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When Breath Becomes Air

Length: 5 hrs and 35 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (638 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

The New York Times number-one best seller.

At the age of 36, on the verge of completing a decade's training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live.

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi's transformation from a medical student asking what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity - the brain - and finally into a patient and a new father.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when life is catastrophically interrupted? What does it mean to have a child as your own life fades away?

Paul Kalanithi died while working on this profoundly moving book, yet his words live on as a guide to us all. When Breath Becomes Air is a life-affirming reflection on facing our mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.

©2016 Paul Kalanithi (P)2016 Random House AudioBooks

Critic Reviews

"Finishing this book and then forgetting about it is simply not an option.... Unmissable." ( New York Times)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    4 out of 5 stars
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When breath becomes air

When I was looking for my next read I came upon It and I was captured from the first paragraph. What a wonderful man, I cried many times during the book. I lost my own father to cancer but was to young and immature to realise the significance of death....forever is a long long time. Thank you Paul

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Beautifully tragic story

What a sad story, but so inspiring as a medical student to hear.
Definitely recommend to all medical students.
The narrator’s voice is also excellent and at times very humorous in his delivery!

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Deeply moving book. Must read

Unique account of how to deal with mortality. A truly unremarkable human being who went too soon.

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Amazing

Simply amazing. Heavy with sadness but full of inspiration for what life is and can be.

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review

This is a deeply moving, intelligent and reflective book about life . Well worth reading

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one of the best book i would recommend.

fantastic book. Good narration. Show how we need to value our gifted life every moment.

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Great book

A very accurate depiction of the challenges in communication that individuals in the medical field face with their patients and familial relationships. Reflected so much of my own sentiments. Wanted there to be so much more time for more thoughts and insights. Great listen

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Breathtaking

A beautiful story that explores an incredibly intriguing and wise man who has to face a deep human fear - death. Thought provoking, and what many would call a "must read".

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Simply inspiring

Incredible story about a incredible, intelligent, insightful man. Beautifully written it is a must read.

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Deep and profounding

The is a book that you just can't put down or turn off. It makes you think.and rethink so much and about such a variety of topics. b
Beautifully written.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 20-08-2018

Thank you for this book.

Thank you Paul for writing this book. It feels extremely authentic and honest. I have come to love you and your family through this book. I admire you.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jay
  • 12-05-2016

Boring

I just don't get the rave reviews for this book. I found it so boring. Nothing insightful or particularly interesting (beyond the fact that he was dying). I love these kinds of books and am fascinated in how incidents such as facing your mortality can have people change the way they look at life or live their lives but this didn't offer any of that. Snooze...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-11-2018

awakening

it allows me to reflect on my life and what is most important in life.

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  • James
  • 15-06-2018

A must for anyone in healthcare

Truly a beautiful read and an inspiring man.
I believe should be required reading for any aspiring to join the healthcare field.
It is in essence an amazing and heart wrenching insight into what it can mean to practice medicine and an exploration understanding and coming to terms with death from multiple perspectives.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 23-05-2018

Heart Touch

I cried A lot
My friend suggested me to read this... Goodbwork by kalanithi... Luved it

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  • Gogulan
  • 27-04-2018

Simply amazing and life changing...

What made the experience of listening to When Breath Becomes Air the most enjoyable?

I have just started listening to great audio books from last month. This one may be my 3rd or 4th book which I have listened to. But I am so grateful to the GOD for giving me a chance to listen to this book. But I am still asking GOD why he did such thing to Paul. Life may be cruel at times. But it all depends on how you look at the life. Paul simply accepted what GOD has decided as the best thing for him with such calmness and authority even while facing DEATH (Humans worst fear). I ask GOD to give me that courage to face my own mortality.I do not know any other book which I listen to in future can inspire me like this. I may never ever find one which can inspire me like this in future. If ever I found one, then that must be another gem.When I am down and out in my life, I will always listen to this book to give me the inspiration, hope, courage and determination to carry on with my life. Thank you for creating such a gem of a book at the worst possible time of your life. Wishing all the very best to your loving wife Lucy and Little GOD given child Cady .... I know she will celebrate her 4th birth day on 4 July still not knowing that her beloved Daddy is no longer with her to celebrate her wonderful 4th birthday. But I am sure Paul will be looking from heaven and blessing you and Lucy...Thank You Paul for creating such a GEM of a book! Truly life changing for me. RIP Paul !

