Book Recommendation: When Breath Becomes Air

When Breath Becomes Air is simply one of the best books I’ve ever read. {spoiler alert}

I’ve read a number of fantastic books about life, death, mortality and human’s search for meaning. Some of them make great points and offer compelling insights. However, they are all written for an audience. They are all bound by the need for logical consistency.

When Breath Becomes Air is different. It is written by someone in a mad rush as his death creeps closer. Paul acknowledges his contradictory and emotional reactions to being diagnosed with terminal cancer. He explores his own mortality while staring it in the face. His book does achieve great fame and touches many people. However, he does not know that’s how it turned out. He didn’t even know it got published. He writes for himself, his family and daughter. How often can you read a book that was so fulfilling to it’s author that they spent their dying breaths on it?

Interestingly, Paul doesn’t explicitly acknowledge he chose to write the book with his remaining days. His wife (Lucy ) explains this in the epilogue. Instead, Paul just examines life and mortality. The reader doesn’t have to bear the weight of knowing this book offered Paul meaning in life. The reader just feels like they are in his head. He reflects painfully articulately on his life, his unfulfilled dreams, his physical decline, his memories of patients deaths and his own mortality. Like most books about death, this one made me consider life.

Thank you to Brittany Gorevic for recommending When Breath Becomes Air to me.



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