Sunday, April 2, 2017

When Breath Becomes Air: A Review

Author: Paul Kalanithi

Rating: 10/10

 This book has been on every bestseller list for about a year now and is highly praised. Naturally, I thought it would be another all-hype-no-substance read. I avoided it. Last Sunday, I chanced upon an article written by Dr. Kalanithi in the Stanford Medical review. His writing was poetic, elegant and encompassing. I decided to read the book and I'm happy to say I wasn't disappointed in the least.

Heartbreaking, eloquent, humbling and thought-provoking. This is the story of a man brimming with potential but running out of time. His search to understand life and it's meaning lead him to language, literature, and history, but it was in science that he found his calling. This is an account of his journey as it comes to its untimely end.

I could not put this book down despite being unwell. Verghese, who wrote the foreword, is absolutely correct when he says that this is prose poetry. The words are poetic, they reach your heart. I'm saddened by the loss of his family as he was someone you want to know and learn from.

Some of my favorite quotes:

“You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving.”

A Message from Paul to his daughter:

“That message is simple: When you come to one of the many moments in life when you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more, but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.”

Hence, this is a moving and humbling story of a man who has infinite potential and ability, but very limited time. I highly recommend this one. 

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