When breath becomes air by Paul Kalanithi

Hi everyone, this last week’s review post is an adult non-fiction title which deviates ever so slightly from the general theme for the month. You see, the author passed away before his book was to be published and never got to see how much of an impact his amazing book would have on the world. I hope that’s enough to get you to continue as this book is…well…you will have to read on to find out!

pale pink book cover background with large letters across. small blue feather in middle. letters read When Breath Becomes Air Paul Kalanithi
An engaging read!

Title: When breath becomes air

Author: Paul Kalanithi

Genre: Biography

Publication details: Random House; NY, 2016

ISBN: 9780399590405   (Paperback)

What this book is about: At the age of 36, 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. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student into a  neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, 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 memoir. Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. This memoir is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both. 

My review:  A truly powerful read on what makes our lives worth living!! Paul’s words resonate with the truth of what it means to live and to face the certainty that is death. The backstory of his journey to neurosurgery was inspirational and fascinating. The chapters where detailed explanations were describing medical procedures were a bit too technical for me. The parts I liked the most were the ones where his family life was described. I must have read them with tears pouring down my face!! A mesmerising read from a brilliant mind taken from us too soon!! 

My rating: 4 ⭐

Additional notes: This title won the Goodreads Choice Award for Memoir and Autobiography in 2016 and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Biography/Autobiography in 2017 along with the Wellcome Book Prize and countless others.

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