When Breath Becomes Air
Paul Kalanithi & Abraham Verghese
This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST • This inspiring, exquisitely observed memoir finds hope and beauty in the face of insurmountable odds as an idealistic young neurosurgeon attempts to answer the question What makes a life worth living?
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
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
From Publishers Weekly
© Publishers Weekly
When breath becomes air
As a surgeon with a focus on cancer in community practice for 40 years, this book moved me to tears. I will recommend it to patients struggling to make choices, plans, and meaning to life. Thank you Dr Kalanithi and your wonderful family for this outstanding contribution to sorting out life.
Dane Moseson, MD, FACS
Touching, beautiful and inspirational
I had wanted to read this book ever since I read Paul Kalinthi's Opinion piece in The New York Times. For anyone who has experienced existential anxiety - or simply a desire to lead a meaningful life - Kalinthi's insights and a glimpse into the way he led his own life will be pure gold. A source of inspiration and strength to the reader. Loved his wife Lucy's conclusion too. A perfect ending to a wonderful book about a life lived to the very brim.
When breath becomes air
As a physician I was moved by the story Paul told. Anyone who has gone through medical school, then residency and fellowship can relate to the changes that transpire. The beautiful way he took us through both sides of the patient doctor relationship was enlightening. His descriptions of the struggle of dealing with ones mortality as death nears and surrounds your world, is something every physician should experience in his first person tale. This should be mandatory reading for every resident physician, before they see their first patient to give an insight into what is happening in the hearts and minds of those we treat.
An amazing read that I could not put down. Thank You