Book Club: When Breath Becomes Air By: Paul Kalanithi


I first came across Paul’s story after reading his New York Times piece. His story immediately touched me. In the NYT piece, he or the editor, I don’t remember who, mentioned that he was writing a book.

Fast forward to present; I was browsing the book section at the airport and came across Paul’s book. YES, I thought to myself! He made it and lived long enough and strong enough to write a book.

What I didn’t realize, was what an amazing piece of work this would be. You see, Paul had a love for literature and writing. He was a brilliant scientist with a quest for knowledge, and a deep curiosity for deeper meaning.

Disclaimer: I don’t want to give too much away so I will keep this to a brief summary. But what I would love to do is to turn this post into a series, a virtually book club if you will. To share the passages that struck myself. My hope it that others will feel compelled to read and share their thoughts below in the comments section.

First off, this is a very quick read. I read this in 2 sittings (each on a plane of course) – in between prepping for a meeting. That being said, there many references to classic literature and medical jargon that caused me to pause and re-read certain sections.

My favorite passages:

“You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving.” We are all benefiting from Paul’s life because of the perspective he has shared with us. My take away throughout reading this book was that I didn’t need to wait for something to happen to embody his spirit. This line was just one of many reminders.

“You have to figure out what’s most important to you.” Throughout the book, Paul is seeking deeper meaning to his existence and humanity. This made me pause and think, what is most important to me?

On page 199, Paul writes a message for his child. This is not, in my opinion one that is meant to be quoted, but instead read. I’d like to give this one a bit of time before writing my thoughts, so as to not spoil the moment for others.

“I will share your joy and sorrow / til’ we’ve seen this journey through.” This comes from the hymn the “The Servant Song”. I have saved this lyric in my notebook to be used again someday…for something special…

One thought on “Book Club: When Breath Becomes Air By: Paul Kalanithi

  1. miss you on the left coast, molly! glad your blog is back up. i read this last week and really enjoyed it. incredibly sad, especially the last part, but i’m so glad i read it and got to know paul. thanks for sharing – keep it up!


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