When Breath Becomes Air by Paul KalanithiWhen Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithisticker-burst

When Breath Becomes Air

byPaul Kalanithi

Hardcover | January 12, 2016

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST • 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 BY
The New York Times Book Review • People • NPR • The Washington Post • Slate • Harper’s Bazaar • Esquire • Time Out New York • Publishers Weekly • BookPage

Finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award in Creative Nonfiction and the Books for a Better Life Award in Inspirational Memoir

At the age of thirty-six, 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. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” 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. “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’” 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

“I guarantee that finishing this book and then forgetting about it is simply not an option. . . . Part of this book’s 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 him—passionately working and striving, deferring gratification, waiting to live, learning to die—so well.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“An emotional investment well worth making: a moving and thoughtful memoir of family, medicine and literature. It is, despite its grim undertone, accidentally inspiring.”The Washington Post

“Possesses 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.”The Boston Globe

“Devastating and spectacular . . . [Kalanithi] is so likeable, so relatable, and so humble, that you become immersed in his world and forget where it’s all heading.”USA Today
Paul Kalanithi was a neurosurgeon and writer. He grew up in Kingman, Arizona, and graduated from Stanford University with a BA and MA in English literature and a BA in human biology. He earned an MPhil in history and philosophy of science and medicine from the University of Cambridge and graduated cum laude from the Yale School of Medi...
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Title:When Breath Becomes AirFormat:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 7.8 × 5.6 × 0.9 inPublished:January 12, 2016Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:081298840X

