When Breathe Becomes Air


It was towards the end of the book that I realized that this is almost an unfinished manuscript. But still it feels complete in itself. I was constantly wondering throughout why this book is so short. He is an amazing writer and you know that when you hear his thoughts while reading the book - his narrative - his writing style just reveal his love for poetry, literature, philosophy and spirituality. It was striking that he had persistently wondered about death- the meaning of life- its purpose throughout his growing up years, even while choosing a career. And even after he was first diagnosed with lung cancer, he did the same. 


 "Literature not only illuminated another's experience, it provided, I believed, the richest material for moral reflection." - on the love for literature.

 

Paul draws the difference between a job and a calling, something you are meant to do for the world in the limited span of your mortal life, in the first few chapters as a Doctor, before his diagnosis. And his words are all so quote-worthy. Brilliant writer, has a way with words. Makes the message reach the reader in full force or subtly when needed. He shares several anecdotes from medical school, his years as a resident, the intriguing neurosurgeries he had performed. His initial tryst with neuroscience-writing signals into the brain. The journey from doctor to patient so suddenly was tough. But being a doctor helped him accept the situation quite early. 


Truly speaking, I kind of felt connected. He had completed his Bachelor's in English Literature and Human Biology. Kind of a choice I could dream during my high school days. He took up medicine and specialized in neurosurgery, going all the way up to opting neuroscience research as well, understanding that this was indeed his calling. 


"I couldn't quite let go of the question: where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?" - on meaning of life and death.

 

The love for literature and the written word had taken a back seat for those grueling residency years, which he took up vehemently in the final year of his life. He was one of the brightest minds in neuroscience and neurosurgery, and had a rather short life. He passed away at the age of 37. 


 "If the unexamined life was not worth living, was the unlived life worth examining?" - on the mortality of existence.

 

The most touching and tear jerker chapter was the epilogue by his wife Lucy, as she describes his passing and bravery he showed in the face of death, by just accepting it and continuing to live wholeheartedly. The written word is powerful. It can live beyond us. It can be our legacy. The foreword is amazing too- its so inspirational. This book is an experience. 


I'm taking my blog to the next level with Blogchatter's My Friend Alexa.



View this post on Instagram

"Literature not only illuminated another's experience, it provided, I believed, the richest material for moral reflection." - Paul on his love for literature. The book up for discussion this month at the book club @nikitasbookshelf is this hopeful, inspiring, realistic memoir by a neurosurgeon and neuroscientist who finds his days are numbered after being diagnosed with lung cancer. This is an amazing narrative that blends his love for literature, neuroscience, his profession as a doctor, his moral philosophy, and spiritual pursuits together. It is a short but intense read. It charts his journey through his own words from being a doctor to being a patient. And how he finds meaning and purpose after being a patient, when he lets go of his life long dream of research in neuroscience. He returns to do his job, as a neurosurgeon, fighting the physical pains, since he believes that is his calling. How many of us do something because it's what we are meant to do in the short span of our mortal existence? All we do is perhaps, a job. He returns to literature and writes this memoir in the last few months of his life, as a reminder of him for his newborn daughter, and fulfilling his own dream of being an author. This book is also a look at marriage and relationship when things fall apart. The epilogue by his wife Lucy is a tear jerker one, which she completes writing after his passing. She is one brave woman and a doctor herself. I have watched her TED talks and she is so accepting of the present and fulfills her role to promote the book, and her late husband's life's messages. Again, it's not a sob story. At the end of it, you'll be in awe of this person, who had he been alive, could have changed the landscape of neuroscience research for the world. #whenbreathebecomesair #paulkalinithi

A post shared by Magic Moments (@magicmoments_pratikshya) on




Comments

  1. Hi! Been a while since my last visit! Glad to see you're still doing book reviews~ And you're as good as always at it, too. Keep it up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I am. :) It's the one thing that doesn't change. At least through several recent years. Thanks for the visit. :)

      Delete
  2. I've been meaning to read this book since a long time but the emotional story has made me pull back. Guess I shouldn't anymore. You've shared beautiful quotes from the book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, as I said, It's not all sob story. It's mostly practical, philosophical, neurological adventures and literary insights .. but as life itself, sad part is just that, a part of it all..

