#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • 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 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.
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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
It only makes sense that an iconoclast like Matthew McConaughey would take the basic idea of an autobiography and make it all his own. Part memoir, part self-help manifesto, Greenlights finds the actor sharing some of the most intimate, illuminating, and hilarious moments from his life and career. McConaughey draws inspiring lessons from his blue-collar Texas childhood, his father’s tragic passing while in bed with McConaughey’s mother, and his history of sexy dreams that seem to prophesy big life moments like meeting his wife. We especially loved getting an inside look at how the Hollywood star prepares for his movies—did you know his iconic “Alright, alright, alright” from Dazed and Confused was ad-libbed during a costume fitting? In print, McConaughey comes across as every bit the charming rogue he so often plays on screen, but he’s also a masterful storyteller. Greenlights proves that, at least in McConaughey’s case, real life truly is stranger than fiction.
Gladwell (Talking to Strangers) delivers a ruminative, anecdotal account of what led up to the deadliest air raid of WWII: the firebombing of Tokyo by U.S. forces in March 1945. Expanding on a recent multiepisode arc of his Revisionist History podcast, Gladwell begins with the development in the 1920s of the Norden bombsight, which gave pilots the ability to aim at specific targets, rather than drop their bombs indiscriminately. A group of young U.S. Army Air Corps pilots including Haywood Hansell enthusiastically endorsed the bombsight and other new aviation technologies and their potential for reducing casualties. Hansell eventually took charge of U.S. bomber units in England during WWII, and used "precision bombing" techniques to target German factories and supply lines. But when he arrived on the Mariana Islands to command the U.S. air attack on Japan in 1944, bad weather and the jet stream near Tokyo made precision bombing impossible. After refusing to launch a full-scale napalm attack, Hansell was replaced by Gen. Curtis LeMay, who directed the raid on Tokyo that killed an estimated 100,000 people. Gladwell provides plenty of colorful details and poses intriguing questions about the morality of warfare, but this history feels more tossed off than fully fledged. Still, Gladwell's fans will savor the insights into "how technology slips away from its intended path."
I laughed. I awed. I oh’d. I recommended this book over and over. It felt like an escape and like home.
One of my favorites