ISBN - 13:9780812988406

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really humbles you... Questions all of us have to face about our own mortality (sometimes not an easy thing to do), he gives his most honest insights.
Date published: 2017-10-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sad and uplifting I loved this autobiography. It is essentially a father's love letter to his daughter, a husband's love letter to his wife, a man's love letter to science and humanity. I was utterly moved.
Date published: 2017-10-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Spectacular Hauntingly sad while also mercilessly beautiful. An ode to his future daughter. Amazing to see a doctors perspective on life, death and ultimately cancer.
Date published: 2017-10-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Inspiring This is a book about resilience an the human spirit. It is kind and smart. Keep tissues near
Date published: 2017-10-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very moving This book is thought provoking and moving. It puts aspects of life into perspective.
Date published: 2017-10-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing An awesome read and very thought provoking.
Date published: 2017-09-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it Took my breath away, very thought provoking
Date published: 2017-09-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing Beautifully written. Very inspiring and heartbreaking.
Date published: 2017-09-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Tragic and Beautiful There is no way to prepare yourself for this book, an absolute must-read.
Date published: 2017-09-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautifully written, but heartbreaking Dr. Kalanithi's story is exceedingly sad, but he approached it and wrote about it with such grace. I appreciate that he shared even the messy parts of his story. This was a difficult but important read.
Date published: 2017-09-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful read This book is very well written. It will definitely put life into perspective and make you appreciate life and everyone around you. Cherish the little things in life because you never know what life has in store.
Date published: 2017-09-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An amazing book A powerful read. I would highly recommended it.
Date published: 2017-09-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Amazing Read Read this book within a week, it is a heavy read and will leave you in tears. A beautifully written book that makes you appreciate and value life
Date published: 2017-09-12
Rated 2 out of 5 by from too heavy I couldn't get through it. It is heart-breaking-ly sad.
Date published: 2017-09-12
Rated 2 out of 5 by from ok It was okay, but not on my recommendations.
Date published: 2017-09-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from great I really enjoyed this - what a great story - it really makes you think!
Date published: 2017-08-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Proves you MUST Live every day as if it is your last Wonderful novel. Amazing that Dr. Kalanithi had the desire and willpower to tell his story with such power while fighting the fight of his life. Inspirational
Date published: 2017-08-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful read! Really great read and heartwarming to the very end.
Date published: 2017-08-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible read! This book was an extremely powerful read. It really provides a person with a whole new perspective for life and its little details that we often take for granted.
Date published: 2017-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from absolutely beautiful Such an amazing read! Even if you're not an avid reader, I would suggest you to give this a go. I felt all kinds of emotions after reading this book - inspired, inadequate, thankful for life and fired-up passion for literature.Tear jerker, seriously cannot recommend it enough.
Date published: 2017-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A necessity for the bookshelf This tear-jerking, heart-moving, can't put down book has made a permanent place in my heart. Dr. Kalanithi's voice regarding his illness, medical journey and family tensions raises genuine conflicts many doctors face during the strenuous process of obtaining an MD. Dr. Kalanithi beautifully articulates what happens when the doctor becomes the patient. You will not be disappointed with this fabulous read!
Date published: 2017-08-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A new perspective A great read about someone living their life to the fullest. Would read again and again!
Date published: 2017-08-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Life changing After having read a biography of a deceased author written by himself, makes you want to pursue all that you want in life. Paul beautifully wrote about his struggle and was not afraid to put his vulnerability in public. Absolutely beautiful book.
Date published: 2017-08-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful Beautiful, emotional, and thoughtful. Highly recommended
Date published: 2017-08-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Decent A touching book. Chronically the life of a neurosurgeon neuroscientist, who is sadly diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in his 30s. Sad, touching, and uplifting...
Date published: 2017-07-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Book! Definitely a book to read, especially if you are in a health care related profession.
Date published: 2017-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Touching and Beautiful Absolutely amazing. I bought this book a while back and always recommend it to anyone looking for suggestions. It truly touched my heart and I have already reread it because it is such a beautiful story.
Date published: 2017-07-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thought-provoking This small book is well worth a read. Very real and honest; definitely makes you think.
Date published: 2017-07-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Book! I recommend this book to everyone. Paul takes you threw his journey to understand the meaning of life. What is important? If you are mentally strong enough to read threw someones struggle to fight cancer this book is more that just Paul and his family's struggle. It is finding the true meaning of life. Love love love the quality in Paul's writing. I bought this book for everyone I know. A must read.
Date published: 2017-07-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Emotionally Affecting, Smart, Sensitive, Helpful paul kalanithi had a lifelong curiosity about what gives existence meaning. he studied english and biology at university, before enrolling in medicine, thinking there were both artistic and biological contributions. setting his path on neurosurgery, he hoped to find what really mattered in life. 'when breath becomes air' is an emotionally affecting read. i found it very interesting and helpful, in many ways. it is impressive to me that kalanithi was able to write this while enduring his cancer and treatments (he is very clear about the levels of pain and the horrendous side-effects and complications he had to deal with), then returning to work, planning a family with his wife (then pursuing IVF to help make it happen)... and all the other normal things that add chaos to life. his grit and drive while so gravely ill are remarkable. the book feels very focused and determined, and i hope it provided a very helpful distraction to kalanithi during his last months. that he had such clarity of purpose during this time in his life is an impressive thing to me. i was very moved by how kalanithi's family cocooned him during this time - should everyone be so fortunate in situations like this - while providing the listening, support, and love that helped sustain him. i very much appreciated the different perspectives between kalanithi's roles - first as a successful neurosurgeon, and then as a patient navigating the system, his own choices and decisions. kalanithi died before he fully completed the book -- but he entrusted his wife, parents, and editors to ensure it would be published. it's a role they all took seriously, though there is some clunkiness in the prose that could have used a bit of smoothing (only noting because some moments in the book are so profound and beautiful, but then you'd hit a clunker of a line. so it was noticeable to me as i was reading.) the book does not at all feel unfinished. lucy kalanithi - a doctor of internal medicine, and paul's wife - provides an epilogue which helps round out not only the book, but her husband's personality. the completely lovely introduction is provided by abraham verghese. kalanithi hoped his book would help people -- i think he has succeeded here wonderfully.
