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When Breath Becomes Air Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Jan 12 2016
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“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. None of it is maudlin. Nothing is exaggerated. As he wrote to a friend: ‘It’s just tragic enough and just imaginable enough.’ And just important enough to be unmissable.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“Paul Kalanithi’s memoir, When Breath Becomes Air, written as he faced a terminal cancer diagnosis, is inherently sad. But it’s 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
“Paul Kalanithi’s posthumous memoir, When Breath Becomes Air, 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 narrative voice is so assured and powerful that you almost expect him to survive his own death and carry on describing what happened to his friends and family after he is gone.”—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
“It’s [Kalanithi’s] unsentimental approach that makes When Breath Becomes Air so original—and so devastating. . . . Its only fault is that the book, like his life, ends much too early.”—Entertainment Weekly
“[When Breath Becomes Air] split my head open with its beauty.”—Cheryl Strayed
“Rattling, heartbreaking, and ultimately beautiful, the too-young Dr. Kalanithi’s memoir is proof that the dying are the ones who have the most to teach us about life.”—Atul Gawande
“Thanks to When Breath Becomes Air, those of us who never met Paul Kalanithi will both mourn his death and benefit from his life. This is one of a handful of books I consider to be a universal donor—I would recommend it to anyone, everyone.”—Ann Patchett
“Inspiring . . . Kalanithi strives to define his dual role as physician and patient, and he weighs in on such topics as what makes life meaningful and how one determines what is most important when little time is left. . . . This deeply moving memoir reveals how much can be achieved through service and gratitude when a life is courageously and resiliently lived.”—Publishers Weekly
“A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity . . . Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“[A] moving and penetrating memoir . . . This eloquent, heartfelt meditation on the choices that make life worth living, even as death looms, will prompt readers to contemplate their own values and mortality.”—Booklist
“Dr. Kalanithi describes, clearly and simply, and entirely without self-pity, his journey from innocent medical student to professionally detached and all-powerful neurosurgeon to helpless patient, dying from cancer. Every doctor should read this book—written by a member of our own tribe, it helps us understand and overcome the barriers we all erect between ourselves and our patients as soon as we are out of medical school.”—Henry Marsh, author of Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery
“A tremendous book, crackling with life, animated by wonder and by the question of how we should live. Paul Kalanithi lived and died in the pursuit of excellence, and by this testimonial, he achieved it.”—Gavin Francis, author of Adventures in Human Being
About the Author
Paul Kalanithi was a neurosurgeon and writer. He grew up in Kingman, Arizona, and graduated from Stanford University with a BA and MA in English literature and a BA in human biology. He earned an MPhil in history and philosophy of science and medicine from the University of Cambridge and graduated cum laude from the Yale School of Medicine, where he was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha national medical honor society. He returned to Stanford to complete his residency training in neurological surgery and a postdoctoral fellowship in neuroscience, during which he received the American Academy of Neurological Surgery’s highest award for research. He died in March 2015. He is survived by his large, loving family, including his wife, Lucy, and their daughter, Elizabeth Acadia.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
As an aspiring doctor and having been impacted by terminal illness in my family, there are many passages in the story that resonated with me. At times it required me to put the book down to really process the feelings that I had, and to understand on a deep level the vulnerabilities we all experience as human beings, regardless of our position in life. I will always appreciate the impact of Paul's story on my own maturing perspective.
In the first part, Paul Kalanithi provides a glimpse into the life and struggles of a neurosurgeon. He states that he choose the career “to pursue death: to grasp it, uncloak it, and see it eye to eye, unblinking”. He hoped it would elevate his own being - from petty materialism, self important trivia, to the heart of the matter….."surely a kind of transcendence would be found there?" He opens himself to looking for the same thing as he faces his own death.
Those of us that are attracted to reading about death will appreciate that this is where he turns. “Lost in a featureless wasteland of my own mortality, and finding no traction in the realms of scientific studies, intracellular molecular pathways, and endless curves of survival statistics, I began reading literature again.....searching for a vocabulary with which to make sense of death, to find a way to begin defining myself and inching forward again…..The privilege of direct experience had led me away from literary and academic work, yet now I felt that to understand my own direct experiences, I would have to translate them back into language. "
Abraham Verghese describes Kalanithi’s writing as stunning, unforgettable, spinning gold. I found it satisfying and thought provoking, which was enough for me.
Most recent customer reviews
Amazing and moving book. Paul's story will change your view of life.Published 9 days ago by Amazon Customer
Fantastic read. I started to read the short version and had to go back and buy the real book. I couldn't put the book down...even though I knew the ending. Read morePublished 18 days ago by Sylvia Collins
A brave, generous, heartbreaking book, written at full throttle as the writer struggles with end-stage cancer, and the prospect of his own extinction.Published 19 days ago by Dan
This was an amazing read. I wish everyone in the world had the chance to read it.
The delivery was quick as well.
The sensitive, poignant, honest telling of what it is like to come to terms with ones own mortality hit a chord with me. Read morePublished 27 days ago by Margaret Penner
We are truly gifted by the courage and generosity of Paul Kalanthi, and his wife to share this personal journey Phenomenal book, helps provide a different perspective regarding the... Read morePublished 27 days ago by Lorraine Bird
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