[Book Review] Greenlights // Matthew McConaughey

From the Academy Award®–winning actor, an unconventional memoir filled with raucous stories, outlaw wisdom, and lessons learned the hard way about living with greater satisfaction

I’ve been in this life for fifty years, been trying to work out its riddle for forty-two, and been keeping diaries of clues to that riddle for the last thirty-five. 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.

Copy of Greenlights book next to Lil Bean

Greenlights is unlike any celebrity memoir I’ve ever read. The comedian memoirs, such as Tina Fey’s Bossypants and Amy Poehler’s Yes Please are full of self-deprecating jokes and anecdotes about growing up a woman. Those are all good things. Anna Kendrick’s Scrappy Little Nobody basically tells how she went from rags to riches and how she’s still star-struck by it all and most likely suffering from an ongoing imposter syndrome, while Lauren Graham’s Talking as Fast as I Can details her career on Gilmore Girls and her experience writing the book in her trailer on a set. Essentially, all the books I’ve read cater to consumer curiosity about what it is to be a celebrity and how it all feels. McConaughey, on the other hand, doesn’t just write a memoir–he writes an autobiography, from childhood up to the present.

McConaughey’s Texas upbringing is full of shenanigans that make for entertaining stories, but aside from that, McConaughey connects the narratives with the consistent theme of his drive for purpose and meaning in life. The setup of the book is almost like a scrapbook that someone has kept for years. McConaughey is an avid collector of bumper stickers and quotes, so those are peppered throughout the narrative, as well as all the green-text “greenlights” in the book that signify important, career defining opportunities.

Greenlights details how McConaughey met his wife, his wet dreams that have led him to travel abroad on a solo soul-seeking endeavor, and how he took time off from his job to change the direction of his acting roles in Hollywood.

I generally read pretty fast, but I devoured this book in less than 72 hours because it was just so consuming. McConaughey’s mode of storytelling is like listening to a secret story over a fire late at night. You’re leaning in to hear the life-altering revelations that took McConaughey decades to learn.

If you’ve never read a celebrity memoir, McConaughey’s uniquely-bound book may be a perfect place to start. But also be sure to check out the memoirs I mentioned above. Tina Fey’s book made me laugh out loud multiple times, and Anna Kendrick’s was a very down to earth narrative.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

PUBLICATION DEETS: Crown Publishing Group, October 20, 2020, 308 pages

CATEGORIES: self-help book, nonfiction, memoir/autobiography

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