Pure Portfolios' 2021 Reading List

"It's not about "educated" vs. "uneducated" it's about "likes to read" vs. "doesn't like to read." - Naval Ravikant


One of my favorite things to do during the holiday break is to catch up on reading.


I've asked the Pure Portfolios team to provide a list of books they've read in 2021, along with a brief description or takeaway.


If you're looking for your next book to read, hopefully this list provides your next great journey (or maybe a gift idea for a friend or loved one!).


Nik Schuurmans, CFA


Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey. Cool behind the scenes look at the famous actor's life. This is a family blog, but he's got some crazy stories. My favorite is the backstory of his first breakthrough role in Dazed and Confused as Wooderson. "Alright, alright, alright..."


The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins. I'm not a conspiracy theory guy, but this book will make you question news headlines. John Perkins goes through his personal journey of manipulating economic data and corrupting foreign officials.


The Almanack of Naval by Eric Jorgenson. The author scours Twitter, podcasts, and essays to capture life and happiness hacks from Naval Ravikant. My favorite quote from the book is, "Happiness is what's there when you remove the sense that something is missing in your life."


No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings & Erin Meyer. Netflix founder and CEO Reed Hastings shares the pillars of Netflix's culture. A company of high performers that operates with less controls and more autonomy is an idea we've tried to implement at Pure Portfolios.


Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel. I've recommended this book to anyone that will listen. In my opinion, this is greatest money book ever written. Morgan has an amazing ability to take the complicated and make it simple, yet interesting.


To Hell With the Hustle by Jefferson Bethke. This wasn't my favorite read, but it provides the framework for living a balanced life. I struggle with unplugging and being present. This book provides ideas for slowing down the rat race.


Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss & Tahl Raz. The author is a retired FBI hostage negotiator that outlines effective ways to communicate. The biggest takeaway is that most of us would be better off listening than talking.


The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson. A behind the scenes look at Winston's Churchill's leadership during WWII as the Germans waged a year long campaign against Britain. I found Churchill fearless, reckless, and brilliant at the same time. The riveting story includes great lessons in leadership and perseverance.


Atomic Habits by James Clear. Too often we create large goals that aren't supported by our daily habits. The author provides a framework for optimizing your environment, making good habits easy, and bad habits impossible.


Your Next Five Moves by Patrick Bet-David. A guide for entrepreneurs to have a framework for making decisions, improve their thinking, and anticipating changes. The author references making decisions like a chess grandmaster rather than a reactive amateur.


Anything You Want by Derek Sivers. The story of the entrepreneurial journey of the founder of CD Baby (started in Portland). You won't find the author's playbook in Harvard's Business School curriculum. It's rather unorthodox, but thought-provoking.


The Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi, Fumitake Koga. The book explores the psychology teachings of Alfred Adler. The format is unique, an ongoing dialogue between a struggling youth and elderly educator, covering self-forgiveness, courage to change, and ignoring limitations.


*I was tired of reading great books and forgetting key concepts. Earlier this year, I reluctantly switched from paperback to Kindle. I can highlight text, which automatically upload into Readwise. Each morning, I receive an email including a random collection of highlighted text from my readings. The system has been a life changer!*



David Gewant, CIMA, CAIA


Beowulf (Seamus Heaney translation) is an epic poem inspired by Germanic and Anglo-Saxon oral tradition, composed near the end of the first millennium. It centers around the exploits of a brave warrior-hero, Beowulf, who embodies loyalty, selflessness and strength.


The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. A murder mystery, courtroom drama, and rivalry centered around three Russian brothers. Written in 1879, the philosophical novel explores religion, free-will and morality in relation to faith, doubt and reason.


Moonraker by Ian Fleming features fictional Secret Service Commander James Bond. Published in 1955, it is considered one of the best of Fleming’s Bond books, and is quite the departure from the film many have come to know. The story is set in England (no outer space!) and follow’s Bond’s mission to stop an industrialist, Sir Hugo Drax, from destroying London with a nuclear weapon.


Currency Wars by James Rickards. Although published in 2012, the book depicts how devastating currency wars can be in international economics. Currency wars can impact trade, inflation, recession and sometimes even result in manipulation and retaliation. Understanding the historical context is interesting as it relates to today's world and cryptocurrencies.



Erin Varghese


Grit by Angela Duckworth. Explores why some people are seemingly able to perform at the top of their industry with ease while others fall by the wayside. The bottom line is that success is not made overnight by extraordinarily talented people. Passionate persistence, or grit, is the key to outstanding achievement.


Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel. Easy read on the psychology behind money decisions and the way people view the world.


Never Split the Difference by Christopher Voss. High stakes hostage negotiation can be applied in personal and business relationships to give you a competitive edge and accomplish what you want.


Atomic Habits by James Clear. Read 2x this year. Simple and easy steps to implement in your daily life. Can truly be a life-changing book.


Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis. Personal account of an associate’s time at Salomon Brothers during the CEO John Gutfreund’s tenure from 1978-1991. Gives a broader understanding to the financial industry during the 80s. Great for people who weren’t alive during that time.


The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. Most books attempt to help you cope with or understand your problems. This book uses historical stories and experiences to show that you can not only overcome obstacles, but you can use your specific trouble as an opportunity to benefit you.


Probably don’t need to highlight these, but I discovered this year that taking a pause from self-help/business books was a nice mental break. I have a newfound pleasure for reading fiction and find that when I go back to self-help books, I go into it with a clearer, open mind.


Verity by Colleen Hoover

November 9 by Colleen Hoover

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris



Colin Purcell


To Shake the Sleeping Self by Jedidiah Jenkins. An epic bike journey that starts in Oregon and ends Patagonia. Jed goes into great detail about his experience and its impact on his life.


A Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety by Donald Hall. A poet reminiscing as he nears the end of his life. These essays and short stories push me to take stock of the good things in my life and to never let a moment of regret come to pass.


The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch. A book about a young boy growing up on a fictional bay off the Puget Sound that reminds me of the childhood I had growing up near an abundance of tidal pools.


Great Speeches by Native Americans edited by Bob Blaisdell. Native American speeches pulled from the 1500s all the way to 1991. Being able to consume speeches in chronological order adds context to the history of Native American tribes since colonialism.



Julie Johnson


American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. The story of a Mexican woman who had to leave behind her life and escape as an undocumented immigrant to the United States with her son.


Caste: The Origins of our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson. Examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.


The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. This historical novel is a multi-generational family saga set between the 1940s to the 1990s and centers on identical twin sisters growing up in the segregated South.



Toby Weber, CFA


Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding from Anywhere by Tsedal Neeley


Safe Haven Investing in Financial Storms by Mark Spitznagel


The Man Who Solved the Market - How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution by Gregory Zuckerman



Pure Portfolios wishes all of our clients, partners, and readers a wonderful holiday season!


Want to put a face with a name? Here's our team page!

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