Summary of When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi | Includes Analysis
When Breath Becomes Air is a memoir about Paul Kalanithi's experiences as a doctor and as a terminally ill patient. The book discusses Kalanithi's lifelong fascination with questions of human biology, mortality, and meaning. It then examines how these questions are intensified by the author's own confrontation with lung cancer, sickness, and death.
Kalanithi's father was a doctor from New York City; his mother was from India. The family moved to Kingman, Arizona, so that his father could pursue his medical career when Paul was young. His father worked long hours and was rarely home, which convinced young Paul that the last thing he wanted to do was to become a doctor himself. Paul's mother was concerned about the weak school system in Kingman, and so crafted a lengthy list of literary classics which she made Paul and his brothers read. As a result, Paul became enthralled with literature. He planned to become a writer....
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