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Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  16,386 Ratings  ·  1,319 Reviews
There are many words to describe Michael J. Fox: Actor. Husband. Father. Activist. But readers of Always Looking Up will soon add another to the list: Optimist. Michael writes about the hard-won perspective that helped him see challenges as opportunities. Instead of building walls around himself, he developed a personal policy of engagement and discovery: an emotional, psy ...more
Hardcover, 276 pages
Published September 1st 2008 by Hyperion
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Best Memoir / Biography / Autobiography
301st out of 3,306 books — 3,778 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 10, 2010 Jason rated it liked it
When I eat lunch out by myself during the work week so I can read a book, I typically expect to be left alone. Having your head stuck in a book is not a smile at someone to encourage interaction.

But reading Always Looking Up with its author Michael J Fox on the cover while out last week caused two people to stop me to share a brief story! One man likely had Parkinson's disease (PD), and noted that he had read Michael J Fox's first book and was eager to read the one I held; the other person told
Jun 03, 2009 rjp316 rated it it was ok
Found most of the book to be very boring. I admire Fox for not letting PD take rule his life and using his celebrity status to bring money and research to find a cure. However most of this book was not very personal or about been in optimistic person – it was about how he created his foundation and the politics involved – especially lobbying of stem cell research (which I do not support – embryonic that is other kinds are fine). His section on faith – was not really about what type of faith he h ...more
Mar 17, 2009 Susan added it
Part memoir, part political argument, part medical story, this is a well-written, touching, Surprise! It's a book!

Jun 25, 2009 Cathy rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Listening to it as an audio book really added a lot to the experience; hearing Michael's stories in his own voice was terrific. I learned a lot about Michael, from his perspective on family life to his growth in his career. Did you guys know that Tracy is Jewish and that the family (including Michael) has been very involved in a Reform temple in NY since his son was born? Of course, a chunk of the book deals with his illness and how he deals with that, but the book is about mu ...more
Mr. Z
Apr 07, 2009 Mr. Z rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone looking for inspiration to make good things happen with their lives
Recommended to Mr. Z by: Happened upon it at the store
As a kid, I admired Michael J. Fox for his role as a likable, honest and funny star of “Family Ties.” I didn’t realize it then, but I was witnessing one of America’s last true role models as it entered a more modern era of surprisingly low standards among celebrity lessons geared toward the youth.

As a teenager, I admired Michael J. Fox for his role as an adventurous, humorous, modest, skateboarding, guitar-playing, girl-getting famous actor in his “Back to the Future” trilogy of movies. I didn’t
Mar 05, 2011 John rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography, film
In Michael J. Fox's movies, I loved how he was always able to play unassuming, normal characters and then inject them with a certain heroic quality that I think arose from his own inner-passions and zest for life. He radiated "cool" in a seemingly effortless way, which is a nice change of pace from the usual sexed-up, overly made-up, unlikeable crop of young actors that have become the norm in Hollywood. Unfortunately, in this, Fox's second book, he comes across as every inch the celebrity, maki ...more
Barb Middleton
Aug 01, 2013 Barb Middleton rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, adult
This story is more like looking at merchandise through a store's glass window than owning it. Michael J. Fox lives a different life than the average person and even with Parkinson's it is hard to relate to his experiences. What I like about children's books on disabilities, such as "Wonder" or "Paperboy," is that I can relate to the main characters and their feelings. In the end, they are just kids with feelings most kids experience - myself included. I can't do this with Fox. In the end, he's a ...more
Jan 07, 2010 Nikki-ann rated it it was amazing
Shelves: auto-biography
Always Looking Up is a very fitting title to this, the 2nd autobiography by Michael J. Fox. He's a short man, so he's "always looking up", but it's not just that... He's also eternally optimistic and full of hope.

Michael J. Fox is... was... a Hollywood actor cut short (sorry!) in his prime by a devastating disease... Parkinson's Disease. But he's decided that he isn't going to let that stop him! While acting is increasingly difficult to do with the symptoms of PD (Parkinson's Disease), Michael p
Aug 01, 2009 Lain rated it it was ok
I love MJF and respect his work. But I just couldn't get through this book. I found it disjointed, hard to follow, and confusing. It seemed to jump around in space and time, and I couldn't get a handle on a continuous thread. I put it down halfway through the "Politics" chapter. I would have appreciated a primer on stem cell research to help make everything make sense. Instead he jumps right in with politician names, scientific details, and no explanations.

It would have been better if he just f
Apr 15, 2009 Irene rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people interested in Parkinson's
Shelves: biography-memoir
A really easy and satisfying read. Always Looking Up picks up where Lucky Man leaves off, both in content and time. Once again, I am struck by Michael J. Fox's writing abilities. He writes with grace and wit, even humor (especially when he writes about being a father). As in Lucky Man, he jumps around chronologically, so you really want to read the date at the beginning of each passage, if you want to put events into context.

