When Breath Becomes Air

By Paul Kalanithi

Brett Dwyer writes:

An incredible reminder of the gift that we all have to simply be alive.

Kalanithi had been working and studying unbelievably hard for over a decade to become a neurosurgeon. It was years and years of enormous sacrifices. And just as the hard work was about to start paying off he was diagnosed with cancer.

There is not enough praise that I can heap on this book. It’s full of brutal honesty, beautifully skilled writing and the depths that we can experience as humans.

Don’t let this prompt you to skip ahead, but the last paragraph of the book will stop you in your tracks, especially if you are a parent.


What makes life worth living in the face of death?

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.

Paul Kalanithi died while working on this profoundly moving book, yet his words live on as a guide to us all. When Breath Becomes Air is a life-affirming reflection on facing our mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.

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