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Summary

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 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 what you hold now: an album, a record, a story of my life so far. This is 50 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 realising that the yellows and reds eventually turn green, too.   

Good luck.

©2020 Matthew McConaughey (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"Unflinchingly honest and remarkably candid, Matthew 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

"McConaughey is a talented actor and a fine writer, but a total genius at living. He attacks life with an exhilarating ferocity. This is a wildly unexpected and delightful book you can't just read, you have to experience." (Lawrence Wright, author of The End of October

"It shouldn't surprise you that this book is good, but it will surprise you just how good it is. Wise and entertaining, this is an inspiring memoir and how-to from one of the great outlaw philosophers and artists of our time." (Ryan Holiday, author of The Daily Stoic

What listeners say about Greenlights

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Long Overdue Window to Sincerity

Beautifully written and narrated by Matthew McConaughey, I have both the audiobook and the hardback on release date so listening to the voice I was able to look at the images, scans, photos and handwritten notes contained in the book as well.

This account of a life being lived, enjoyed and embraced whilst not being for sale is filled with sincerity, warmth and humility.

In Matthew’s own words, it’s a love letter to life, and listening all the way to the end, I really felt that is true.

I do not fan celebrities at all, especially Hollywood ones or typical A listers, but this voice was played to me at a time in my life when I needed to hear it so I was excited to get to know the full soul behind that personal experience for me.

There are lots of motivational videos online featuring this man’s voice.

The book is fast pace and a true page turner, I finished it in the one day and feel nothing but warmth and uplifted.

Thankful to have had this experience today.

A great read / listen.

Five stars from me.

71 people found this helpful

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Read this book, Greenlight...

I suggest you check you preconception at the door, fasten your seat belts for the McConaughey show, exit a better version of yourself, Rinse, repeat if necessary, The books good, funny, painful, as is life... thanxs Matthew.

43 people found this helpful

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Open and insightful glimpse of a life well-lived

McConaughey is one of those actors, twinkly-eyed, easy-going, almost effortlessly buff and charming and likeable. And guess what? You'll probably think the same of him after listening to this audiobook of his life (or reading a paper version).

I wasn't after a tell-all-Hollywood-gossip memoir. And that's as far from this as you can imagine. This gives us a life of someone pretty normal in many respects - okay, a quirky family but one that gave a solid foundation. A lot of travelling and mind-broadening. Some lucky breaks but also some good decisions made and pushing done to create his own opportunities. Right roads travelled.

Yes, we get to hear about his first days as an actor, searching for the big break, the ones that Made Him. But actually, the Hollywood experiences don't make up the largest proportion of his recollections. It's his earlier life and then his family life at the end bookending the Actor section that are the most entertaining, thoughtful and actually the most interesting.

Stories about acne, mad Australian surrogate families, meeting the love of his life. These are what I took away from listening. And as ever, McConaughey's drawly tone are so easy to listen to, it's like listening to a friend tell you their latest anecdote.

While I'm not religious and don't enjoy stories of spiritual awakening and suchlike, McConaughey's own moments of this aren't overly onerous, and do play a big role in some major life decisions. And he doesn't push them either. He also lightly mocks himself, talking about his character preparation for Reign of Fire for example. And his recent Oscar winning role and the labour it took to get the film to the screen is also dealt with in a way that brings out emotion in the reader. This is a man who's worked for what he's achieved. And thought a lot about what he wanted along the way.

It's a fairly short listen/read, and I'm really glad I chose the Audible version, I loved Matthew's company in the car. And his poetry and insight actually were incredibly good. There's one in particular I want to return to, some wonderful messages to take away.

Not a celebrity autobiography by any means, he throws us a few tidbits but there's no kiss-and-tell whatsoever, though I would have loved some more detail about the making of some of my favourites of his. Oh well.

Highly enjoyable, and over much too soon.

With thanks to Nudge Books for providing a sample Audible copy.

33 people found this helpful

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Sickly, preachy and way too indulgent

Really looked forward to this, but found it dimmed my opinions of the man. More of a self help book than a memoir. The industry anecdotes are great, but the personal ones are so self gratifying and preachy that I cringed. Also had trouble believing a lot of it.
Don't meet your idols!

27 people found this helpful

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Best book I read/listened in a looong time

I enjoyed this so much I didn’t want it to end! I laughed, I cried, and most importantly I listen, learned and got inspired! Matthew you are an inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Please give us more 🙏🏻🙌🏻❤️

22 people found this helpful

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Thank you McConaughey

This book gave me a warm feeling inside, every minute of the way. Matthew you’re a very humbling person and I’m thankful that you took the time to write this book. I went into it one person and came out a slightly more enlightened one. I recommend this book to everyone.