This book focuses primarily on Fox's experiences with Parkinson's Disea
Jun 13, 2009 Claudia rated it it was amazing
It is an unbelievably personal, poignant, and moving book. He describes four pillars in his life: Work, Politics, Faith, and Family. In each he describes people he’s met, ranging from “ordinary” people to Lance Armstrong to George Stephanopoulos to Muhammad Ali to Pete Townsend and Bruce Springsteen (the latter two of which he’s played guitar on stage with). Each story, each place, each memory is replete with humor, grace, and truthfulness. He describes his personal daily struggles with Parkinso ...more
Dec 04, 2013 Alana rated it really liked it
If Lucky Man: A Memoir was a coming-of-age tale, then Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist is the story of a man learning even more about who he is not only as a man, but his place in the world as a human being. It's more "adult," insomuch as Fox more fully fleshes out his thoughts on those touchy subjects (politics and faith in particular) and he continues to reveal more of his heart on all subject important to him.

Regardless of more recent events, seeing the inspiration a
Jan 29, 2011 Jinky rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
This is the second autobiography that Mr. Fox (kinda weird to be so formal considering I had posters of him all over my bedroom wall as a giddy teenager) wrote. The first titled Lucky Man, which I haven't read. This one basically memoirs his life after retiring from his hit TV sitcom, Spin City in 2000. He divided this book into four parts: work, politics, faith, and family.

Non-fiction books can be a tedious read so finding an interesting subject becomes essential. Needless to say, Michael J. F
Feb 23, 2010 Ken rated it liked it
One of a handful of celebrities with the misfortune to be stricken with PD, he has turned his situation into a battle cry to fight the disease. This short bio explains what this journey has meant to his career and family, while forcing him into the unfamiliar territory of politics. It's amazing that he's able to stay positive and keep his humor, but after finishing this book it becomes much clearer. He obviously loves his family and is a determined soul. It's the same determination that drove h ...more
Apr 28, 2009 Nichole rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs
If only I could be as clear-headed, positive, open, and thoughtful in my every day life as this author is as he battles a deadly disease. ALWAYS LOOKING UP is not a celebrity memoir. It is considered journey through the past ten years of living life with Parkinson's Disease. But it isn't a downer or heavy on the medical details. Fox shows instead how living with PD has affected the way he views family, faith, life, and politics. And he writes eloquently and movingly on each topic and is a fantas ...more
May 09, 2009 Amanda rated it really liked it
Fox intrigues me simply because he went the opposite direction with his Parkinson's diagnosis than my dad did with his. After reading this book, I'm more impressed than ever. Fox began exhibiting symptoms of PD when he was 29 but brushed them off as overexertion. The actual PD diagnosis brought a some depression and a time of keeping it to himself. He continued to act on Spin City until the symptoms just couldn't be contained anymore.

This book is divided up into 4 sections: Work, Politics, Faith
Sep 06, 2011 Chezon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parkinson's patients, those who need inspiration, fathers
Recommended to Chezon by: iamjallen
It was a lot more political than I assumed it would be. There were also a number of unexpected religious passages. I got it hoping to be inspired. It doesn't disappoint. However, it was not the type of inspiration I thought I would receive. He doesn't offer colorful insights into how to live your life better. Instead, he openly discusses the transformation his life has taken: from being a reckless young Hollywood actor, to being a family man with Parkinson, to becoming a spokesperson for Parkins ...more
May 28, 2009 Tami rated it it was ok
After seeing Michael J. Fox's television special on optimism, I was expecting more of the same from this book. After all, the subtitle is "Adventures of an Incurable Optimist". It would have been more aptly subtitled, "Adventures of a Political Activist". Not that there's anything wrong with that...had I been looking for a book chronicling the political lobbying of stem cell research (which I happen to believe is a worthy cause) this would have nicely fit the bill. The chapter on politics is the ...more
Dixie LoCicero
Jan 10, 2011 Dixie LoCicero rated it it was amazing
I read this book for the 2nd time because I admire his optimism and enjoy his outlook on life. I wanted to start the New Year out on a positive note! The book covers his last season of Spin City, when he realized he needed to retire and how it was a difficult choice, but the right one. He then became very involved in pushing for stem cell research and speaking out on behalf of all those who suffer various diseases, especially Parkinson's. It is amazing how his marriage became even stronger throu ...more
If you want to read a great book by a heartfelt and honest optimist, give this a read.

