One of my stretch goals this year is to read more non-fiction, particularly memoirs. I kept hearing this book mentioned on podcasts and saw it on several “must-read” lists, so I chose “When Breath Becomes Air” for my first foray into the memoir realm. I am so glad I did!
Paul Kalanithi was a 36 year old neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer right as he was completing his residency. The journey he goes through, from acceptance to denial (yes – he goes through the grief process backwards) is tragic, yet somehow inspiring. He was courageous without even meaning to be. For so many of us, a death diagnosis would be enough to knock us down and make us give in to the cancer. This guy was different. He kept living.
This book will make you see life in a different way. Kalanithi always wondered what makes a meaningful life and made it part of his life’s mission. He searched for meaning in literature, in science, and in the brain, and then by being a patient facing his own mortality. What he found the most challenging was trying to figure out what makes life worth living in the face of death. His writing is beautiful. I will be thinking about this man’s life story for a long time to come. I urge you to read this. You won’t be sorry.
I will be recommending this to everyone. Heck, I may just buy a copy for them.
Goodreads rating: 5 stars