Date published: 2017-07-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful Wow. So tragic, yet so uplifting! Must read!
Date published: 2017-07-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from When breath becomes air Emotional and thoughtfully written book.
Date published: 2017-06-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A heartwrenchingly beautiful story! A very compelling and easy read. While sad in nature, I found it to be very inspirational and it was written beautifully. A book for everyone.
Date published: 2017-06-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beautiful Read Easy to read and get sucked into.
Date published: 2017-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely beautiful book This book is by far my favorite. From the moment I picked it up, to the moment I finished it in tears, it made me think about so many different aspects of life and consider the small things that are worth it. It would have been an honor to have met such a courageous and wonderful man. Books like these are read 10x over, by myself and family & friends. It's just too good to keep to myself.
Date published: 2017-06-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Insightful This book was such an insightful view into the world of medicine and allows people to gain different perspectives on the health care system. This especially resonated with me as my grandmother is currently in the hospital. A great read for care takers.
Date published: 2017-06-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from it made me cry I really looked forward to reading this, and was not disappointed. Toward the end, I ended up breaking out in tears. Even as a surgeon, he felt powerless when it came to his disease. In the end, surgeons are humans too.
Date published: 2017-06-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing I don`t even know what to say about this book to convey what a must read it is. It is so well written and really thought provoking. Great book.
Date published: 2017-06-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book Beautiful story, interesting perspective. A must read.
Date published: 2017-06-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Eye opener Beautiful story and very well written. Good cry.
Date published: 2017-06-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Liked it Really greAt memoir. I recommend this to anyone who wants a good cry.
Date published: 2017-06-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must read A sad but beautiful story as stories of death often are. Lovingly and beautifully written from an interesting perspective. So glad I read this humbling memoir.
Date published: 2017-06-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Great Read! This book definitely gives you a different perspective on life. Wonderfully written.
Date published: 2017-05-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Worth your time and consideration Reading Paul Kalanithi's words gives you the opportunity to see what happens to your goals and priorities when you realize you have a finite amount of time left. A must-read.
Date published: 2017-05-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from beautiful story a heart wrenching story and a real eye opener #plumreview
Date published: 2017-05-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best books that you will ever read. Ever wondered what happens when a doctor becomes terminally ill? This book will probably be one of the best books that you will ever read. It highlights the harsh reality of being a cancer patient -- especially when that patient is a nationally renowned neurosurgeon, who was forced to question his own mortality in the face of imminent death.
Date published: 2017-05-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I never cry...but this time I did! I could not put this book down. It is an emotional roller coaster but well worth the ride. The final chapter is a tear jerker! The reoccurring theme of “What makes your life worth living?” causes you to look inward to answer the question!
Date published: 2017-05-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Heartbreaking story This is such a wonderful book. It is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. The author shares his views on what it is like to go from being a celebrated doctor to a patient diagnosed with lung cancer. The shift from the white coat to the patient gown. There is so much honesty in the author's words and it is truly inspirational to read about his thoughts about life and death. Highly recommended!
Date published: 2017-05-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Read it, and you'll know why it's a bestseller, too. Honesty, heartbreak, and hope--you'll find it all in this moving book that shares the intimate story and struggles of a young doctor with a terminal illness. Worth the read. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-05-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Genuine Honest and unpretentious. Terrifying perspective :(.
Date published: 2017-05-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from tragic yet captivating in love with this book! very subtle way of writing and once you are in the zone you cannot just put this book back until its done! especially the connection he had with his baby ....its just heartbreaking and yet heart warming at the same time.
Date published: 2017-05-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting Interesting to see how the tables turn when a doctor becomes the patient. The writer writes with a great sense of humour.
Date published: 2017-04-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good Read I enjoyed this book from start to finish.
Date published: 2017-04-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Book Excellent book to help you realize life is short and what really matters.
Date published: 2017-04-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Everyone should read this book Such a fantastic read, couldn't put it down. Cried the entire last 40 pages because it's sad but so beautifully written. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-04-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible Book! Loved this book and how it dives into the meanings of life and what makes a life worth living through the eyes of a medical student, surgeon and eventual patient. It was an easy read, as if someone is just speaking to you and yet numerous messages and life lessons are passed on.
Date published: 2017-04-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A definite page turner! This book is a wonderful reminder of finding your own meaning of life! A beautiful story and beautifully written!
Date published: 2017-04-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Super read, I quite enjoyed it. Super read, I quite enjoyed it.
Date published: 2017-04-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible Best read in two sittings - life and imminent death. The first part was fascinating with Paul describing his early life, medical school, anatomy labs and hospital residency. The second part was cancer heavy, as was Paul's life. It was interesting to see how he acted as doctor and patient in an extremely difficult situation. The afterword from his wife was touching and summed up their life together wonderfully.
Date published: 2017-04-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Spoke to my Soul As someone with a chronic illness who's been through a lot and experienced the deep emotions that come with being a deathrisk patient, this book meant everything to me. Paul does a fantastic job of merging his perspectives from pre-illness and doctor and from being a cancer patient. I loved that he had been a lifelong chaser of meaning and always was interested in how to best live a life. It gives him credibility that most similar stories don't have. If I were to critique this book in any way, I'd say that you might need to have the same sort of pre-existing interest in death and its meaning to fully enjoy the book. As well, the language used is so highly intellectual that it takes a reread in some paragraphs to digest them. It's entirely worth it but it does make the book a bit less of a mindless relaxing read. I believe the book offers something unique and would highly recommend it for that reason. It's also fairly short for all it's depth.
