When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
First published January 12th, 2016
Genres: Nonfiction, Memoir, Medicine
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon
At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live.
When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a medical student asking what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity – the brain – and finally into a patient and a new father.
This was… Hard. And even that, it doesn’t really begin to explain how I feel after reading this.
This is the unfair story of Paul Kalanithi. He was a neurosurgeon in training when he was first diagnosed with fatal cancer. He rapidly passed from doctor to patient. He rapidly passed from a healthy young man to a sick young man. He did his best, and even when ill, went to work and tried to save lives. He did his best for himself, for others, for his family. He really seemed like a great person, and I believe this book really shows in very authentic, realistic and emotional way his journey, the meaning of life and what makes it worth living for.
I’m really not sure how to review this. I just feel like crying really. But one quote especially really stayed with me, and I think it’s important and really makes you think.
“This book carries the urgency of racing against time, of having important things to say.”
I mean, how much time do we have? We don’t know, we never know. And Paul was right, we should do what makes us happy, for him it was neurosurgery and his family, and well, literature. What makes you happy? Are you doing it, or are you on your way to achieving it?
This is a really honest and touching book, that will make you see things a bit differently, it will put your life in perspective, and will motivate you to reach your goals no matter how much time you have left. Don’t wait for life to strike you down, for you to be able to see what is worth living for.
I don’t know what to say more, I feel that I can’t really put into words how I’m feeling right now, just read this, really. There’s so much to get from this book… And although it’s hard to read and an overall bittersweet / utterly sad book, I would highly recommend reading it.
Have you read this yet? What do you think of it? Let’s discuss it in the comments below!