My Preferred Agile, Scrum, and XP Resources

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A friend recently asked me this question:

What would you recommend in terms of the best book(s) to learn about Agile (Scrum) with XP practices? That is, if you had a team of developers who were newbies to Agile, Scrum, and XP, what books/articles would you give them to bring them up to speed on what they should be doing and how they should be doing it?

This question from my friend is a very tricky one, in that it is very broad and generic, and my friend gave me no extra team or organizational context to go on, so about all I can do is give a generic answer, and that is what I’ve done below. If you’re looking to combine Scrum with XP practices, be sure and see Kniberg’s book under “Scrum” below.

Don’t have time to read all of these? Well then, read the first couple from each category, and then continue working your way down each list.

My Preferred Resources

All are in order of my personal preference in each category.


  1. The Scrum Guide (Must read for all)
  2. Deemer, et al. “The Scrum Primer”
  3. Cohn’s _Agile Estimating and Planning_ (Must read for Scrum Masters)
  4. Pichler’s _Agile Product Management…_ (Must read for Product Owners)
  5. Cohn’s _Succeeding With Agile…_ (Must read for Scrum Masters once they have a few Sprints under their belts)
  6. Kniberg’s _Scrum and XP From the Trenches_ (Note that there is a free PDF download of this book if you register with InfoQ – something I recommend anyway)
  7. Derby/Larsen’s _Agile Retrospectives_

XP (Extreme Programming)

  1. Jeffries’ “What is Extreme Programming?”
  2. Jeffries’ _Extreme Programming Installed_
  3. Koskela’s _Test Driven…_
  4. Martin’s _Clean Code_
  5. Feathers’ _Working Effectively With Legacy Code_
  6. “The Rules of Extreme Programming”
  7. Wiki entry on XP Practices

Agile/XP Testing

  1. Summary of Lisa Crispin’s Presentation to Agile Denver on Test Automation
  2. Cripin’s “Using the Agile Testing Quadrants”
  3. Crispin/Gregory’s _Agile Testing_
  4. Crispin/House’s _Testing Extreme Programming_
  5. Cohn’s “The Forgotten Layer of the Test Automation Pyramid”
  6. Osherove’s _The Art of Unit Testing_

User Stories (which originated in XP)

  1. My “User Story Basics” article and all of the links at the bottom of that article
  2. Cohn’s _User Stories Applied_
  3. Cohn’s _Agile Estimating and Planning…_ (Chapter 12: Splitting User Stories)
  4. Lawrence’s “Patterns for Splitting User Stories”

Special Agile Topics (if applicable)

  1. Deemer’s “The Distributed Scrum Primer” (If some of all your team is remotely distributed)
  2. My article entitled “The Role of Managers In Scrum” and all of the links at the bottom of that article
  3. Larman/Vodde’s _Scaling Lean Agile…_ (If your Agile transformation involves a very large organization)

8 Responses

  1. So many books are “how to” but Agile is more of a way of thinking about doing. That’s why I love Alistair Cockburn’s “Agile Software Development.” If you understand it, then you understand the whys of the various methods and how you can bend them to fit your needs.
    Agile is a means to an end, not an end.

  2. Sean,

    Thanks for the comment.

    While I agree that understanding the “Agile why?” is awesome, I wouldn’t recommend any book by Alistair to beginners(based on the 3 that I’ve read). To me, most of his books are written at the Ha-Ri level.

  3. Hello Charles, thanks for providing a link to Lawrence’s “Patterns for Splitting User Stories” i notice that he also has a post titled New Story Splitting Resource, i look forward to reading both of them later today.

  4. I have read some of the scrum books. I quite like
    Exploring Scrum: The Fundamentals by Doug Shimp and Dan Rawsthorne
    because it has given me some more practical tips

  5. Hi Charles,
    thanks for the nice structured list – I fully agree with your recommendations. Some books are now added to my book-backlog 😉

    Some books I recently read and I would add to your list are:

    “Management 3.0” – Jurgen Appelo – long missing link for the management in agile environments

    “Drive” and “Non-Violent Communication” and “Where good ideas come from” – really nice books to cover the topic motivation.

    “Tribal leadership” – to understand how your organization works and what could be a final goal with your agile transformation.

    Maybe these books are interesting for you too – for some of them you can find some book notes to scan on my blog.

  6. Hi Charles,

    What a great list! Thanks for taking the time to put it together.

    Have you had a chance to read the newly released Scrum Shortcuts ( by Ilan Goldstein yet? It’s the latest one from the Mike Cohn Addison-Wesley Signature Series and is pretty different to most other books in this space.



    • Avi,

      I was actually one of the reviewers on that book and Ilan’s work is outstanding. The book changed a fair amount before it was published, and I want to take a closer look at the final product before I put it on the list. I also plan to do a short review of the book as well. Just having trouble finding time for that!


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