When Breath Becomes Air

When Breath Becomes Air


I find that since I am no longer working in a library, I don’t seem to read as much. Being surrounded by stacks books all of the time must have compelled me to pick them up and read them.

Recently, though I did manage to put a hold on a very popular memoir titled When Breath Becomes Air.

I am not sure why I have switched from fiction to non-fiction and particularly memoir- style books. Lucky for me there seems to be a plethora of titles to choose from in this genre that I can’t get enough of.

And it doesn’t seem to matter what the subject matter is, if it is well written, I can’t put it down.

When Breath Becomes Air is the true story of a young surgeon’s account of learning that he has advanced stage IV lung cancer  (in his thirties!) and how he copes with the last short bit of his life. It takes the reader into the surgery room with him, giving an accurate account of the long grueling hours of being a neurosurgeon. It was his last wish to write a book and he managed to do so.  It was fascinating and funny, precise and sad.  This small book is packed with prose, I still can’t shake parts of it out of my mind- weeks later. For instance, Kalanithi states, after cutting up a cadaver, he later craves a burrito, because apparently, formaldehyde stimulates appetite. When Breath Becomes Air- I could say that title aloud forever, because it sounds like poetry to me.

Somehow if the story is true, I always find it fascinating. After reading Helen Macdonald’s,  H is for Hawk, I wanted to go out and begin to train a hawk. This was something that never crossed my mind before reading this memoir.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a hawk in the family to help hunt? I would be the wildcrafting (hunting) envy of all of my neighbours.

If you have any great suggestions for reading some good memoir, please let me know.




One thought on “When Breath Becomes Air

  1. That was interesting. A bit sad. I just read Fierce Kingdom by Gin PHILLIPS. Scared me. I’m loving the 7 day book shelf. I’ve been thinking about coffee, and actually got back to the gym. I should be phoning you then. After the gym.


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