When Breath Becomes Air
by Paul Kalanithi
I admit to being conflicted about this book. I really wanted to love this book, after all, it had gotten stellar media reviews, yet, when I started reading the book, my feelings bubbled to the surface.
I mean, what’s not to “love” a book about a dying neurosurgeon who took the time to chronicle is journey from being doctor to patient.
Yet, as I trudged towards the end of the book, I found myself not enjoying the book and wondered why.
After careful consideration, I realized it was because this wasn’t the kind of book I’d read previously where a doctor (or patient) chronicles their journeys and reader me was taken along for the ride. Instead, When Breath Becomes Air was more of a metaphysical, philosophical journey and one I really wasn’t interested in taking.
Paul Kalanithi’s background as a writer and philosopher permeated the prose as he wrote about his journey with cancer. Having really not enjoyed philosophy and literature courses in college, I really couldn’t relate. In fact, I thought the best part of the book was his wife Lucy’s continuation of the narrative after Paul died.
Having said all this, I am glad to have read this book, but it’s not a book I’m likely to read again.
I recommend this book for those who are interested in the journey of a doctor who becomes patient interlaced with the philosophy of life and death.
Rating: 4.0 stars.
[posted 15 December 2019]