Published by Random House on January 12, 2016
At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.
What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.
I’m back again with yet another book review. Yes, I know I need to slow down with the book reviews and actually write a real posts on here that has to do with real things. Trust me when I say that I’m working on it and I mean that in the deepest sense of the word. As I hunker down for the many books that I hope to read this year, I am glad to participate again in the Paper&Glam book club. I am also participating in another book club this year, but I’ll talk more about that in a later post.
The first book that Paper&Glam was reading was When Breath becomes air by Paul Kalanithi. I had never heard about this book before it appeared on the book list, but after doing some research I found several articles that he published as companions to his book as well as that he’s CupofJo’s brother in law! It was exciting to learn about all of this and to see all the connections.
I found all 228 pages of the book intriguing and breath taking in every sense of the word. Paul was able to mix the beauty and depth of the written word with the science behind it. I felt myself wandering through the tragicness of his life with both him and his family. I was gripped on every word, probably even more so than watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
The honesty from the book from the memories of his childhood to the first signs of the cancer to the difficulties that he and Lucy endured were incredible. I loved that Lucy added an epilogue to round off the book, it felt a bit more complete to have her words included in the book. I can’t say more praises about the book and about Paul’s words in the book. Though I will admit that because you know from reading articles on Paul Kalanithi that he loses his battle with cancer, so in that sense for anyone going through that I would tread carefully when approaching this book. Overall though I am definitely glad that I was able to read this book and expand my world a bit more.
Let me know if you have read this book and what you thought about it. I also added a Currently Reading section in my sidebar instead of the usual books I’ve read. If you have any recommendations for books I should read this year, let me know 🙂