Your favourite IT books

By request, we have a thread on your favourite books. Let's keep it to books on ITSM, ITIL, and IT Operations. [Bump this back to the top: Come on folks! I'm sure there are more indispensible ITSM books out there.]

James said:
Sid's Heroes
Sadly out of print. Sid has a website
Buy as many books as you can secondhand. Make sure everyone reads them.

For me, Skep, they are here, but I'd single out The Mythical Man-Month by Fred Brooks. Decades old and still a classic.

Leave a comment with YOUR favourites.


Dialog Mapping-Building Shared Understanding of Wicked Problems

Liked the parts about Wicked Problems, fragmentation and social complexity. Adopting ITSM seems like a Wicked Problem to me! If you're a member of PMI, you can find it in their 'eReads and Reference' section....a value add that itSMF might think about.....

John M. Worthington
MyServiceMonitor, LLC

Theory of Constraints

Wicked Problem approach is good. I would like to see an in depth TOC approach to ITSM.

the 12 hour MBA

the 12 hour MBA is a summary of the topics you would cover in an MBA. Each chapter has exercises to help drive the points home. I found it really beneficial to re read after I got the Expert certification. Its a practicial application of the concepts in the Service Strategy book. And..biggest benefit helps you understand the General's Point of View and language.

Boring choices, I'm afraid

Since you ask, I've thought about this. I can think of a few IT books (Knuth, Software tools in Pascal, Tannanbaum's networking books, lots of the O'Reilly animal books), but these are outside your brief. The Mythical Man month is an excellent book too, but already taken in this thread.

The book that I've found useful and recommended most is the ITIL V2 'Planning to Implement Service Management'. It's clear, concise (lots of IT books these days are fat, expensive bricks mostly filled with screenshots, repetition, long explanations of simple things and little about the difficult stuff), nicely laid out and has helpful suggestions.

I believe that a V3 version is being worked on, and I'm looking forward to seeing it - I'd quite like to review it actually, but nobody has asked me (yet?). If the V3 version came out with the various sample templates on a companion CD, I think it would be immensely useful. I know that lots of people would like it to have a tool comparison section as well, but I know the problem, that these so swiftly go out of data and take considerable effort to produce whilst inevitably attracting criticism from the vendors of the tools that don't come first!

I've also found 'ICT Infrastructure Management' a very useful book - particularly for those who were led by the V2 training to believe that ITIL consisted only of Service Support and Service Delivery - but it is now replaced by V3 and, to be fair, it does go on a bit about some things (the Event Management stuff particularly) in a rather academic and impractical way.

When I was first involved in Service Management in anger, over a decade before I encountered ITIL, I found Tom Peter's (he's aged a bit since then and lost those long, flowing locks) 'In Search of Excellence', though overwritten, a good guide to the management of change (as opposed to change management), I still think his eight principles important in getting things to actually work effectively, though I'm not sure how many of the companies he wrote about still exist, or, if they do, still practice what he said they did!


The itSMF UK SIGs are beginning to produce some quite useful guides.

one indigestible lump

I too think V2 Planning is an excellent book. Everytime it gets mentioned like this I give a guilty start and recall how I don't refer to it often enough :)

I've written about the lack of a meta-lifecycle in V3. We desperately need How to implement ITIL in n easy stages. As I said once, V3 teaches us how to run but many sites are still sitting down. It's too much when faced as one indigestible lump. What is needed is guidance on how to ease into V3 gradually.

First Break All the Rules

We held a roundtable discussion here in Wellington yesterday as part of my preparation for book #4 (thanks everyone!) and I was reminded of a very important book on corporate culture (not IT specific) that every manager should read: First Break All the Rules, Buckingham and Coffman.

it is based the preposterous proposition that business books should not be based on the posturing opinions of the author (that's me out of work) but instead be based on actual research on what works in lots of companies. So Gallop correlated company performance with a whole lot of factors in a whole lot of companies and this is the result. Not only is the result extraordinary but I have seen its successful application in a couple of large corprorations. Read it. I'm going to re-read it.

ROI on Book discussions?

Hi Rob,

I know you are very in favor of transparency, so I think you don't mind the question. Is it a good move to discuss books in your blog in order to show the amazon ads next to them? I hope you are getting a good percentage of the sales. Does your blog get enough traffic to make this thread profitable?

I would like this to be true, a place where people sharing an interest can discuss and the one providing the space is benefiting from that. But I guess your blog is still unprofitable if viewed standalone. Maybe it is useful as a marketing expense for you.



I assume this is sarcasm.

Either this blog becomes more profitable or it will close. It has always openly been an experiment in what is profitable. In the current economic climate I struggle to justify the hours I put into it.

i get about 6% on Amazon book sales. Last month was a record month for me: I made $65.16. normally it is between $20 and $40. Add to that the $150 I make off google (it nearly reached $300 before the recession bit) and you have the total revenue from the site. I find it hard to justify an hour or two a day for that.

Nor does this blog generate marketing for me, other than invitations to speak at conferences. Thiose invitations always result in a nett cost to me in four figures, which is why I have turned down four invitations for this year. Kiwis are singularly unimpressed by "fame" so it doesn't get me local work. And it generates no sales of my own book. Yes I'm hoipiung to change that with the two books at the top left, but I doubt it will repay the thousand hours sunk into this site so far.

