Book Review — A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future

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Title: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future: Twists and Turns and Lessons Learned
Author: Michael J. Fox
Publisher: Hyperion Audio Books
Edition: Audible Audio
Year: 2010

Yes, ladies and gentleman, I listened to a book that was not fiction. And Ilistened to a non-fiction book that was not about writing. No, as a matter of fact, I read an inspirational piece geared at recent college grads, written by a high school dropout.

Michael J. Fox is one of those celebrities that I can never get enough of. I think he’s a great guy. He didn’t do everything right life, but who does? Yes, I had a crush on Marty McFly as a kid, never mind the fact that the film came out the summer before I was born.

In his most recent book, Fox doesn’t set out to be prescriptive about what to do with your life after college. The closest thing to a message in this short 120-pager (or hour and a half listen) is to not run away from the bad things in life, but face them straight on, because you’ll have to face them eventually. Good advice, and certainly not new advice. I think most of us have heard it or something like it at one point or another. But when it comes from someone like Michael J. Fox, a true rags to riches Hollywood success story, who was told pretty dang early on in his career about PD, it does tend to hit home.

To start the book, he used a version of the rocks, sand, and jar story. I’d always heard the one that if you put the sand in first, the rocks wouldn’t fit, but if you do the rocks first, everything fits. His version was a little different. Start off by putting the rocks in. Is the jar full? Yes. Now fill it with the sand. Is the jar full now? Definitely yes. Now you open a can of beer (or your beverage of choice) and pour it in. Now is the jar full? Yes, now the jar is complete. You need room in your life for the the important things, the filler that aren’t quite as important but connect those rocks together, and leave a little room for beer. But don’t start with the beer; the beer should always come last.

That little analogy and his final words of advice are about as prescriptive as this book gets. The rest is Fox giving his opinions on how he received his life lessons. Listening to it, I reflected on how I got those same lessons, and that some of them I hadn’t hit yet. It didn’t reveal any big secrets about myself or give me any real guidance, but I think it did make me more aware of the importance of this time in anyone’s life, the importance of becoming a real adult.

Best thing about the book: the crap he got from people who thought Hover Boards were real. The worst thing about the book: it’s too short. I loved listening to it, I loved listening to Michael J. Fox read it himself, but I wanted more.

Grade: B

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