      Delete
  3. This is a book that I've been scared to read... I worry about how strongly the words of this man would affect me and make me reevaluate my own journey... I know how weird that sounds but that's the truth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can understand that.. Especially if we share similar jobs or careers, we tend to reevaluate. .. You are such an inspiring person yourself , I am in awe of the posts 'Heroes of Kindness' - such commitment to that over all these years.. :) :) May you pick this book some day and enjoy.

      Delete
  4. I am going to get my hands on this soon now, especially after reading your post.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Your exploration of the book is commendable. Motivated the reader in me to get my hands on the book. On my TBR list 😊

    ReplyDelete
  6. Your writeup really motivates to pick up the book. Good emotional stories and books are rare to find. Thanks for writing this up. Keep the wonderful work going.

    #MyFriendAlexa #ContemplationOfaJoker #Jokerophilia

    ReplyDelete
  7. Glad to read this book review!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Its such a shame I have this book copy for so long but have been postponing reading this. I read rave reviews for this one and your review is brilliant!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you :D I know we all have book piles waiting to be read. I am guilty of that too. :P :P

      Delete
  9. How well you've reviewed the book. Very powerful.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Enjoyed reading your review. My daughter has been recommending the book for ages but could never bring myself to pick it up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a rather short read. You can finish it in a day, unless you are a slow reader like me.. :P

      Delete
  11. Such a in depth review. Will read it for sure

    Ruchi Chopra Nasa
    https://thevagabond.me

    ReplyDelete
  12. A great review. I particularly enjoyed the quotes. This is one of the most heartbreaking yet uplifting books I have read. A doctor dealing with his own mortality.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Beautiful review dear many people wear so many hats and all well and to write something like a spark of light during sad times.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I have to read this book.It sounds so inspiring.You reviewed it beautifully

    ReplyDelete
  15. I left this book half-way as I found it sad, but I am going to pick this one up again and read it! thanks for the reminder!

    ReplyDelete
  16. It's when life throws a curveball and the reality that our days will be numbered jostle us, do bare emotions surface. For a person who wore many hats, I am sure, the book highlights the author's perspective on life. I would like to read his inspiring memoir after this review.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I so much loved the review of the book. Thanks for sharing. The quotes are worth pondering.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I am yet to read this book. I am really scared of confronting the tragic turn in the book. That said, loved this review and those quotes are so powerful! Sure, need to pick up this one real soon!

    ReplyDelete
  19. This seems really great book !! Great review!!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

My Last Trip Before Lockdown

Image
When Covid19 had just put its foot in the country with only 3 cases in Kerala, we had our Ooty trip planned. All tickets and bookings were done since the new year. With just three days in hand, four of us travelled from Mumbai, Pune and Bhubaneswar, to Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru, to join a few others staying in the city. And the excitement to finally meet one another after 6 months of that trip to Pune, the Lohagard Trek- we were kids excitedly clicking selfies in our face masks, hurriedly putting a quick dab of sanitizer before hugging one another.


Next day early morning we were to start for Ooty. Sleepy heads, gulping a bowl each of muesli, we started onward journey to Bandipur National Park. Devouring uttapams, dosas and piping hot cups of coffee for breakfast at a restaurant by the highway, chit chats were full on, as was the music and dance in the 12-seater vehicle. Funny anecdotes had us laughing our hearts out, gossips were such a thrill and cooking recipe exch…

Popular posts from this blog

Empress Ki : A story of an epic scale

The One To Leave First

F.R.I.E.N.D.S

Burst That Ego If You Want Genuine Connections In Life

Latest Binge - Emily in Paris

The Baztan Trilogy