When I told people I was considering this book as our Editor’s Choice I had two reactions. The first was ‘is that a business book?’, and the second was ‘Don’t you think that’s too depressing?’. Let me address both. In our world, a business book is any book that challenges your perspective and can help lead to greater awareness and personal development of some description. When Breath Becomes Air does this in spades.
At one point, Kalanithi recognises that his humanity and maturity as a doctor happened when he started treating the dreaded administrative paperwork with the same care he treated his patients. This struck a chord. How many of us rush through the seemingly mundane without realising the importance these tasks have in the long run?
On the ‘depressing’ question, there can be no doubt that this book is not for everyone. It deals with a very difficult subject and chronicles one man’s battle with cancer. Only you will know if this is a subject that will simply hit too close to home.
When Breath Becomes Air is the story of neurosurgeon and communications scholar Dr Paul Kalanithi who is diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of 36. It chronicles his unique experience in the transition from doctor to patient, in a touching, poignant and sometimes heartbreaking way. It is punctuated throughout with lessons that won’t soon be forgotten, and will be applicable to all who read this book.
When Breath Becomes Air is one of the most deeply touching books I’ve read in a very long time. It is life-affirming and beautifully written. There can be no greater challenge in life than facing one’s own mortality. And it is in the face of this that writer Paul Kalanithi shares his wisdom. This book is Paul’s gift to the world.