17 people found this helpful

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  • PP
  • 13-11-20

A bit... Meh

I found it a bit annoying, too pompous in very simple truths. I appreciated the author reading his own book, but the pretentious laugh sneaked in.

16 people found this helpful

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Bear with it!

I thought it was unusual that the reviews I read were polar opposites; some people loved it, some people hated it. I agree with both sides though, I hated the first half an hour or so, it was fast and rambling and it bothered me that he defended his parents use of physical abuse to discipline their children, this is something I feel strongly about but I'm a persistent reader and I persevered and quite enjoyed the book overall. It is autobiographical but it won't give you Hollywood stories or discuss friendships with other actors. It's more like a long motivational speech interspersed with anecdotes from his past. I like his positivity and although I can see how other readers may think he's full of himself, I think it's important to remember to stay positive no matter what life throws at you. Unfortunately for the rest of, us who are not in the position to turn down 14 million dollar film roles because of our principles, it may feel a little far removed from the average readers reality.

10 people found this helpful

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Great storytelling but not very inspiring contents

Matthew's performance was excellent. But the stories were from a privileged man and quite uninspiring.

9 people found this helpful

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Excellent

This is a highly original, entertaining and motivating piece of work. It's also an easy listen, read with great skill and energy by the author. He seems like a genuinely likeable guy with a real spirt of adventure and a great set of values. As he says, when you look back in the rear view mirror of your life, you want to like what you see. I don't think he'll be disappointed.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Amin Y.
  • 23-11-20

Rarely, we ever see something special as this

I may be speaking of myself, but I truly believe that Matthew McConaughey has gifted us with something that we rarely ever see something such as this.

It is 100% relative of the struggles that each and every one of us face.

GREENLIGHT...!!!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Arav
  • 24-11-20

Reading this Book from India

I loved this book for being genuine as possible without hiding things out of his life. It's Mathew McConaughey in his other side

1 person found this helpful

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  • Donovan Drew
  • 07-04-21

enlightening

let's understand greatness.. let's give credit where credit is due.. let's admire and appreciate true greatness. This book will leave you fulfilled and encourage a better you.
Bravo Mathew 👏🏼

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Adrienne Bartlett
  • 07-04-21

refreshing

i really enjoyed this book. I found it funny, and well structured. its refreshing to hear someone narrating the story of their life thus far, warts and all, and his voice just added to the story. There were many interesting things which we can all relate to. Well done Matthew , this was a great listen. Highly recommeded.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 27-03-21

Just keep Living

A must read to anyone who reaches that point in life where you done with just chasing the goal and want to start adding substance to the meaning of Life...

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  • Anonymous User
  • 17-03-21

Alright, alright, alright

just swoon. how stunning, motivational, inspiring!
a man not afraid to take a step back to redirect to live the life he wants.
brilliant performance. love the Texan accent.
to be beautiful, smart, insightful and brave. tells the story of a gifted human but we can all learn something from it and it will put a smile on your face and dance step in your feet.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 13-03-21

Masterpiece

A Masterpiece of page turning, brilliant, raw, honest storytelling of McConaugheys life so far and many lessons to be learned from it .

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-03-21

More than I thought it would be

Wow! I am not sure exactly what, I thought this book would be. It was however, more. More insightful, emotional and entertaining, than I could ever expect. Thank you for this. As a parent we try to explain to our children to learn from our experiences, as, our parents did with us. This, was just that. Your experiences for me to learn and grow from. A truly unique point of view, which I found far more emotionally challenging than I could ever have imagined. Again, thank you. Hearing it read by you added to this experience immeasurably. Five stars. Or, green light!

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  • hana123
  • 07-03-21

Deep as a paper cut

I am glad I didn't pay for listening to this. It is simply awful. It is just pathetic narcissist rambling, an ode to self. After an hour of listening I realized my eyes hurt from rolling them all the time. Furthermore, I think it's amazing that after so many spiritual journeys the only thing you obviously do not learn is how to be humble. I am so sorry I got to know him better thrpugh this because he is one of those people I would steer away from because of their black-hole-like personality.

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  • FA
  • 07-03-21

McConaughey hits it out of the park

Unputdownable book. What a journey. Thank you Matthew, for the laughs, the tears, the frivolous moments and the reflections. I'm borrowing a lot of the bumper stickers, perspectives and reflections. It's amazing how you put so many of my thoughts in your words. The icing on this cake was hearing you read it.