Date published: 2017-04-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! I could not put the book down. It was so interesting to see this physician's perspective on what is happening to him. I for sure recommend this.
Date published: 2017-03-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved this book! It's a very great and detailed read! I enjoyed every bit of it, and I never really could stop reading. This book is a real page turner and very time consuming. I recommend it to anyone who hasn't read it yet!
Date published: 2017-03-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this book so much A really great read, loved every bit of it
Date published: 2017-03-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from highly overrated We read this book in my book club and not one of us liked it. We picked it because of all the high ratings and it sounded like a good book... also some had read other books of hers but this one was no good. It was all over the place! when it finally settled on one story it ended! Some people couldn't even bring themselves to finish it.
Date published: 2017-03-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from great loved this book such a page turner
Date published: 2017-03-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Touching Such a beautifully written, truly gripping story!
Date published: 2017-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great powerful and great book #plumreview
Date published: 2017-03-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful Story about a Beautiful Soul I've had this book on my "To Read List" for quite sometime. I'm so glad I finally brought it with me to read on the road. An incredibly honest story about his journey playing doctor and Patient. It touches your heart and your soul. Paul Kalanithi's writing is simply beautiful.
Date published: 2017-03-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Recommended The prose in this book is absolutely beautiful.
Date published: 2017-03-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Favourite book of last year I devoured it in a weekend! Rich, beautiful, heartbreaking, and inspiring. It's a great gift to give others, too.
Date published: 2017-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful This book is just beautiful. I cried and cried but came out thinking that you have to live life to the fullest, you never know. So sad but so powerful.
Date published: 2017-03-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So Important This has been one of my favourite books of the last few years. Very beautifully written, giving unique insight to a tough situation.
Date published: 2017-03-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful This book is just beautiful. I cried and cried but came out thinking that you have to live life to the fullest, you never know. So sad but so powerful.
Date published: 2017-03-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AMAZING!! Phenomenal book that helped me shaped a new way of thinking about life! one of my favorite reads!
Date published: 2017-03-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My favourite read of 2017 Everyone should read this book! Both of my parents unfortunately have passed away from cancer and this book totally hit all the soft spots in me. I am telling everyone to go and read this book. It's going to make you cry and cry and cry so make sure you have some tissues near by.
Date published: 2017-03-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from i love it! Excellent language, well written. Enjoyed reading, at times heart wrenching and poignant memoir. A very personal journey very inspirational, courageous and very transforming.
Date published: 2017-03-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So important Best read in two sittings - life and imminent death. The first part was fascinating with Paul describing his early life, medical school, anatomy labs and hospital residency. The second part was cancer heavy, as was Paul's life. It was interesting to see how he acted as doctor and patient in an extremely difficult situation. The afterword from his wife was touching and summed up their life together wonderfully.
Date published: 2017-03-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Poignantly Written The unsurprising reality of death is portrayed in an eloquently written memoir by a writer with a true passion for the art. The reader is guided through an expedited journey to death, at the hands of an unfortunate turn of events for this intellectual and talented man. I found Kalanithi's homage to living life in the eclipse of looming death to be better even than Joan Didion's 'A Year of Magical Thinking'
Date published: 2017-03-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful What a beautiful and powerful read.
Date published: 2017-02-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from DO IT. WHAT THE AUTHOR LEFT US BEHIND BEFORE PARTING US IS AMAZING IF NOT WONDERFUL. How antagonizing it is for our loved ones to part ways so early. That’s what occurred to Paul Kalanithi and his family. Discover for yourself this man’s tragedy only to uncover a place so beautiful you will not be able to lay your eyes off of it. I read this book while listening to the free audiobook available online. It was the most awe aspiring book I’ve read in a good while.
Date published: 2017-02-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must read! I love this! I could not put this book down, as you follow closely on the last stages of Kalanithi's life. The memoir was beautifully written, inspiring and a great reflection to readers. A must read!
Date published: 2017-02-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from beautiful i don't know what to say except that this book is amazing
Date published: 2017-02-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from wow this is such a great book!
Date published: 2017-02-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Beautiful Read I borrowed this book from a friend and really enjoyed it. It reminded me a the last lecture which was also a beautiful book about life and death. My wish would be that everyone would read this and be reminded how fragile life is.
Date published: 2017-02-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wow.... A sad but inspring memoir about finding a life of meaning and facing death with courage and integrity. This was thoroughly enjoyable. A definite must read.
Date published: 2017-02-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Truly breathtaking This book was beyond what I expected, I sat in the store reading the first chapter and prologue and was hooked. It really changed my perspective on things, and i will definitely be re-reading many times after. Be prepared for this book to take you on an emotional journey, and its as if youre experience everything Paul was. Truly amazing.
Date published: 2017-02-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Made me cry I found this book in a free library in my neighborhood. I had never heard of it, and I honestly just grabbed it because I liked the cover (yes, I'm one of those). SO glad I did! I'm not a very emotional person. I can't say a book has ever made me cry, with actual tears streaming down my face, but this one did! It's such a beautiful, but heartbreaking story. A very short easy read. So worth picking up! I think anyone would enjoy this.
Date published: 2017-02-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing find! I am so grateful I stumbled upon this book. It was so touching and amazing. I want to recommend it to everyone I encounter. I am so thankful Kalanithi devoted time to this work of art. It has impacted me so much!!
Date published: 2017-02-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Book An excellent read that is difficult to put down.
Date published: 2017-02-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wonderful memoir Highly recommend for anyone in the health profession - it's heartbreaking the thought processes he goes through. There is quite a bit of medical jargon but Dr. Kalanathi does a good job breaking it down. There is also a lovely epilogue written at the end by his wife. Really wonderful book.
Date published: 2017-02-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read! Thought provoking and well written - highly recommended!
Date published: 2017-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from an extraordinary, challenging book This is so much more than just an accounting of a life and death. The author probes the meaning of life and in doing so, challenges the reader to do so as well. There are so many quotes that I took from this book, each of which prompted a meditation and reflection in my journal.
