When Breath Becomes Air

When Breath Becomes Air Review

When Breath Becomes Air summary

When Breath Becomes Air is a non-fiction autobiographical book which is written by Paul Kalanithi. He was a brilliant medical student, who had a bright future in neurosurgery ahead of him.

But after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in his mid-thirties. Kalanithi uses this book to not only tell his life story or disease but also to share his ideas on how to welcome death with grace and how to be alive truly.

Paul kalanithi, in his first and last book seeking meaning; the meaning of life. A man who has spent the last months of his nervous surgeon surgery looking at good future days and great career opportunities in the best universities and the most equipped labs.

He suddenly finds that he has lung cancer but he thinks this is worth the time to spend on this remaining opportunity.

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My Thoughts – Why It Should Be Read?

“What happened to Paul was tragic, but he was not a tragedy.”

Very few books can absorb yourself into it and “When breath becomes air” is that kind of book. We heard to turn our pain into strength but it is really a difficult thing to do. But the author, Paul Kalanithi showed through his own life how it is done. It is an autobiography about living his life at the battling stage of metastatic lung cancer.

The features that amazed me is the medical details described in the book. Although it’s a small book and emotionally written but he was aware of being a doctor and made clear enough that knowing all about the details of symptoms and the diseases and going through the disease is a totally different thing.

As a doctor when he became a patient, unfortunately, he felt what actually feels like to be a patient. It is a patient’s perspective which can perfect the perspective of a doctor. The “pain” he often described to patients became real, if he had only known them before as an adjective.

He mentioned at the beginning of the book that his marriage is saved by his cancer which may seem little weird but he explained how it helped to focus on his family when he got the inevitable fact that when you have little time left you should pass the remaining time of your life with who is worth it.

The only thing in this world that is certain is that ‘nothing is certain’. But even the uncertain life can be a meaningful one quoted by him “what makes life meaningful, even in the face of death’.

A grave illness like cancer comprehended his thinking about life. You can not measure your life in a timeframe, it is your thinking pattern which gives a path to your life journey. It may be short but so worth it that is the book taught me.

I can not describe it with appropriate adjectives. but one thing is sure that along with a newfound respect for doctors it fascinated me by how a telling of death can be so full of life. How a book about dying can make you realize how it feels to be alive!

  • Storyline
  • Characters
  • Writing Style


When Breath Becomes Air is a beautifully written story which will break your heart, and give you hope at the same time.

Beautiful Quotes from When Breath Becomes Air

  • Even if I’m dying until I actually die, I’m still living.
  • Life isn’t about avoiding suffering. The defining characteristic of an organism is striving.
  • How do you decide what to do with your life when you’re not sure how much life you have left? Maybe in the absence of certainty, we should just assume we’re going to live a long time. Maybe that’s the only way forward.

This review is written by one of our Vowelor Facebook Community member – Tanjina Tamanna. She is fond of reading books and also a proud book lover.

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