Podcast & Book Reviews

March 7, 2023

Book Review | When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

By Jared Tilley | Senior Investment Analyst at NAOS Asset Management

Book Review: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

This book will not be for all as it follows the journey of a medical student, who after studying for a decade to become a neurosurgeon, is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. 

Paul Kalanithi started his studies focusing on English literature and human biology however, his obsession with what makes human life meaningful, takes him on a journey into the mind and onto the front line of the operating room. 

While the brief stories of his patients are at times shocking, it’s his own struggles, as he becomes the patient, that are confronting although thought provoking. Kalanithi provides a first-hand experience of his body’s demise but still questions how to give life meaning. 

A few insightful quotes:

  • One of the early meanings of patient, after all, is “one who endures hardship without complaint”.
  • Graham Greene once said that life was lived in the first twenty years and the remainder was just reflection.  
  • I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything.

Link to Book

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