When Breath Becomes Air (Large Print / Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews


Paul Kalanithi’s brilliant book is like his life: not very long, thought-provoking and hard to forget. His journey toward becoming a doctor was circuitous and from an unusual perspective. After Bachelor’s degrees in biology and English literature, a Master’s degree in literature and one in the History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine, he considered a Ph. D. in English literature but decided on Yale medical school. The first part of the book is about his search for the intersection of human connection with science through literature and philosophy.
The second part is about his transition from physician to patient and disease from the other side after he is diagnosed with lung cancer when he is a neurosurgical resident. We don’t know when we will die but we can all decide how we will live. Paul’s wife Lucy said that this memoir, which she had to complete posthumously, “teach(es) us to face death with integrity.” I believe Paul faced life the same way.

— Sydne, Atlanta

January 2016 Indie Next List


“With a message both mournful and life-affirming, When Breath Becomes Air chronicles a young doctor's journey from literature student to promising neurosurgeon and finally to a patient in his own hospital after being diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. Always profound, never sentimental, this important book refuses to take refuge in platitudes, instead facing mortality with honesty and humility. Written in engaging prose and filled with penetrating insights, this story is relevant to everyone and will captivate fans of memoir, literature, philosophy, and popular science alike. Lyrical passages of great beauty and vulnerability are deftly balanced by bright, candid moments of joy and even humor. Come prepared with plenty of tissues; over and over again this exquisite book will break your heart.”
— Carmen Tracey, Loganberry Books, Shaker Hts, OH



Product Details
ISBN: 9781410487858
ISBN-10: 1410487857
Large Print: Yes
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Publication Date: February 17th, 2016
Pages: 209
Language: English