7 Books Every CTO Should Read

Emilien Coquard
4 min readJan 12, 2021


Building the tech infrastructure of your business, choosing the right tools, and outlining a foolproof technical strategy, all while managing a diverse team of engineers — if you’re a CTO, then this is probably what your day looks like.

And when you have a never-ending list of responsibilities, a team to lead, and deadlines to deliver, keeping up with the latest technologies and management strategies can be difficult. In our first edition, we curated a list of podcasts for CTOs, that you can read on the go. Today, we’ve curated a list of books that you can read when you unwind after a long day at work.

In this piece, we discuss seven books for CTOs — books that can give you all the advice that you’ll ever need. From people-management to leveraging new technologies, embracing change, and understanding your engineers, these seven books can prove to be an invaluable source of practical knowledge that you can use on a daily basis.

1. Modern CTO

Author: Joel Beasley

Modern CTO by Joel Beasley is one of the most recommended books for CTOs for many reasons. Joel first began writing code at the age of 13 and went on to sell his first technology for one million dollars when he was only 18 years old. Today, Joel is a CTO, working with clients ranging from start-ups to billion-dollar enterprises.

Modern CTO is a book that is based directly on Joel Beasley’s personal experience, where he talks about the challenges he faced, lessons learned, and things to avoid when you’re a CTO.

Why you should read it:

Modern CTO is a book that is based on a simple, yet fundamental principle — developers are not CTOs, but developers can learn how to be CTOs.

Through this book, you can learn how to successfully navigate the unexplored transition between the role of a developer and a CTO. You’ll also learn how to manage people and deadlines, know when to abandon a sinking ship and build a better one, deal with poor code, steer clear of some common UX mistakes, and more. Modern CTO is the ultimate guidebook if you’re making the transition from ‘a’ developer to ‘the’ CTO.

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

Author: Michael Lopp

Micheal Lopp, a Silicon Valley-based engineering manager, is known for his unique writings across a range of diverse topics such as people management, pens, and werewolves!

What makes Managing Humans a must-read book for CTOs is the humourous yet insightful management experiences of the author at Apple, Netscape, Borland, and Symantec, among others. Based in Silicon Valley, where a dull day at work includes throwing chairs and yelling at each other, Micheal Lopp has managed to pull no punches to deliver stories that will speak to you.

Why you should read it:

Micheal Lopp believes that writing code is easy. Managing humans is not, and that’s why you need a book to help you do it. Whether you’re an aspiring CTO, a current CTO, or if you’re simply wondering what a day in the life of a CTO looks like, look no further.

The book also highlights fundamental leadership aspects such as dealing with your boss, handling conflicts, hiring the right engineers, why everyone hates meetings, motivating employees, understanding different engineering personalities, and, most importantly, thriving in everything that you do.

There’s no doubt that this book has a substantial amount of information. But that’s exactly why people want to read it.

3. The Lean Startup

Author: Eric Ries

Eric Ries is many things — a blogger, entrepreneur, innovator, and a visionary. Also known as the ‘software guy’, Eric Ries founded the Lean Startup theory, which is aimed at shortening product development cycles to improve marketing functions.

The Lean Startup, nicknamed the ‘Bible’ of entrepreneurship, provides a scientific approach to building and managing successful tech startups in an age where innovation is the need of the hour. The book introduces a new strategy to change how companies are built, and products launched.

Why you should read it:

The Lean Startup steers clear of elaborate business plans and focuses on offering entrepreneurs a way to test their vision, adapt, and adjust, to create a successful business. By doing so, it enables businesses to shift gears with agility, modifying plans on the go, inch by inch.

Read more at https://thescalers.com/top-7-books-every-cto-should-read/