I heard all about this book at the time it was published through the blog A Cup of Jo (which is run by Paul Kalanithi’s sister-in-law). But it sounded intense so I didn’t buy it.
Then I started reading a few pages at a bookstore in San Fran’s Ferry Building on holidays in 2016. I was instantly hooked. It was beautifully written. Reflective. Evocative. And that was the first 10 pages. I bought the book.
‘When Breath Becomes Air’ is a memoir of a brilliant man who loved literature but became a neurosurgeon because he wanted to find the meaning of life and death. And sadly, he had to find that meaning too quickly. He was an accomplished surgeon by the time he passed away, but also an accomplished writer. His book is a gentle reminder about the fragility of life.
This is a beautiful book, especially for someone trying to find meaning or purpose in their lives. For anyone mindlessly climbing a corporate ladder or chasing after money or status. It’s a book that will bring you sharply back to Earth and remind you about what is important in life. Love. Family. Friendships. The simple things. Those little moments.
‘Most ambitions are either achieved or abandoned; either way, they belong to the past. The future, instead of the ladder towards the goals of life, flattens out into a perpetual present. Money, status, all the vanities the preacher of Ecclesiastes described hold so little interest: a chasing after wind, indeed.’