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When Breath Becomes Air - Paul Kalanithi & Abraham Verghese

When Breath Becomes Air

Author Paul Kalanithi & Abraham Verghese

  • Published: 2016-01-12
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
5 Stars
From 326 Customers Review
Price: $14.99


#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST • This exquisite memoir by an idealistic young neurosurgeon asks What makes a life worth living? and makes a profound graduation gift—especially for aspiring doctors and nurses.

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

Top Customer Reviews

  • Incredible

    From Fuciutdg
    I will not be attempting to write a review for this book that gives it justice. Proper words don’t exist to explain the profound thoughts this book provoked and the impact it’s had on my life.
  • Beyond excellent

    From Jjhj08
    Raw, real, captivating, encouraging - are just some of the descriptors that come to mind. It is a highly recommended for various groups and for different reasons. Everyone will be able to take something meaningful away, but the group who should really encouraged to read and discuss its content are physicians, established and inspiring ones. Remember YOU are interacting and treating a person. Empathy is a must, not an afterthought.
  • Unbelievable.

    From TravyBoy12
    This book is a rollercoaster of feelings and emotions. Happiness, sadness, anger, hope, joy, defeat, etc. Very inspirational and gives the reader an interesting point of view from both sides (patient and doctor)
  • "Breath becomes air"

    From Deb Jena
    One of the seminal works of literature that in my opinion merits the Nobel prize. The biography of a part of the Author's life where a neurosurgeon learns to grapple with life and death in a very personal way and from both ends of the table is simply put "beyond this world". As a surgeon myself, I have been deeply influenced by the thoughts and words reflected in this masterpiece. RIP Paul...