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  • xxxx
  • 13-02-2018

A great story

loved it!!!! It makes you laugh, makes you weep, also makes you realize how fortunate that we have the most precious thing in the universe...A life...

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-11-2017

transition is not smooth

interesting to hear his journey from doctor to pt. as well as the value of a holistic physician that is not rushed

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  • Ajey Gore
  • 03-11-2017

the reality of mortality described so beautifully.

this books puts Life and reality of love, life, family and people in a very different perspective. while Paul gone too early, all of us don't have a lot time as well, cherish what you have! loved it.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-11-2017

An incredible journey

This book has helped me have a guiding light to restore balance when I become to immersed in experiences or too lost in contemplation "if an unexamined life isn't worth living then is an unlived life worth examining".

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  • Angie
  • 25-03-2016

Deeply touching & a story of bravery

Initially when I chose this book on audio version, I didn't know what to expect.
This book took me through love, strength as a person, couple, family, integrity of the patient but also of Lucy who stood by him relentlessly through each day.
Rest in peace, people like you are rare.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Vivian
  • 27-09-2016

Lovely insight into a doctor becoming a patient

I think I cried through most of this book. It is very thought provoking as a doctor, as a surgeon, to rethink what makes me a doctor and what would I be if I am no longer a doctor.
It also describe from a doctor's point of view how it feels like to become a patient.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Nash Hon
  • 02-10-2016

Powerful book

Very rarely, a book comes along that makes you pause and think about what you're doing with your life and what you want to do with it.
This is one of them and it's one of the best. Painful yet absolutely inspiring.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Diana W.
  • 04-01-2017

An inspirational book

An account both deeply personal and universally resonant, of living life, and seeking meaning, in the face of death. The memoirs of a man dying at 35, Paul Kalanithi reflects on his early love of literature combined with his discovery of science, and his intuition that both are essential in understanding the meaning of human existence. Later training as a doctor and practice as a neurosurgeon drew him to engage deeply with questions of meaning in the lives, suffering and deaths of his patients and their families, until, with a diagnosis of terminal cancer, he was forced to confront these existential questions most powerfully, painfully and profoundly, in his own life. A moving and inspiring book. Very well narrated.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • luke
  • 17-08-2016

Brilliant, emotional, needed

This book is so well written. It has helped me in so many ways. Thank you

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jenny
  • 04-04-2016

One of the best books I have ever read

Such an insightful and heart rendering look at lung cancer. Enjoyed every minute of listening to the book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Dr. Siwan Thomas Gibson
  • 07-05-2016

Fear hope and love

Moving in 'real time' this book shares the intimacy of terminal illness without drama or pathos.
A superb account of a personal experience that captures fear, hope and love.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 28-07-2018

This guy was on a different wave length to me. Worth a read.

Author was a deep thinker. It was sad but interesting to hear his take on suffering & grief & loss. It was scary though to have revealed how little care he took of his body when he was younger. There was no credence given to a healthy, well balanced life style. That is something I see in so many left brain, Medico types. He & his oncologist & wife seemed to value toxic therapies whose side effects some of which ( not all) seemed worse than the progressing cancer”s effects. He seemed to value extension of life over quality; although he did make clear in the book that as long as he was not cognitively impaired & could be a deep thinker, that for him personally his life held meaning. It was for me like a clear dis-announcing of the body. No recognition of what a wise & profound thing nature had evolved in creating the body. No honouring of its basic needs. No credence given to its potential to self heal given an optimum,self healing environment, nourishment & rest. It was as if his body was his enemy to be fought against with science as his weapon. I did gain insights reading this personal story of tragedy, but not the ones I was expecting or hoping for. He sounded like a beautiful soul - but I feel somewhere in life he lost his sense of connectedness to the profundity of nature, to nurturing instead of battling. In his deep philosophising he never uttered recognition of nurturing himself versus pushing himself. He was a brave, noble warrior. Worth a read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Zaman
  • 10-01-2017

Great book

Great read about reflection
Especially Great insight for medics
I would highly recommend for all clinicians

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • C
  • 19-11-2016

My book of the year

I would recommend this book to anyone who is

A) thinking of joining the medical profession
B) currently deals with patients in any professional capacity.
C) is currently or has been a patient
This book truly is a gift and a reminder of our shared humanity. Thank you to Paul & his family for writing about and sharing their very personal experiences and to the buyers at Audible/ Amazon for making it available in this format. My life is the richer for it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful