When Breath Becomes Air
By Paul Kalanithi
Paul Kalanithi was 36 and working as a neurosurgical resident when he was diagnosed with an inoperable lung cancer. This book outlines how his awareness as a doctor altered his experiences as a patient.
When Breath Becomes Air is one of those books that will stay with me long after I have finished reading it.
Paul Kalanithi was 36 when he was diagnosed with an inoperable lung cancer. In When Breath Becomes Air he explains in detail his experience of this as someone who was fully aware of the symptoms and psychological things that he was likely to face.
Paul Kalanithi was working as a neurosurgical resident when he discovered that he had cancer. He was unable to switch off from his position as a doctor and merely be a patient. At times this was a blessing and enabled him to make informed decisions but at other times this was more of a curse than a blessing.
His interest in literature is reflected in the beautiful and eloquent way the book is written. Whilst at college he chose attend classes in both neuroscience and English literature. He felt certain books spoke to him and his views on life. He was primarily concerned with questions on where biology, morality, literature, and philosophy interact. He found these answers working with patients, answers which aided him once he got his diagnosis.
One of the most touching moments in the book for me was when he held his daughter for the first time.
This was book was incredibly moving. At some points it just made me well up, at others I had tears streaming down my cheeks. However, I wouldn’t saw that this is a sad book as such. There is something in the way he wrote that makes it uplifting as well.
If you only read one book this month make it this one.
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