October 2019: When Breath Becomes Air

Title: When Breath Becomes Air
Author: Paul Kalanithi
Genre: Epidemiology / Consciousness & Thought Philosophy

Book Jacket Summary:
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.

Why I Chose This Book:
I found this book to help me with my current perspective & compassion towards myself and others. A significant amount of my patient population is those with or recovering from a lung cancer diagnosis, the same diagnosis as the author. I could relate to the author even without the diagnosis as he touched on many topics in the book- relationships and life in general.

My Review:
I love life & the medical field. I love how complicated people are and how intense even the most “simplest” days can be… it’s so interesting + informative. I really enjoyed this book & how it combined two of my interests while providing such great insight/perspective into how to live your life to the fullest. This book was a tear jerker & a page turner!

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