When Breath Becomes Air - Paul Kalanithi & Abraham Verghese

When Breath Becomes Air

By Paul Kalanithi & Abraham Verghese

  • Release Date: 2016-01-12
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 5
From 5,160 Ratings


#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?

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

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  • When breathe becomes air

    By Lynlouise
    Very important discussion of living and feeling and living!!
  • Touching

    By Ehsan Alipour
    Touching. A real piece of Art... nothing else to say

    By P__93
    This novel reveals so much about life in the face of death. It reveals the deep thought memories of a man going through different stages of life; choosing a profession, chasing it with zeal and purpose, pushing past the barries of death to present wisdom to all who read this book. Wisdom that came through the experience of mortality, letting us know that we don’t have to cave underneath the weight of certain death, but that we can forge a new life replete with love, meaning, and purpose. This is an amazing book. Highly recommend it for everyone, even more so to those who are in the field of medicine (don’t just choose a professional route because of your comfort, do so to make an impact on the lives of the people you serve.)
  • “What makes life meaningful enough to go on living?” -Paul Kalanithi

    By snackinjackthecat
    Life is very short - and it can all change without notice. Choose to embrace it.
  • Great read!

    By Bukky*
    This book is a must read!! So insightful, sad and comforting at the same time. May Paul's legacy live on.
  • Absolutely Amazing!

    By Jchelbi
    I like to read the first few sentences of a book before I buy it; when I came across this book in Barnes & Noble, I had read nearly 20 pages before I realized it.
  • Amazing!!

    By ❤️❤️👽👽
    This book was really awesome and very deep! I could read it a million times over. And I can relate to this book which makes it even better.
  • Life Chaging

    By Dug e dug
    This book on his dying experience will change your living experience. Already read it 3 times, and I learn something new each time. Thank you Dr. K for touching my life!!
  • Finally a book worth reading!

    By Red2184
    Excellent in all phases. It was a pleasure to reads such an intelligent and well written book about a brave man facing what we all will eventually face -our deaths. I believe I will remember this book forever. Thank you Paul and Lucy.
  • Courageous soul

    By Scott's girl
    I purchased this book on a whim. The title struck me with a desire to witness the words between its pages. I am so glad I made the purchase. This book is written beautifully. From beginning to end I was interested in what the author had to say. His love for his wife and his profession touched me, his desire to write about his fate moved me, and his courageous soul engulfed me into his book.