Date published: 2017-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Inspiring A very good read. A very touching story about a man who knows his fate.
Date published: 2017-02-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beautiful This is such a personal journey that it can't truly be rated. How does one rate another person's personal journey? Paul's story is a touching one, encompassing thoughts of morality, mortality, meaning and purpose. His illness and knowledge of consequent death brought these issues to the forefront for him, although they were always topics he pondered and considered. Paul's contemplation on these topics are warm, touching and forgiving of our human frailties. A very touching story and one to think about. My main take-away from this book was the journey one may need to take when faced with one's own death and how to face it with dignity and grace. .
Date published: 2017-02-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Will bring a tear to your eye at some point This memoir is a humbling reminder to really cherish the time we have, and forces you to look into the reality of passing on and what matters at the end of life. A must-read for anyone who feels they take life just a little bit for granted
Date published: 2017-02-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A beautiful story This is a must read book. Very powerful.
Date published: 2017-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautifully Written Bought this book and read it in one night. Very powerful and beautifully written. One of the best books I have read- powerful, moving and really puts things into perspective.
Date published: 2017-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Soulfull and Honest Never have I read a novel with who's author writes with such eloquence and ease as Paul Kalanathi. This memoir is terrifyingly honest and makes you weep for a man who's presence and persona touched and saved so many. Beautiful, devastating, be prepared- it will make you cry!
Date published: 2017-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must read This is by far the best book I've ever read. What a beautiful tragedy
Date published: 2017-01-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful So beautiful and sad at the same time. So emiotional
Date published: 2017-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Painfully Beautiful This is the only book that has made me cry the whole way through. At some points I couldn't read anymore because the words were blurred as my eyes filled up with tears. It is so beautifully written, Paul has a wonderfully lyrical voice to his writing. I knew I was going to finish the book very quickly but it's the kind of book that you don't want to finish because you want it to never end and at the same time you don't want it to end because it's excruciatingly painful, but, life isn't about avoiding suffering, it's about seeking meaning.
Date published: 2017-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing I just started it and it had already captured my full attention. I couldnt stop reading! Its a sad story, but a very intense one to. I would recomened it to just about everyone!!
Date published: 2017-01-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful book I've been wanting to get this book for such a long time, and I finally did! It's exactly what I expected it to be! So heartwarming, emotional, and such a beautiful book! Paul's take on life and death we're very meaningful and thought provoking. Definitely would recommend this.
Date published: 2017-01-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful Story Best book I read in 2016. So personal, and heartbreaking . But Beautiful. I am so grateful Paul Kalanithi shared his story with us. tears were shed on this one!
Date published: 2017-01-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful The book is beautifully written in a way that truly connects the reader to Paul's experiences in a real, non-sugarcoated way. He explains his struggle in a painfully honest and humble manner that makes it an even more intimate read. I don't want to spoil anything for anyone, but the last few paragraphs of the book lingered in the back of my mind for days after I'd finished reading. This is easily one of the most meaningful and impacting novels I've ever read.
Date published: 2017-01-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from well written Great book. Enjoyed reading it.
Date published: 2017-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thought provoking Great book, worth reading, take your time and reread the parts that need dissecting!
Date published: 2017-01-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved this book! This man had accomplished so much in his short life! What a beautiful but emotional story this is! I highly reccomend it!
Date published: 2017-01-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A MUST read Such a well-written story. Once started, it is hard to put down.
Date published: 2017-01-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from honest & intimate This book is like a piece of the author's soul- it is so intimate that I feel like I know him personally. He openly and honestly struggles with life's big questions: what is important, what is the meaning of life, and what happens after death. A rare and revealing read.
Date published: 2017-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down ! This was such a good book ! I cried reading the Epilogue .. It was so beautifully written. Makes you think about a lot of things!
Date published: 2017-01-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Heartwarming Really makes you think about what's important in life
Date published: 2017-01-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must Read I read this book in one sitting! So incredibly touching and real. Recommended by far!
Date published: 2017-01-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautifully written An excellent read for both the medical and non-medical community. Very touching.
Date published: 2017-01-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from easy to read, easy to love I feel like I was looking/expecting for something I didn't find or feel, but it was very beautiful nonetheless.
Date published: 2016-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Powerful Poignantly written. Will hit close to home for any physicians/medical professionals out there, while resonating with a wide audience of readers. Highly recommended, I will not forget this powerful read for a long time to come
Date published: 2016-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must Read! I cried reading this book, it's so heartbreakingly real, and beautiful, this book will definitely stay with you in the best way.
Date published: 2016-12-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This book made me cry The fact that this is a memoir, a non fiction, has major impacts on how I felt about this book. I really did sob because Klanithi just faced his own death with such courage. He taught me about how I will have to face my own death when it will come since every single person faces a race against time and life.
Date published: 2016-12-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent #plumreview So great must read for sure
Date published: 2016-12-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent #plumreview So great must read for sure
Date published: 2016-12-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Universal, must read I think this may be one of the most profound and touching books I've ever read. It was poignant because it spoke truth. It captured the essence of human character: always striving, while leaving a lasting impression on the reader.
Date published: 2016-12-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Powerful and Meaningful I just had to keep reading it! It was so well done!!
Date published: 2016-12-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from couldn't put it down Excellent book, couldn't put the book down. Very powerful
Date published: 2016-12-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Powerful Beautiful book. The author's background in English literature and neuroscience mix for a powerful blend of the philosophy and science, reflecting on his own mortality and that of his patients. This book will stay with you.
Date published: 2016-12-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good book but... Insightful into medicine but not quite what I expected.
Date published: 2016-12-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing book very touching and beautiful book, you won't regret it
