Admittedly, I have had a reading dry spell. I have gone to bed earlier and napped when I would typically be reading. But I have recently managed to work When Breath Becomes Air into my rigorous sleeping schedule and am so glad I did. I finished it about a week ago and still find myself thinking about it.
First, I don’t read much non-fiction. I prefer to escape in stories that are not real. So a non-fiction book has to be highly praised and really grab my attention before I consider it. This one came onto my radar through the Cup of Jo Blog. Joanna Goddard, who writes Cup of Jo, is the sister of Lucy Kalanithi, who is the wife of Paul Kalanithi, the author of When Breath Becomes Air. Once Joanna started talking about the book, it seemed like I saw it everywhere. And now it is a New York Times best seller.
The book tells the story of Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon diagnosed with late stage cancer in his last year of medical training. Dr. Kalanithi writes about his life, his training, and the transition from doctor to patient. He dies in the end; you should know that from the beginning. But the beauty of the book is in his approach to death and his insights along the way. Most of the book is not about death. It is not depressing to read. It is beautiful, smart, fulfilling and very enjoyable. Read it and give it to all your friends.