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When Breath Becomes Air

When Breath Becomes Air

Book Review - When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

I spent this Saturday morning reading the last section of this book with tears streaming down my face. It is written by Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer at the age of 36. He describes his experience from the first symptoms to his death in March of 2015. He also grapples with big life questions such as what is meaningful to him in this life and how to spend his remaining time. It is a beautifully written book from cover to cover.

Paul Kalanithi is a supremely talented writer, so I want to share some of my favorite quotes here.

“Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete.” 
― Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air

When I read books (or watch movies) I often think about whose perspective I'd want. I sort of create a mini book club or discussion group in my head. For example, when I watched Jackie with Natalie Portman I wanted Michelle Obama's perspective - how did her experience as first lady compare to that portrayed in the movie? I guess this is one way in which my knowledge grows from my relationships. I think this is a big reason why I'm a member of so many book clubs (two in Bloomington, IN where I work, one student reading group at Indiana University, and one in Chicago, IL where I live.) My understanding of the book grows after I've discussed it with others. In the case of this book, I had the opportunity to discuss it with a friend of mine who is an anesthesiologist. I had so many questions for her about being a doctor after reading this book.

“I can’t go on. I’ll go on.” 
― Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air

This quote made me cry. I think we've all be there in life when you feel like you just can't go on. Everything seems insurmountable. But life goes on, and you go on. Somehow you put one foot in front of the other and you find yourself on the other side. The hardships of life seem ridiculous in the context of terminal cancer, but the beauty of this quote is that people who aren't facing death can relate to it in their own way.

When Breath Becomes Air
$15.00
By Paul Kalanithi

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