I usually stay away from memoirs about cancer.
My husband is a walking, talking memoir of cancer survival…
And whenever I volunteer for cancer fundraising events, I hear so many inspiring and heart-breaking stories about cancer.
I’m not exactly seeking out to read yet another cancer story.
However, I picked up When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi after hearing so many positive reviews.
What makes this story so different?
Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015. He was aged 36. He was a brilliant neurosurgeon, and outstanding researcher. He was a lover of literature. He had a brilliant philosophical mind. He was a doctor, then he became a patient. He left behind a wife and baby daughter.
He wrote it at a very particular time of his life – near the end – while faced with death. So parts of it reads like a stream of consciousness.
It’s a bit intellectual. It’s a bit heavy.
It’s a very philosophical. It’s very sad. I cried.
I’m glad I read it.
However, strangely, I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone.
Those who are looking for a general “roll up your sleeves and get practical about living the best life you can” kind of inspiration, probably won’t find it here. This book is much more of a deep, introspective, pondering look into one man’s very particular life, with very particular views.
If anything, it’ll possibly help you feel and understand what it might be like to face death with a brave and courageous heart.
On another note, if you’re interested, you can take a peek at my Goodreads Reading List if you like.