When Breath Becomes Air


When Breath Becomes Air: Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air is an extremely moving memoir of a man who has always been intrigued with the idea of death but, at the age of 40, is forced to suddenly come face-to-face with death when he is diagnosed with lung cancer. What is so interesting about this book is that the author is a neurosurgeon so he writes on the topic of death as a physician and a patient. This book about his very personal path of dealing and coming to terms with his own mortality and his looming death, but he does write as a loose guide to everyone about how this experience was for him but allows for the realistic possibility that the path to death will differ for everyone. I thought this book was fantastic as it was heartbreaking.

The author explores a concept in the book that I loved which was, death is something that is inevitable for everyone. For those who are young, death is something that seems so far away that we don’t concern ourselves with it; for those who are older, it is something that seems more pressing, or something that is considered so your assets and dependents can be sorted and documented, that they can be safe when you pass. The author was at the height of his career with a loving wife and a future they had planned out together when he made his own diagnoses. The feelings that the author takes the readers through when he confirmed that devastating discovery is so real and I found that this book does make you think a little more about death. While I am young, that does not make me exempt from death. Today, tomorrow, a week from now or years from now, anything could happen to me that will put my perceived future, as I know it, into question. This book makes you think about big questions that I know some people don’t like to consider that that is totally fine. I loved this book, I thought it was so well written and so vulnerable; I was gripped until the very end. I would highly recommend this book to anyone especially those like me who love reading and talking about those big questions.


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