I walk a fine line between trying to live and pissing off thoser readers who seem to think the web should be free. Feedback such as yours is invaluable to tell me when i have strayed across that line. I'd be interested to know who else finds them intrusive. As the other comment said, they are at least relevant. Most blogs and news sites carry an awful lot more advertising than this one does and I turn down a lot of advertising business. in tha past I might have done what other sites do: change the name of the book to a clickable link that either does not disclose the affiliate relationship or very occasionally is marked with an "(aff)". I no longer do that: I use an overt ad, and always a relevant in-context one.

I'm proud of the LACK of commercial activity on this site (relative to the web as a whole) but it is unsustainable. If you like the service this blog provides then you are gonna have to live with a little more sorry.

No criticism on commercial activity

Hi Rob,

If my post seemed to be criticising the amount of ads on this site, I do apologize. I tried to express the opposite. I found it a clever idea to have a discussion on the favourites of the users of this site and have the amazon ads next to the discussion. I really hoped you would be getting more out of the site. I am commercial active on ITSM myself I would never expect you to deliver this for free/with no return. I was mainly curious if it was worthwhile or not. I hope you can continue running the and the ads do not piss me off at all. In such a discussion it is even valuable to have the amazon ads next to the book reference.



Hahaha. The IT Skeptic is exposed as over-sensitive. Written conversation lacks so many cues and clues...

I AM very sensitive about it though, so I do welcome feedback if people get annoyed. Thanks for the support folks.

Ads are not intrusive

Skep, Your advertising doesn't feel intrusive to me. I bought the Real ITSM book just a few days before you dropped the price. I don't mind that a bit because I enjoy your ideas and the subsequent discussions. I stop by daily to see what's interesting.

I just sent a heads up from this entry's comments to a coworker (for Peter's metrics book) with the Amazon link that includes your affiliate code.

Missed the Real ITSM discount?

Anyone who bought before the discount, please contact me and I'll see you right with a bigger discount off the next book

Now thats offside

I find the links make it easier to look up the books. Thanks for making it easier to navigate and find what others recommend.

Topics on this blog are always thought provoking, I recommend it to my peers regularly.


I put recent reads in the Reading Room off my web site.... not listed is one I didn't buy but liked: Death March, by Ed Yourdon

got it from the library....sign 'o the times....

John M. Worthington
MyServiceMonitor, LLC


My copy arrived this morning. I haven't stopped laughing yet ;-)

[Skeptic moved this comment up to the root level as it was in a confusing place - might have been perceived to apply to Metrics book :). It was actually published on 2008-08-22 ]

yes, it is good

I'm thinking of creating a RealITSM course. EXIN please, create a certification exam for it.



Careful Aale. recall that:

The Real ITSM qualification scheme and examinations are set by the RITSI’s official PragmaITSM accreditation agency Two Hills Ltd in close consultation with Two Hills Ltd... Training courses and examinations can only be delivered under licence from Two Hills Ltd, who will, for a fee, accredit an Endless Income (EI) or Annuity Training Opportunity (ATO).

Any unlicenced courses will have to explain to our IPR lawyers Lou and Stan from our DespoITSm department.

Yes but

Dear Rob

I will actually buy the book for all students, if any.
And a beer for you if you ever want to see the world from the top.

Br Aale

Rip Off

Having worked with a big consultancy I found it rather unconmfortable find our entire M.O. laid bear in David Craig's Rip-Off

Trust me, it is exactly how we used to work - and why I left.

ITIL Books

The ITIL book I refer to most is:

Metrics for IT Service Management
ISBN: 90 77212 69 8

The Complete Idiots Guide to Knowledge Management

Read this book and you get a great overview on the benefits, value and approach to implementing process.
Good examples, clean language and great look at what it takes to make it real.

Replace Knowledge Managment (KM) with ITIL or ITSM and you have a real guide for making it happen.

I have read this one a few times for inspiration and new ideas for approaching Organizaional Change and Communicating why ITIL needs to be done.

Thank you!

Thank you, kindly, for that recommendation! I'm delighted that people are still finding it of value.

I'm keen too for any recommendations for improvement for possible future editions as well. Please send them on to me (peter.h.m.brooks at gmail dod com).

You've made my day, actually - sudden, unexpected recognition is a delightful thing. I'm almost tempted to go out to lunch on the strength of it...! I shan't, of course, on a busy Wednesday, but..

All the best,

Metrics Book

The previous comment on this title was repeated many times at the ITSMF UK conference last November. It really is an industry classic!

Network warrior

Being a part time network bloke my favourite book is Network Warrior
Everyone always blames the network!

Out of print

All the great books go out of print.

The Corporate Fool by David Firth

That book was so good that on a cycling holiday around Ireland when I drilled holes in my teaspoons to save weight, I still took it with me.

In an off the wall way that I still find difficult to recommend, but couldn't not - another of David's - Sacred Business

I buy every secondhand exanple of Sacred Business that I can, and give it away to as many people as I can because whilst I thinks ome of it is new age rubbish the underlying messages are valid. It has tchanged the lives of several of my friends.

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