This follow-up memoir to Fox's LUCKY MAN is even better than its predecessor. Relentlessly first person, Fox lets you into his head on matters of life, politics, faith, and family. While his Parkinson's disease is ever part of the equation, his deft humor remains the constant in this book. Don't go looking for behind-the-scenes info on Hollywood or acting here; this book is tightly focused on Fox's personal li
Feb 25, 2011 Carol. rated it liked it
Shelves: auto-biography
Enjoyed it. A fast read. I don't normally read many memoir types, but as a nurse, I find his story of living with a potentially debilitating illness impressive. He divides the book into subject areas of politics, faith and family, which means the story is not focused on an overall evolution. In some ways, it makes it less coherent of a narrative, but he can tell his story any way he likes. It was also interesting to get his person insight into some of the national issues he got involved with, sp ...more
Kelly  Schuknecht
Jun 15, 2015 Kelly Schuknecht rated it it was amazing
Shelves: humor
I listened to the audiobook format of this book, and I almost cried through the entire first chapter. I have fond memories of Michael J. Fox from my childhood -- watching him in Family Ties, Teen Wolf and all of the Back to the Future movies. I remember when the news came out about him being diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease (or "PD" as he refers to it throughout the book). It was shocking and sad. What made me cry through the first chapter, though, was not the sadness of it, but instead my own ...more
Jun 04, 2015 Marla rated it did not like it
It's decided. After seeing this book sit on my shelf for over a year and half unfinished, I'm closing shop. I hate to say it, but I can't bring myself to finish it.
In Michael J. Fox's defense, I enjoyed most of the first few chapters. Fox wrote in detail his struggles with Parkinson's disease, and it granted me a view of a completely different world. This I do appreciate about his book.
However, after Fox explains the progress of establishing his foundation (another interesting part I enjoyed re
Oct 20, 2009 Andrew rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir, 2009
I don't know what I was expecting when I picked this up, but it certainly wasn't what I got. I know the subtitle is "Adventures of an Incurable Optimist", but I didn't realize just how fully that phrase embodies Fox and the way he lives his life.

I have not read Fox's other book, and to be honest, I always thought he was just kind of a walking joke. Good with humor, but not much else. I admit I was saddened when he announced publicly that he had Parkinson's, and that he was leaving "Spin City", b
Jul 02, 2013 J.M. rated it really liked it
I will admit that, when I picked up this book, I thought it was an autobiography about Fox's life. Instead this is apparently the second autobiographical book he's written, and the stuff I know him best for (pre-Spin City) must be in the first volume.

That said, I really enjoyed this book. I loved Fox's voice -- it was informed and casual, and made me feel as if we were just shooting the breeze after dinner while he told me stories of his life. The bulk of the book deals with his Parkinson's diag
Jul 23, 2012 Lisa rated it liked it
I just finished reading Michael J. Fox’s “Always Looking Up” and I feel rather ambivalent. When I bought the book (which I honestly only bought because it was in the bargain section), I thought that, because of the title, it would be a book about optimism. While optimism and hope were themes mentioned throughout the book, they weren’t as pervasive of topics that I had hoped. Instead, “Always Looking Up” read more like an abbreviated biography of Fox’s life post his Parkinson’s diagnosis. Specifi ...more
Michael Bond
Sep 03, 2013 Michael Bond rated it liked it
Always Looking Up by Michael J. Fox was a novel that reflected on the life of this incredible man. Split up into four parts, this book breaks down the parts of his life that many readers can relate to. The four toipics are Work, Politics, Faith, and Family. Michael J. Fox, as most people know, was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, or PD. All of these topics somehow are affected by this horrible disease, and the ways Michael hurdles the obstacles ahead of him inspire many. Work, if it isn't obv ...more
Mar 24, 2012 Heather rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, celebrities
I've always liked and admired Michael J. Fox as an actor, and after reading this I am just as impressed with him as a real person. I was amazed by how down-to-earth he seems in "Always Looking Up." He's good at clearly stating his views without showing disrespect for those who oppose him. He could easily be bitter about those who attack him, but instead he stays calm and doesn't resort to the tactics some of his opposition does. He's also very humble and realizes that as a celebrity with tons of ...more
Mar 30, 2010 Lavonne rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Michael J. Fox has every reason to be depressed and bitter, yet he takes the opposite view of everything and everyone in his life. I found this biography much better written than others I have recently read, but I do believe he had a ghost writer. That's okay, it's still an amazing narative of an amazing journey.

I truly enjoyed his views on other celebs, such as Muhammad Ali, a man who is still performing magic tricks to amuse others despite the ravages of Parkinson's, or Robin Williams, who Mic
Dec 08, 2013 Cara rated it really liked it
Actual score 3.5.

This book sucked me in from the start, and it's been a while since I've felt engrossed enough in a story to want to finish a book quickly. If you're after a straight forward autobiography, you may be disappointed, but I can't say that was why I picked up the book. It's an interesting insight into how the worlds of celebrity and the politics of 'causes' meet, and nice to see the positive effects that celebrity can have on raising money and in making a genuine positive impact on
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Canadian/American film and television actor.

His roles include Marty McFly from the Back to the Future trilogy (1985–1990); Alex P. Keaton from Family Ties (1982–1989), for which he won three Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award; and Mike Flaherty from Spin City (1996–2000), for which he won an Emmy, three Golden Globes, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards. He also starred in Doc Hollywood and Secr
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“I have no argument with those who see in organized religion a template or an imperative to live life according to a prescribed set of beliefs. Just give others the room, within the laws of civil society, to believe or not believe whatever they like.” 25 likes
“You suffer the blow, but you capitalize on the opportunity left in its wake.” 22 likes
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