When Breath Becomes Air

Kalanithi, Paul

  20 Reviews

US neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi was forced to face his mortality earlier than most when he was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer at 36. This inspiring memoir shares his life: his passion for literature and writing and his later switch to the gruelling demands of medicine, and what to do with a terminal diagnosis when there are so many things you still want to achieve.

Powerful, profoundly moving, and insightful as doctor becomes patient, this life-affirming triptych of literature, medicine and family is poignantly completed with an epilogue from his wife Lucy.



MAST 005
Although this story was a little difficult for some of our members who had experienced recent deaths in their families - those who read it found it very honest and real. A beautifully written book - profound and heartbreaking.
WELL 012
All enjoyed the book especially those who lived in Wellington during the 50s and 60s.
CHCH 194
Following someone's journey to a known future was raw. His efforts to achieve professionally were successful and he ended his days with love surrounding him. His wife's chapter was an excellent ending.
CHCH 423
A gem of a book - everyone in the group enjoyed it. Its raw honesty and integrity, his final paragraph and his wife's contribution were superb. But it was sad that most of his life he was married to his work with inhuman work hours - "it all depends on me". Thankfully he finally realised this and reevaluated what is most important in life - a real tear jerker!
CHCH 423
Tears were shed! Well, by 80% of the group. A book beautifully written and deeply affecting. The author commanded respect for his enormous abilities and wide talent.
TAUR 035
Beautifully written and very illuminating. Some in the group preferred it more than others. Most agreed that the epilogue bound the book together and also gave us a broader picture of Paul's life than his own writing did. That made it very much sadder and filled out his personality.
AUCK 339
A beautifully written book. One of our members awarded her very first '5' to the book. Sad content, but dealt with compassionately.
We all liked this book in varying degrees - it was thoughtful, intelligent, moving and well written. Some of the group found the philosophical thoughts a bit deep but we learned many new words.
Thoughtful and reflective. Divided our group as the book doesn't have a narrative arc. But it does elicit a good cry. If you are squeamish there are too many descriptions of surgery, but if you are interested in the life of a doctor in training it is enlightening.
This book divided the group with some loving and some hating it. Some enjoyed the neurological insights in the book. Sparked lots of discussion about his choices when diagnosed. The epilogue from his wife was very well received.
ROTO 010
Our group was divided about this book. Some had not read it; about half thought it was beautifully written with a very moving and real account of his experiences, others were indifferent. However, the guideline questions led to much animated discussion as we shared our thoughts, particularly around the subject of knowing one had a terminal illness.
NEWP 018
Universally enjoyed. Well-written, and thought provoking.
NELS 070
Everyone enjoyed reading this book, and the style of writing was also enjoyable. But from a human mortality perspective, we found it only grazed very lightly on the topic, and spent much more time talking about his career.
A very moving book - some of us shed a tear at the end.
A difficult theme and very emotional, but beautiful writing which encouraged us to read to the end. This book evoked personal memories and provided the most stimulating discussion so far this year.
KURO 001
Everyone read it!!
CHCH 324
A good read - thought provoking. Some would read again.
We found this book to be intelligently written and 'driven' due to Paul's life being cut short. It was a quick read but very insightful especially from the perspective of a healer now being on the patient side. However, we felt that there was a lack of 'rawness' around his illness and looming death as well as the effect this all had on his loved ones.
We found this a challenging read but beautifully written.
AUCK 058
All readers enjoyed this beautifully written, thoughtful contemplation of the meaning of a life cut short. The literary references throughout the book were a treasure.