Title: When Breath Becomes Air
Author: Paul Kalanithi
Synopsis: “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. The book covers his 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?”
Why I can’t live without this book: This was the first audio book I ever cried while listening – it’s that good. A mix of brilliance (because he was a brain surgeon, man!) and questions about the meaning of life and death, faith and family, I could not get enough of this book. Not only is it gorgeous prose, but it helps give dignity to dying and permission to lament. And this fact alone, in American culture in particular, is desperately needed.
(One of my) favorite quotes: “There is a moment, a cusp, when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of living. We are never so wise as when we live in this moment.” YES.
So, When Breath Becomes Air: have you read it? Did it change you? I mean, was it not the most beautiful thing you’ve ever read?!
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