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review 2018-10-20 17:43
Raw, unfiltered, and achingly honest
When Breath Becomes Air - Paul Kalanithi,Abraham Verghese

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi is a posthumous memoir/biography from a man who was both in the prime of his life and the beginning of what promised to be an illustrious career as a neurosurgeon and neuroscientist. The terminal lung cancer which was already making its way through his spinal column wasn't part of the plan...and yet Paul chose to meet this challenge head-on as a way to understand and learn how the inevitability of death can be explored by those shepherding the way. How does the mind and brain (seen as two separate entities here) play a role in this? He first approached this topic through the lens of literature which he had always been interested in (hence the beginning of the book which would eventually be published after his death) but he then moved on to his direct experience as a doctor and then as a patient. Paul was interested in the bigger picture of what exactly death means and he kept trying to parse it out by asking, "Where did biology, morality, literature, and philosophy intersect?" (pg 41). He didn't shy away from the ugly underbelly of cancer treatment and how it's seen from both a medical professional's standpoint (best practices, proven remedies, etc) and the one receiving the care (uncertainty, despair, anger, and frustration to name a few). Facing mortality and asking the tough questions are the overarching themes of When Breath Becomes Air but this is also a quiet story about a man coming to terms with the fact his life was about to end. I don't want to give away all of the details because I really think you should read this one if you never read another book about death (although why stop here?). I didn't know if I'd be able to continue it at several points (there were tears) because it mirrors so much of what my dear friend, Jessica, went through during her battle with cancer. But I am happy that I persevered. 10/10


This quote blew my mind because I feel I'm constantly justifying to people why I do the work that I do even though some of it doesn't compensate me at all (the blog) and the one that does is probably never going to make me financially solvent (children's librarian). Looking at the bigger picture is hard if you are cutting out the crucial bits like death which comes for us all.

Indeed, this is how 99 percent of people select their jobs: pay, work, environment, house. But that's the point. Putting lifestyle first is how you find a job - not a calling. - pg 68-69

If I remember correctly this was a quote from Paul's wife and I think it perfectly encapsulates why this is such an important book. It's why I've read and reviewed so many books around this topic over the past year. 

Paul confronted death - examined it, wrestled with it, accepted it - as a physician and a patient. He wanted to help people understand death and face their mortality. Paul's decision not to avert his eyes from death epitomizes a fortitude we don't celebrate enough in our death-avoidant culture. - pg 215

Side note of interest (at least to me): Lucy, Paul's widow, found love again with a recently widowed father of two...who's spouse also wrote a book about her journey of dying. That book is The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs and yes it's totally going on my TRL.


What's Up Next: Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande


What I'm Currently Reading: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden


Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-07-12 19:32
Living and Dying
The Bright Hour - Nina Riggs Jones
When Breath Becomes Air - Paul Kalanithi,Abraham Verghese
The Year of Magical Thinking - Joan Didion
Blue Nights by Didion, Joan 1st (first) Edition [Hardcover(2011)] - Joan Didion
A Widow's Story - Joyce Carol Oates
Missing Mom - Joyce Carol Oates
About Alice - Calvin Trillin
How We Die: Reflections of Life's Final Chapter - Sherwin B. Nuland

So, I've been off BL for a long, long time. A lot has happened, I got pregnant and had a daughter. My mom got sick and passed away. I had to clear out and sell my childhood home and all the contents while trying to balance all of that and my full time job. It's been...something.


For a while, not long after my mom died (3 days before Christmas 2016 when my daughter was only 5 months old) I started searching out and reading books that dealt with death and grief. I read a lot of Joan Didion The Year of Magical ThinkingBlue Nights. I read When Breath Becomes Air and About Alice and A Widow's Story. I started Missing Mom and couldn't go any further because it was too hard and How We Die.


The Bright Hour is one of the most beautiful books I've read, ever. I can't possibly describe it except to use it's full title--The Bright Hour: a memoir of living and dying. It is so full of life, all the messiness and happiness and tragedy and humor and it faces death and mortality head on, unflinching. 


I recently reread it, now a year and a half since my mother passed, it still has such power and peace. I can't recommend it enough.

