When Breath Becomes Air
- Publish Date: 2016-01-12
- Binding: Hardcover
- Author: Paul Kalanithi
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER â¢Â For readers of Atul Gawande, Andrew Solomon, and Anne Lamott, this inspiring, exquisitely observed memoir finds hope and beauty in the face of insurmountable odds as an idealistic young neurosurgeon attempts to answer the question What makes a life worth living?
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BYÂ
THE WASHINGTON POSTÂ â¢ THE NEW YORK TIMES â¢ NPR
BOOKS FOR A BETTER LIFE AWARD FINALIST
At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decadeâs 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 Kalanithiâs transformation from a naÃ¯ve medical student âpossessed,â as he wrote, âby the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful lifeâ 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.
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. âI began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,â he wrote. âSeven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: âI canât go on. Iâll go on.ââ When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both.
Praise for When Breath Becomes Air
âI guarantee that finishing this book and then forgetting about it is simply not an option. . . . Part of this bookâs tremendous impact comes from the obvious fact that its author was such a brilliant polymath. And part comes from the way he conveys what happened to himâpassionately working and striving, deferring gratification, waiting to live, learning to dieâso well.ââJanet Maslin, The New York Times
âAn emotional investment well worth making: a moving and thoughtful memoir of family, medicine and literature. It is, despite its grim undertone, accidentally inspiring.ââThe Washington Post
âPossesses the gravity and wisdom of an ancient Greek tragedy . . . [Kalanithi] delivers his chronicle in austere, beautiful prose. The book brims with insightful reflections on mortality that are especially poignant coming from a trained physician familiar with what lies ahead.ââThe Boston Globe
âDevastating and spectacular . . . [Kalanithi] is so likeable, so relatable, and so humble, that you become immersed in his world and forget where itâs all heading.ââUSA Today
âItâs [Kalanithiâs] unsentimental approach that makes When Breath Becomes Air so originalâand so devastating. . . . Its only fault is that the book, like his life, ends much too early.ââEntertainment Weekly
âSplit my head open with its beauty.ââCheryl Strayed