When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi | Review

Pages: 210

Genre: memoir



The author, Paul Kalanithi, was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer after just compling his education to become a neurosurgeon. In this memoir he talks about how difficult it was to go from the surgeon to a patient, how he needed to face his own mortality and death and not would be able to have the long career and life he planned for with his wife. He died in March 2015, while finishing this book and it’s an unforgettable story with wisdom, life perspectives, struggles, love and uncertianties.

My thoughts

Rating out of five:


While reading this book I was on the verge of crying all the time. I started reading it in an airport bus, which was not a good idea as I nearly cried there, on the plane and going into a new city. It was and awesome experience though, to take part and learn of Paul’s last time and his perspectives and reflections not only on his terminal illness, but on his education and choices until then. It was so many details and experiences from the many years he was a medicine student, one of the best to become a neurosurgeon at that.

I’ve spent some time in hospitals unfortunately, and it was very interesting to get one doctor’s viewpoint. He said himself how his thoughts changed on patient and the whole process as he became the patient himself, the uncertainties for the future and how a human often has to make the most difficult choices of their lives in those doctor offices. Paul gives his story, but he also is a people-watcher and gives detailed decriptions of how he had to be considerate of different personalities when he had to tell them of a brain-tumor or needing surgery, which I found really interesting.

Paul considered being an author as he was an avid reader and writer when he was younger, and his talent becomes obvious in this book. It’s so well-written, a thing I never expected, along with the interesting thoughts he has. Well worth the read just for the writing, when his story is the most amazing part. In many ways this book was about life choices, which all obviously become more serious when having a terminal diagnosis.

The feeling this book gave me: I was sad at how unpredictable and horrible life can be, especially as I can sympatize too much with watching your body fall apart as you become sick. But mostly I was actually just interested and curious. It’s a book about life as much as it’s about death. I’m so happy for this book’s succeess, it deserves it all and would really recommend it.


6 thoughts on “When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi | Review

  1. Siobhan @ Novelties May 9, 2018 / 2:33 pm

    Great review!!! I remember hearing about this book in one of my publishing courses. When it came out, everyone couldn’t get enough of it. Now I see why.

    Liked by 1 person

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