So You Want to Be a Scrum Master? Top Books to Read for Scrum Master Excellence

There are a lot of Scrum books out there – just type “scrum” on Amazon and you’ll be overwhelmed by resources. After three years of Scrum+, turning Agile Coach recently, I created quite a good reading list for myself. I’ll share it here, as I had requests from numerous people.

How I choose the books: I go straight to the source. The “authorities” in Scrum are and was created by the original Scrum framework designers Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland in 2000. Mike Cohn is also one of the original founders of the website (but does not take the credit for creating Scrum). Scrumalliance comes with their own certifications – the notable difference from is the “C” in front (Certified Scrum Trainer, Certified Enterprise Coach, Certified Scrum Professional, Certified Product Owner, Certified Scrum Master):

scrumalliance was created by Schwaber (same as above), in 2009. There was a fallout with his partners and created his own website and certifications. The certifications from have a “P” in front (Professional Scrum Master, Professional Scrum Developer, etc.).


I’m not going to go into differences and commonalities between these two – saving that for another post – but I’ll jump into resources and books for understanding Scrum.

If you’re a newbie

Start with this book: Software in 30 Days: How Agile Managers Beat the Odds, Delight Their Customers, and Leave Competitors in the Dust, by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland. It’s a very good intro for Scrum and teaches you the basics.

After finishing the book, read the Scrum Guide. This 12 pages document contains all the rules of Scrum.

Now, if you want to be a Scrum Master -> Reading list 

*the order is what worked for me, first I learned the mechanics, then I understood the mindset – while practicing Scrum and Agile – then I got beyond Scrum and used other frameworks. It’s essential that you apply into your everyday work what you read, otherwise it’s just concepts that will fly out of your mind.

*on leadership, coaching, etc – this can and should be read at any time. I consider this part of the Scrum Master journey. You can’t be a Scrum Master if you’re not a leader, if you can’t facilitate meetings or your communication skills are not excellent.

  1. Before anything, try to understand the mechanics of Scrum (the rules of the framework). Then learn why you follow the rules – values & principles::
  2. Scrum is an Agile framework, so it doesn’t work at its fullest by itself. Introduce yourself to Lean, Kanban, and Extreme Programming.
  3. Leadership, coaching, team facilitation, team dynamics, communication: these are all major skills for Scrum Masters. You can’t do the job without being an expert in these:
  4. Now we’re getting into details. In-depth learning about Product Management, Engineering Practices, Testing, User Stories, Design Thinking, etc.

Suggested reading for getting certified: and (not exactly a reading list but conditions for certification). So if you’re looking for a certification, start with the reading suggested here – but best would be to join a class, the learning is much faster.

Here are my goodreads lists for each of the above:

Obviously there are more resources out there, and I will update this list as I keep on reading. But I chose here classics and proven authors in their respective fields. Do your own research and find your method of learning (I suggest classes training, learning from peers works best for me).

I’ll come back with a post on recommendation of best Agile podcasts.





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