Date published: 2016-12-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Breathtaking A wonderful story of strength and misery. The epilogue made it hard to keep it together.
Date published: 2016-12-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from great read. very moving. I highly recommend this book.
Date published: 2016-12-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Inspiring and meaningful Great and insightful read into Dr.Kalanithi's life as well as the demands of working as a health care provider.
Date published: 2016-12-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing This book was incredible. I felt smarter just reading it and becoming more knowledgeable with the medical terminology. I made sure to buy this for the book lovers in my family and they were not disappointed!
Date published: 2016-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from excellent very good book. A definite must.
Date published: 2016-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must Read! I read this book is one sitting the day I bought. It is really beautifully written and offers really fascinating thoughts on what it means to be a physician as well as life and death. Everyone should read this.
Date published: 2016-11-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautifully written, a book every person must read I read this book a few months ago and it has been on my mind a lot. Kalanithi has written so bravely about questions we don't want to talk about. Why does a patient want to know how long he has to live and why a doctor cannot give a good answer. What would you do if you had an year to live or few months? This book was strangely uplifting. Even when you are at the top of your world and you get what you think is the 'worst news', it is not as bad is you think. I can read it again and again.
Date published: 2016-11-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Such an emotional read Been a while since I've cried reading a book and this one definitely did that. :(
Date published: 2016-11-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent Really great book. At times you feel as though you are inside the Author's mind.
Date published: 2016-11-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read1 This was a great book, which I was able to read in one afternoon. As a health care professional myself, I recognize how difficult it is to confront our own mortality. Dr. Kalanithi did a great job in this book discussing his life, legacy, and hopes.
Date published: 2016-11-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An important read Best read in two sittings - life and imminent death. The first part was fascinating with Paul describing his early life, medical school, anatomy labs and hospital residency. The second part was cancer heavy, as was Paul's life. It was interesting to see how he acted as a doctor and patient in an extremely difficult situation. The afterword from his wife was touching and summed up their life together wonderfully.
Date published: 2016-11-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from FEEEEEEEELS As a neuroscience student and who is considering going into healthcare field in the future, this book has opened up my mind in so many ways. I finished the book in one day but had to take breaks in between to absorb all the emotions, feelings, knowledge in. A must read for all science students in my opinion, especially those who want to become a doctor. The book might not feel as powerful as it to me if you are not in the related field, but nevertheless, it sure will inspire everyone in some ways.
Date published: 2016-11-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from emotional book this book left me speechless!!! just wow
Date published: 2016-11-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An amazing and awesome book I enjoyed the main character. Bad things happen to good people. He is courageous and a great example to us all. Inspirational character. Enjoy the book as much as I did.
Date published: 2016-11-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Cried my eyes out Beautifully written. Reading the words made me feel every bit of love and pain.
Date published: 2016-11-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting #plumreview Good read. Very interesting. Made me cry.
Date published: 2016-11-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful A beautiful reflection on life. I couldn't put it down. Sad but ultimately hopeful. So well written. #plumreview
Date published: 2016-11-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Heartwarming! Such an amazing book. Beautifully written, and very captivating. It made me feel a wide range of emotions, and even made me cry. I've recommended this book to many people, and they too have loved the book. It makes you appreciate every moment of life that you're given.
Date published: 2016-11-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from WOW This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. The author shows incredible insight that many of us will never gain ourselves. It made me laugh and made me cry. Thank you Paul.
Date published: 2016-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Book! Read it in 1 sitting. Being a professional from the healthcare field, this perspective was absolutely touching to read. Seeing death, one thing that is a big part of reality, never really comes to be part of the daily conversation until it happens. Until you yourself experience that pain. This memoir makes you rethink about life and ensures that if you are taking it for granted....this book will make you rethink tat. There is a reason why it is a #1 NY Times Bestseller.
Date published: 2016-11-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Shifts your reality This book makes you laugh and cry at the same time. The heart-wrenching story and the acceptance of all things life can bring really provide a perspective on how valuable each moment is. Well written and a great read! Highly recommended.
Date published: 2016-11-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read This book is so beautifully written. It is heartbreaking to know that this will be his only book.
Date published: 2016-11-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I read it in one night I read this after a friend continued to recommend it to me. I didn't put it down. What an accomplished man and quite the loss
Date published: 2016-11-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Heartbreaking #plumreview This book left me in tears, so good, and beautifully written!
Date published: 2016-11-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great read this book helps you understand the meaning of life
Date published: 2016-11-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Simply amazing story.
Date published: 2016-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing!! I loved this book!! Once I opened the book I couldn't stop reading it. From a doctor to a patient from enjoying life to preparing for death.
Date published: 2016-08-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Don't let the slow start fool you! I bought this book months ago and I had it sitting on my nightstand staring at me. I read the prologue and a bit of the beginning and I set it down for a couple of weeks because I was bored. I decided to pick it back up and wow! The beginning is slow but it gets really good really fast! I couldn't put it down. The book is so wonderfully written I could imagine it all in my head as I was reading. I think this is a must read for everyone and especially anyone that wants to have a career in the medical field. It reminded me why I want to go in the field. :)
Date published: 2016-08-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really good Insightful and well written.
Date published: 2016-08-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A story that will bring you to tears I thought the story was about to be very depressing, with the author complaining on and on about his illness, but, on the contrary; he just go with the flow. He learns about it, self-analyzing it because of his medical profession and just lives with this day-to-day, trying to make the best of it. Hard-working professional, his life was not in vain, he tried to help people until the end.
Date published: 2016-07-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This book is amazing! Very well written! I couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2016-07-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful The words are powerful and elegant. A truly great writer, doctor, and mostly, a loving father.
Date published: 2016-06-09

