books · Thoughts

Review: When breath becomes air

This is a memoir by Paul Kalanithi who was a Neurosurgeon and passed away at the age of 37 from metastatic lung cancer.

He chose Neurosurgery for “its unforgiving call to perfection… it seemed to present the most challenging and direct confrontation with meaning, identity and death”

What compelled me to pick this book was his bio. Kalanithi did his undergrads in English Literature and Human Biology, then Philosophy and then finally settled with being a Neurosurgeon. And he accomplished all this by the age of 37. He went through different phases of education to find out detailed account of death and what is it about life, “I had spent so much time studying literature at Stanford and the history of medicine at Cambridge in an attempt to better understand the particularities of death, only to come away feeling like they were still unknowable to me.”

It is an autobiography, where Kalanithi knows that by the end of this book he would be dead. I picked this book yesterday from nearby Dymocks and still haven’t been able to put it done. Well, except now that I am at work. It is written so well with all the intricacies of medicine and medical terms that could be understood by a layman.



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