When Breath Becomes Air
PreviewKalanithi’s book explores the dramatic ups-and-downs of individual life and the contradictions within. Doctors eventually become patients and everybody deals with death. Kalanithi explains that this struggle does not have to be without meaning, and that meaning can be found in our work, our passions, and time spent with loved ones. Meaning can also be found in the pursuit of science, medicine, philosophy, literature, and in the midst of terrible experiences. Kalanithi’s story explores the sudden cruelty of some lives and the importance of acceptance and preparation for our deaths. He advocates for increased awareness around end-of-life planning and care, for doctors and patients alike, and a reevaluation of our priorities after understanding the inevitability of death. To doctors, Kalanithi expresses the importance of holistic care, considering the various human aspects of a person’s life. Work and lifestyle should be considered and preserved when deciding on treatment. Kalani’s story also reveals that as life shortens, time becomes treasured— life is short, fleeting, and therefore precious.
About the AuthorPaul Kalanithi was an Indian-American neurosurgeon, neuroscientist, and writer. He grew up in Westchester, New York to a Christian family and attended Stanford University. After Stanford, he graduated from the University of Cambridge with a degree in the History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine. He then attended medical school at Yale School of Medicine before continuing to a residency at Stanford School of Medicine. There, he met his wife Lucy Goddard. He had a child, Elizabeth Acadia before his death. Before his death, he wrote various essays for The New York Times, Stanford Medicine Magazine, The New Yorker, and The Paris Review.