When Breath Becomes Air

by Paul Kalanithi

Quick take

A brilliant, inspiring exploration of how to live a meaningful life in the face of death.


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 ...

Member thoughts

74% Love
23% Like
2% Dislike
  • Aimee S.

    Fairfax station , VA

    "So heartbraking in the best way possible. Passed on to my mom."

  • Yifei M.

    San Mateo, CA

    "This is the redemption of a life lived full. Tear jerker but a deeply uplifting, warming book."

  • Katee H.

    Roanoke, VA

    "Sad but touching. Wish the author was still alive to see how much his work meant to people."

  • Lillian F.

    New York, NY

    "It was so beautifully written. Even though, I knew he would die and remained hopeful throughout the book. I felt a loss."

  • Allie P.

    Philadelphia, PA

    "Beautiful, tragic."

  • Melanie A.

    Issaquah, WA

    "What can I say. It is a precious, heartbreaking gem. No doubt, I will reread it. Blessings and love to Paul's family. What a wonderful gift he left you and all of us."

  • Candace t.

    damascus, OR

    "I really can't recommend this book HIGHLY enough. It avoids being maudlin; there's beauty, grace, and wisdom within the pages. I Will gift this book often."

  • malory s.

    Grapevine, TX

    "Could not put it down. And not just a tear jerker but well written and thought peovoking"

  • Jeanne O.

    South Easton, MA

    "Incredible story, every medical profession should have to read this. "

  • Kristin M.

    New York, NY

    "WOW. This book will break your heart and fill it at the same time. I openly sobbed while reading it. Anyone who is looking for a new take on what it really means to live should read this book. "

  • hugh b.

    pittsfield, MA

    "This is a truly tragic story,,but what nobility!!!"