Book Review: Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

September 20, 2022

Details from Audible:

Publisher's Summary

Number-one New York Times Best Seller • Discover the life-changing memoir that has inspired millions of readers through the Academy Award®-winning actor’s unflinching honesty, unconventional wisdom, and lessons learned the hard way about living with greater satisfaction.

Named One of the Best Books of the Year by The Guardian

“McConaughey’s book invites us to grapple with the lessons of his life as he did - and to see that the point was never to win, but to understand.” (Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck)

I’ve been in this life for 50 years, been trying to work out its riddle for 42, and been keeping diaries of clues to that riddle for the last 35. Notes about successes and failures, joys and sorrows, things that made me marvel, and things that made me laugh out loud. How to be fair. How to have less stress. How to have fun. How to hurt people less. How to get hurt less. How to be a good man. How to have meaning in life. How to be more me.

Recently, I worked up the courage to sit down with those diaries. I found stories I experienced, lessons I learned and forgot, poems, prayers, prescriptions, beliefs about what matters, some great photographs, and a whole bunch of bumper stickers. I found a reliable theme, an approach to living that gave me more satisfaction, at the time, and still: If you know how, and when, to deal with life’s challenges - how to get relative with the inevitable - you can enjoy a state of success I call “catching greenlights.”

So I took a one-way ticket to the desert and wrote this book: an album, a record, a story of my life so far. This is fifty years of my sights and seens, felts and figured-outs, cools and shamefuls. Graces, truths, and beauties of brutality. Getting away withs, getting caughts, and getting wets while trying to dance between the raindrops.

Hopefully, it’s medicine that tastes good, a couple of aspirin instead of the infirmary, a spaceship to Mars without needing your pilot’s license, going to church without having to be born again, and laughing through the tears.

It’s a love letter. To life.

It’s also a guide to catching more greenlights - and to realizing that the yellows and reds eventually turn green, too.

Good luck.

©2020 Matthew McConaughey (P)2020 Random House Audio

Initial Thoughts:

Matthew McConaughey is another one of those actors that you have to like, I mean I didn't see most of his rom-coms BUT he can be funny (Dazed & Confused!) and as the world, all saw he can take a great dramatic role (Oscar winner for "Dallas Buyers Club"). Of course, I'll also admit one of the other reasons I listened to this is his voice. I LOVE a southern accent, I don't mean a heavy one, just a light one with a bit of a drawl, very pleasant. So much so that I look for books with female narrators more than I do with men. Anyway, this is quite long, of course, it was on Libby so I gave it a listen.

Main Points:

 You know I thought about doing a super long-rambling type of review for this (and I'd enjoy writing it) but maybe I'll save that for a blog post sometime. I loved this book! It takes a while to get used to his interjections in between stories (he does "bumper stickers" and "prescription time!") which can be a little annoying (on occasion) but ultimately I loved the book because he has led such an interesting (and unusual) life that the stories are great to listen to. He tells a story and it's so wild (not sexually, he never gets explicit) that you wonder how he will top it but then (at least 3-4 times) he will!

I'd also add that he can be quite introspective (a lot actually) and he does come up with some good advice that I think would apply to a very large number of people. What you get from it is that he does a great job learning from his mistakes (not all of course but most) and it makes him more interesting to listen to.

Final Thoughts:

I'm not a religious person and I found a few parts to be a little tedious but someone who was religious may not feel that way. He puts so much effort into reading this book it is like a performance unto itself, and that makes the whole thing better. As such, I'll give it a very strong 8.5 out of 10 and a strong recommendation from me. While I would have liked to have heard more about some of his TV and film roles, there were some great stories on "Dazed and Confused", along with "The Dallas Buyers Club" and his season of "True Detective." Ages 16+ for drug use and some other mature topics. The under 7 hour time went by really fast, I would have enjoyed it more. I also found it refreshing to hear a man talk about an extensive journal he wrote and his poetry was quite good at times.  Another excellent non-fiction book read by the author and a book everyone could learn a little something from.