Read from the Book

Part IIn Perfect Health I BeginThe hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones,And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live?—­Ezekiel 37:1–­3, King James translationI knew with certainty that I would never be a doctor. I stretched out in the sun, relaxing on a desert plateau just above our house. My uncle, a doctor, like so many of my relatives, had asked me earlier that day what I planned on doing for a career, now that I was heading off to college, and the question barely registered. If you had forced me to answer, I suppose I would have said a writer, but frankly, thoughts of any career at this point seemed absurd. I was leaving this small Arizona town in a few weeks, and I felt less like someone preparing to climb a career ladder than a buzzing electron about to achieve escape velocity, flinging out into a strange and sparkling universe.I lay there in the dirt, awash in sunlight and memory, feeling the shrinking size of this town of fifteen thousand, six hundred miles from my new college dormitory at Stanford and all its promise.I knew medicine only by its absence—­specifically, the absence of a father growing up, one who went to work before dawn and returned in the dark to a plate of reheated dinner. When I was ten, my father had moved us—­three boys, ages fourteen, ten, and eight—­from Bronxville, New York, a compact, affluent suburb just north of Manhattan, to Kingman, Arizona, in a desert valley ringed by two mountain ranges, known primarily to the outside world as a place to get gas en route to somewhere else. He was drawn by the sun, by the cost of living—­how else would he pay for his sons to attend the colleges he aspired to?—­and by the opportunity to establish a regional cardiology practice of his own. His unyielding dedication to his patients soon made him a respected member of the community. When we did see him, late at night or on weekends, he was an amalgam of sweet affections and austere diktats, hugs and kisses mixed with stony pronouncements: “It’s very easy to be number one: find the guy who is number one, and score one point higher than he does.” He had reached some compromise in his mind that fatherhood could be distilled; short, concentrated (but sincere) bursts of high intensity could equal . . . whatever it was that other fathers did. All I knew was, if that was the price of medicine, it was simply too high.From my desert plateau, I could see our house, just beyond the city limits, at the base of the Cerbat Mountains, amid red-­rock desert speckled with mesquite, tumbleweeds, and paddle-­shaped cacti. Out here, dust devils swirled up from nothing, blurring your vision, then disappeared. Spaces stretched on, then fell away into the distance. Our two dogs, Max and Nip, never grew tired of the freedom. Every day, they’d venture forth and bring home some new desert treasure: the leg of a deer, unfinished bits of jackrabbit to eat later, the sun-­bleached skull of a horse, the jawbone of a coyote.My friends and I loved the freedom, too, and we spent our afternoons exploring, walking, scavenging for bones and rare desert creeks. Having spent my previous years in a lightly forested suburb in the Northeast, with a tree-­lined main street and a candy store, I found the wild, windy desert alien and alluring. On my first trek alone, as a ten-­year-­old, I discovered an old irrigation grate. I pried it open with my fingers, lifted it up, and there, a few inches from my face, were three white silken webs, and in each, marching along on spindled legs, was a glistening black bulbous body, bearing in its shine the dreaded blood-­red hourglass. Near to each spider a pale, pulsating sac breathed with the imminent birth of countless more black widows. Horror let the grate crash shut. I stumbled back. The horror came in a mix of “country facts” (Nothing is more deadly than the bite of the black widow spider) and the inhuman posture and the black shine and the red hourglass. I had nightmares for years.The desert offered a pantheon of terrors: tarantulas, wolf spiders, fiddlebacks, bark scorpions, whip scorpions, centipedes, diamondbacks, sidewinders, Mojave greens. Eventually we grew familiar, even comfortable, with these creatures. For fun, when my friends and I discovered a wolf spider’s nest, we’d drop an ant onto its outer limits and watch as its entangled escape attempts sent quivers down the silk strands, into the spider’s dark central hole, anticipating that fatal moment when the spider would burst from its hollows and seize the doomed ant in its mandibles. “Country facts” became my term for the rural cousin of the urban legend. As I first learned them, country facts granted fairy powers to desert creatures, making, say, the Gila monster no less an actual monster than the Gorgon. Only after living out in the desert for a while did we realize that some country facts, like the existence of the jackalope, had been deliberately created to confuse city folk and amuse the locals. I once spent an hour convincing a group of exchange students from Berlin that, yes, there was a particular species of coyote that lived inside cacti and could leap ten yards to attack its prey (like, well, unsuspecting Germans). Yet no one precisely knew where the truth lay amid the whirling sand; for every country fact that seemed preposterous, there was one that felt solid and true. Always check your shoes for scorpions, for example, seemed plain good sense.When I was sixteen, I was supposed to drive my younger brother, Jeevan, to school. One morning, as usual, I was running late, and as Jeevan was standing impatiently in the foyer, yelling that he didn’t want to get detention again because of my tardiness, so could I please hurry the hell up, I raced down the stairs, threw open the front door . . . and nearly stepped on a snoozing six-­foot rattlesnake. It was another country fact that if you killed a rattlesnake on your doorstep, its mate and offspring would come and make a permanent nest there, like Grendel’s mother seeking her revenge. So Jeevan and I drew straws: the lucky one grabbed a shovel, the unlucky one a pair of thick gardening gloves and a pillowcase, and through a seriocomic dance, we managed to get the snake into the pillowcase. Then, like an Olympic hammer thrower, I hurled the whole out into the desert, with plans to retrieve the pillowcase later that afternoon, so as not to get in trouble with our mother.Of our many childhood mysteries, chief among them was not why our father decided to bring his family to the desert town of Kingman, Arizona, which we grew to cherish, but how he ever convinced my mother to join him there. They had eloped, in love, across the world, from southern India to New York City (he a Christian, she a Hindu, their marriage was condemned on both sides, and led to years of familial rifts—­my mother’s mother never acknowledged my name, Paul, instead insisting I be called by my middle name, Sudhir) to Arizona, where my mother was forced to confront an intractable mortal fear of snakes. Even the smallest, cutest, most harmless red racer would send her screaming into the house, where she’d lock the doors and arm herself with the nearest large, sharp implement—­rake, cleaver, ax.

