CTO books in 2024, highly informative, yet simple and accessible, in which everything is presented in a simple and accessible way. 

    Here, you will learn everything to become a successful CTO concisely. The author gives 100 bright ideas on how to become an effective technical director. And all this is served with a good deal of humor.

    1. Modern CTO: Everything you need to know, to be a Modern CTO.

    14 Books Every CTO Should Read - 14

    • Author: Joel Beasley

    • Published: 2018

    • Pages: 146 pages

    • Goodreads Avg. Rating: 3.44 ⭐

    This book is the perfect guide for those who go from “developer” to “technical director”. The “Modern CTO” is based on Beasley’s personal experience. The author talks about his problems, lessons learned, and what to avoid when you hold the position of technical director. It is one of the best Books for cto in 2024. 

    Listen to discussions on these books in our recommended podcasts for CTOs.

    1. Think Like a CTO

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    • Author: Alan Williamson

    • Published: 2023

    • Pages: 320 pages

    • Goodreads Avg. Rating: 4.29 ⭐

    Using real-world examples, this book shows how to succeed in the rapidly changing role of a technical director.  

    The author gives proven business advice and ideas and tells stories from practice. The reader will learn interesting things about how to create successful technology platforms and form effective teams. Using Alan’s experience, you will be able to competently select and implement software products, conduct interviews, and so on.

    Final Thoughts

    CTOs can greatly benefit from reading books that cover management, strategy, and advanced technologies like AI. The curated list of 14 essential reads for CTOs includes insights from industry leaders and practical advice that can help technical directors enhance their skills, foster innovation, and lead their teams effectively. These books provide a blend of theoretical knowledge and real-world examples, making them invaluable resources for navigating the rapidly evolving tech landscape and ensuring success in their roles.

    For those looking to expand their knowledge further, attending industry events can be equally valuable. Check out our list of Top CTO Conferences to Attend to stay updated on the latest trends and network with other tech leaders.

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