Title: When Breath Becomes Air

Author: Paul Kalanithi

Foreword: Abraham Verghese

Publisher: The Bodley Head

Ratings: 4.5/5


When Breath Becomes Air epitomizes the relation between life and death and the courageous acceptance of mortality. How would you feel if after achieving everything in your life when it is time to enjoy those achievements, you come to know that you have an incurable disease? Yes! This book is about life and death.


This is a memoir of Paul Kalanithi who was a great neurosurgeon. He believed that being a doctor is not just about treating and curing your patient, making their way to life. But something above that. He was driven by the question that What makes human life meaningful? The concept of human’s relationship and moral values seemed inextricable to him.


He and his wife, Lucy were in the same college and so was the beginning of their love story. They both were busy in their life, studying and achieving the best. After graduation, Paul did Masters in English Literature from Stanford University. He had a deep chemistry with literature. He loved reading books. The English Literature students will surely understand what he meant when he talked about the concept of human relationality which he learned during his Masters.   


He was completing his residency and then one day, he got to know that he was having lung cancer. His family encouraged and supported him. Lucy, a courageous woman, never left his side. They had a daughter Cady, a small yet great source of happiness.


“I’m not sure I see a future that includes a meaningful time.” That’s what he said when it was the time to make his final decision. Removing the oxygen mask from her husband’s face was not less than the brave act of being shot at the Indian border for Lucy. Cady, lying in that same hospital room was unknown of what happened. 


Author has written his heart out, showing us the doctor’s perspective, a neurosurgeon’s perspective of looking at things. This book also portrays the significance of time. The time for which we wait. We plan our future, knowing that we will die one day. But what if that day is not so far?


This book is an artistic blend of life, mortality, time and human relations. You should read this book. 

About The Author


Paul Sudhir Arul Kalanithi (April 1, 1977 – March 9, 2015) was an Indian-American neurosurgeon and writer. His book When Breath Becomes Air is a memoir about his life and illness battling stage IV metastatic lung cancer. It was posthumously published by Random House in January 2016.[1] It was on The New York Times Non-Fiction Best Seller list for multiple weeks.

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