Bookclub Guide

1. How did you come away feeling, after reading this book? Upset? Inspired? Anxious? Less afraid?2. What did you think of Paul’s exploration of the relationship between science and faith? As Paul wrote, “Science may provide the most useful way to organize empirical, reproducible data, but its power to do so is predicated on its inability to grasp the most central aspects of human life: hope, fear, love, hate, beauty, envy, honor, weakness, striving, suffering, virtue. Between these core passions and scientific theory, there will always be a gap. No system of thought can contain the fullness of human experience.” Do you agree? 3. How do you think the years Paul spent, tending to patients and training to be a neurosurgeon, affected the outlook he had on his own illness? When Paul wrote that the question he asked himself was not “why me,” but “why not me,” how did that strike you? Could you relate to it?4. Paul had a strong background in the humanities, and read widely throughout his life. Only after getting a Master’s in English Literature did he decide that medicine was the right path for him. Do you think this made him a better doctor? A different kind of doctor? If so, how? How has reading influenced your life? 5. What did you think of Paul and Lucy’s decision to have a child, in the face of his illness? When Lucy asked him if he worried that having a child would make his death more painful, and Paul responded, “Wouldn’t it be great if it did,” how did that strike you? Do you agree that life should not be about avoiding suffering, but about creating meaning?6. Were there passages or sentences that struck you as particularly profound or moving?7. Given that Paul died before the book was finished, what are some of the questions you would have wanted to ask him if he were still here today? 8. Paul was determined to face death with integrity, and through his book, demystify it for people. Do you think he succeeded? 9. In Lucy’s epilogue, she writes that “what happened to Paul was tragic, but he was not a tragedy.” Did you come away feeling the same way?10.   How did this book impact your thoughts about medical care? The patient-physician relationship? End of life care?  11. Is this a book you will continue thinking about, now that you are done? Do you find it having an impact on the way you go about your days?12. Lucy also writes that, in some ways, Paul’s illness brought them closer – that she FELL feel even more deeply in love with the “beautiful , focused man” he became in the last year of his life. Did you find yourself seeing how that could happen? 

Editorial Reviews

“I guarantee that finishing this book and then forgetting about it is simply not an option. . . . Part of this book’s 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 him—passionately working and striving, deferring gratification, waiting to live, learning to die—so well. None of it is maudlin. Nothing is exaggerated. As he wrote to a friend: ‘It’s just tragic enough and just imaginable enough.’ And just important enough to be unmissable.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times   “Paul Kalanithi’s memoir, When Breath Becomes Air, written as he faced a terminal cancer diagnosis, is inherently sad. But it’s an emotional investment well worth making: a moving and thoughtful memoir of family, medicine and literature. It is, despite its grim undertone, accidentally inspiring.”—The Washington Post   “Paul Kalanithi’s posthumous memoir, When Breath Becomes Air, possesses 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. . . . The narrative voice is so assured and powerful that you almost expect him to survive his own death and carry on describing what happened to his friends and family after he is gone.”—The Boston Globe   “Devastating and spectacular . . . [Kalanithi] is so likeable, so relatable, and so humble, that you become immersed in his world and forget where it’s all heading.”—USA Today   “It’s [Kalanithi’s] unsentimental approach that makes When Breath Becomes Air so original—and so devastating. . . . Its only fault is that the book, like his life, ends much too early.”—Entertainment Weekly“[When Breath Becomes Air] split my head open with its beauty.”—Cheryl Strayed“Rattling, heartbreaking, and ultimately beautiful, the too-young Dr. Kalanithi’s memoir is proof that the dying are the ones who have the most to teach us about life.”—Atul Gawande“Thanks to When Breath Becomes Air, those of us who never met Paul Kalanithi will both mourn his death and benefit from his life. This is one of a handful of books I consider to be a universal donor—I would recommend it to anyone, everyone.”—Ann Patchett“Inspiring . . . Kalanithi strives to define his dual role as physician and patient, and he weighs in on such topics as what makes life meaningful and how one determines what is most important when little time is left. . . . This deeply moving memoir reveals how much can be achieved through service and gratitude when a life is courageously and resiliently lived.”—Publishers Weekly   “A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity . . . Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)   “[A] moving and penetrating memoir . . . This eloquent, heartfelt meditation on the choices that make life worth living, even as death looms, will prompt readers to contemplate their own values and mortality.”—Booklist   “Dr. Kalanithi describes, clearly and simply, and entirely without self-pity, his journey from innocent medical student to professionally detached and all-powerful neurosurgeon to helpless patient, dying from cancer. Every doctor should read this book—written by a member of our own tribe, it helps us understand and overcome the barriers we all erect between ourselves and our patients as soon as we are out of medical school.”—Henry Marsh, author of Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery“A tremendous book, crackling with life, animated by wonder and by the question of how we should live. Paul Kalanithi lived and died in the pursuit of excellence, and by this testimonial, he achieved it.”—Gavin Francis, author of Adventures in Human Being