When Breath Becomes Air

by Paul Kalanithi.

It’s rare for me to find beautiful prose. I think it’s the type of book I usually read – mostly crime thrillers and biographies, sometimes children’s books, mostly adventure-based – which are story-driven and so it’s rare to have words that pirouette off the page.

I randomly came across an excerpt of When Breath Becomes Air in The New Yorker in the middle of the night a few nights ago. It was a breathtaking piece of writing. So much so that I went and bought it immediately, and read it on my Kindle. I finished it at 9am.

Not all of it was as good, some parts of it were better. I suppose that’s normal. The excerpt was actually from towards the end, which made me suddenly realise we were nearing the end of the book, which made me sad. The most surprising part I think, was the epilogue. It was incredibly well-written, and I totally hadn’t expected that. I hadn’t expected both husband and wife (both full-time medics) to be such good writers…

But anyway. It’s a beautiful book about a talented man who had spent his life training as a neurosurgeon, and then just as he was about to take on the world, was forced to face his own mortality. An incredible read.


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