Books Reviews

Book Review: When Breath Becomes Air By Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air is a non-fiction autobiographical book written by Paul Kalanithi. It is a memoir about his life and illness, battling stage IV metastatic lung cancer.  It was posthumously published by Random House on January 12, 2016.

The Review

I didn’t know what to expect before reading this book but it was a highly recommended read from a friend. When I finished the book, I cried and it felt like I had lost a friend. When Breath Becomes Air is not a prescriptive book about what to do in the face of inevitable death and it doesn’t need to be. Paul’s honesty and raw emotions throughout his journey are what makes this book remarkable. How do you deal with the news that cuts short all the hard work that you’ve spent a decade working on? The way he lived his life in the aftermath is nothing short of inspiring and this book is a testament to a life well-lived.

Not only is Paul a brilliant neurosurgeon, he is undoubtedly a gifted writer. He is well-read and the literature references throughout took me down memory lane. He died before finishing this moving memoir but I walked away inspired to think about deep questions about my life and the choices I make. There are those who live beyond death because of their actions, words, and legacy. This book is the beautiful legacy he’s left behind for his daughter.

Top Three Quotes 

“I began to realise that coming in such close contact with my own mortality had changed both nothing and everything. Before my cancer was diagnosed, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. After the diagnosis, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. But now I knew it acutely. The problem wasn’t really a scientific one. The fact of death is unsettling. Yet there is no other way to live.”

“One of the early meanings of patient is: ‘One who endures hardship without complaint.”

“Any neurosurgical problem forces a patient and family, ideally with a doctor as a guide, to answer this question: What makes life meaningful enough to go on living?”


✯✯✯✯✯- Life Companion. Thank me later!

Guide to Book Review Rating
✯ – Meh
✯✯ – Read at your own risk
✯✯✯ – Hit and Miss
✯✯✯✯- Hooked
✯✯✯✯✯- Life Companion. Thank me later!


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