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When breath becomes air
2016
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Genre
NonFiction
Medical
Topics
Cancer patients
Neurosurgeons
Mortality
Doctors as patients
Fatherhood
Death and dying
Terminal illness
Setting
California - West (U.S.)
Time Period
2000s -- 21st century
1977-2015 -- 20th-21st century
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Trade Reviews

  Library Journal Review

In his sublime "foreword [that] might be better thought of as an afterword," Abraham Verghese reveals that he came to know -Kalanithi "most intimately when he'd ceased to be." That, too, is true of every listener here. Neurosurgeon -Kalanithi died in March 2015 from lung cancer at the age of 37 and was, by all accounts, an exceptional human being. This posthumous release is an exquisite treatise on how to live. And his final words? A simple evocation of joy intended for his baby daughter. This just might be veteran narrator Cassandra Campbell's most affecting narration ever: possibly never again will her voice cause such an instantaneous reaction. The transition from Sunil Malhotra, who reads the main work, to Campbell reading Kalanithi's widow Lucy's lengthy epilog signals that Kalanithi is truly gone. The book's first paragraph warned you, and yet the actual voice change will break listeners' hearts. VERDICT In words and narration, in death and in hope, Kalanithi deserves the same reverent admiration as Oliver Sacks, Joan Didion, and Randy Pausch. ["A wise, fulfilling, and at times difficult read": LJ Xpress Reviews 11/19/15 review of the Random hc.]-Terry Hong, Smithsonian -BookDragon, Washington, DC © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

Malhotra is a youthful actor who embodies the thoughtful, genial yet inquisitive and energetic mien that Kalanithi exhibits in his life and in his book. Malhotra seems to mature, like Kalanithi, from an exuberant college student seeking the meaning of life and death in literature, philosophy and science to a studious and ambitious medical student to a devoted and exhausted intern and resident. At the age of 36, already recognized as an eminent brain surgeon, Kalanithi suddenly finds himself on the other side of the bed-as a stage-four lung cancer patient. The shock and confusion-the struggle first to conquer the disease, then simply to survive, then to accept his imminent death-is the day-to-day reality Kalanithi and his wife face with the wise medical and personal counsel of his oncologist. In his last year he condenses all his experience as student, doctor, patient, husband, and father into this contemplative, profoundly moving and beautifully written memoir. After his death, Kalanithi's wife, Lucy, completes the book with her own words of anguish and love. Audiobook veteran Campbell reads her section in a soft, sure voice that may bring the listener to tears. A Random hardcover. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Summary
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * For readers of Atul Gawande, Andrew Solomon, and Anne Lamott, a profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis who attempts to answer the question What makes a life worth living? <br> <br> At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade's worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi's transformation from a naïve medical student "possessed," as he wrote, "by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life" into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.<br> <br> What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.<br> <br> Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. "I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything," he wrote. "Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: 'I can't go on. I'll go on.'" When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both.<br> <br> Praise for When Breath Becomes Air <br> <br> "I guarantee that finishing this book and then forgetting about it is simply not an option. . . . Part of this book's tremendous impact comes from the obvious fact that its author was such a brilliant polymath. And part comes from the way he conveys what happened to him--passionately working and striving, deferring gratification, waiting to live, learning to die--so well. None of it is maudlin. Nothing is exaggerated. As he wrote to a friend: 'It's just tragic enough and just imaginable enough.' And just important enough to be unmissable." --Janet Maslin, The New York Times <br> <br> "An emotional investment well worth making: a moving and thoughtful memoir of family, medicine and literature. It is, despite its grim undertone, accidentally inspiring." -- The Washington Post <br> <br> "Possesses the gravity and wisdom of an ancient Greek tragedy . . . [Kalanithi] delivers his chronicle in austere, beautiful prose. The book brims with insightful reflections on mortality that are especially poignant coming from a trained physician familiar with what lies ahead." -- The Boston Globe <br> <br> "Devastating and spectacular . . . [Kalanithi] is so likeable, so relatable, and so humble, that you become immersed in his world and forget where it's all heading." -- USA Today <br> <br> "It's [Kalanithi's] unsentimental approach that makes When Breath Becomes Air so original--and so devastating. . . . Its only fault is that the book, like his life, ends much too early." -- Entertainment Weekly <br> <br> "[ When Breath Becomes Air ] split my head open with its beauty." --Cheryl Strayed
Table of Contents
Foreword    Abraham Ferghesep. xi
Prologuep. 3
Part IIn Perfect Health I Beginp. 17
Part IICease Not till Deathp. 117
Epilogue    Lucy Kalanithip. 201
Acknowledgmentsp. 227
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