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review 2017-06-20 00:00
When Breath Becomes Air
When Breath Becomes Air - Paul Kalanithi,Abraham Verghese This book really touched me. The author is now dead. He was a neurosurgeon who just got to the point where he could benefit from it. He struggled through all that comes with getting such an advanced degree. He was finally thinking of the benefits. The money would start coming in, a home of his dreams and all that. But before anything can happen, in the prime of his life, he receives the news that he has terminal cancer. This is his book about it. He talks about life, work, the transition from doctor to patient and coming to grips with the fact that he's going to die a lot sooner than he ever expected. It's sad and very inspirational at the same time.
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review 2017-06-03 17:16
When Breath Becomes Air
When Breath Becomes Air - Paul Kalanithi,Abraham Verghese

He was devoting his life to save others when suddenly he found out that his future could not be thought of in decades but only in months or years and soon his role would be switched, the doctor would soon become the patient. As I read this novel, I thought over and over again about the notion of enjoying life’s journey along the way instead of working continuously to achieve the goals that you set out to accomplish. I wondered how Paul felt about his journey to get his residency, did he enjoy his journey or was it all a blur? Reading this novel, Paul talked about all the education that he had obtained before being diagnosed, the long hours that he had put in during his medical training, and how he and his wife had mapped out how their life was going to be, once they had education behind them and their careers set in place but nowhere in this plan was the subject of cancer.


Paul knew what the road ahead was going to be like as he has been talking to his patience’s about it for years but now, Paul was on the receiving end yet he was playing the role of doctor and patient. I like the comment one of his doctors told him, he remarked that it was okay if Paul just wanted to be the patient as he knew what roles Paul was playing. That remark stayed in my mind as I read the rest of this novel and as Paul fought to be who he really wanted to be in life. It’s a struggle for Paul and I understood his frustration as he battles with his illness and his identity. He is, who he is and he is doctor who is battling an illness, a person who used to work countless hours and for him to stop working and let this illness take control of his life is asking a lot but on the other hand, the disease is draining him and Paul is in so much pain, it’s hard to even do basic tasks. It’s a fight and Paul puts up a great battle.

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review 2017-01-09 17:24
Jeszcze jeden oddech - Paul Kalanithi

Książka „Jeszcze jeden oddech” ukazała się na rynku wydawniczym jesienią 2016 roku i spotkała się z ogromnym zainteresowaniem polskich czytelników, podobnie jak miało to miejsce na świecie, gdyż książka ta jak informuje tekst z okładki stała się nr 1 na liście bestsellerów New York Timesa.

Paul Kalanithi był młodym, bo zaledwie trzydziestokilkuletnim, świetnie zapowiadającym się specjalistą neurochirurgiem. Oprócz sukcesów na gruncie zawodowym i naukowym, był także szczęśliwym małżonkiem chcącym powiększyć rodzinę oraz kochającym życie wielbicielem poezji.

Jednak pewnego dnia, wraz ze zdiagnozowanym u Paula IV stadium raka płuc życie Kalanithich zmienia się diametralnie. Wszystkie dotychczas poczynione przez nich plany i zamierzenia, które poczynili u progu rzec można rozpoczynającego się życia muszą zostać przewartościowane.

Paul z pozycji lekarza nieoczekiwanie staje się pacjentem, który musi zmierzyć się z własną chorobą, skutkami różnorodnych terapii oraz niepewnością jutra.

Wraz ze swoją żoną musi on także rozważyć czy w zaistniałej sytuacji powinni starać się o upragnione dziecko.

„Jeszcze jeden oddech” nie jest jedynie świadectwem walki z chorobą, autor poświecił w niej sporo miejsca swojej drodze zawodowej, jaką przemierzył. Jednakże według mnie jest to przede wszystkim hołd dla życia, więzów rodzinnych i przyjacielskich oraz wszelakim egzystencjalnym pasjom, jakie może mieć człowiek.

Mimo, że Paul Kalanithi odszedł w marcu 2015 roku, pozostawił po sobie nie tylko córeczkę (na której powołanie do życia On i Lucy mimo wszystko się zdecydowali) i tę niezwykle wzruszającą książkę, ale również trwały ślad w sercach i umysłach ludzi, którym było dane się z nim w jakikolwiek sposób zetknąć.

Publikacja ta z całą pewnością warta jest poświęconego jej czasu i uwagi. Niemniej jednak pomimo tego, iż historia Paula niewątpliwie należy do tych, których właściwie nie powinno się oceniać to dla mnie niezależnie od całego ładunku emocjonalnego, jaki książka ta ze sobą niesie czegoś w niej zabrakło. Chociaż wzruszyła i dała do myślenia to jakoś wewnętrznie mnie nie porwała.

Jednak, jeśli szukacie wartościowej lektury to „Jeszcze jeden oddech” na pewno należy do tej właśnie kategorii i z pewnością będzie dobrym wyborem.

* https://www.facebook.com/Ksiazkowoczyta *


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