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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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Heart Touch

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

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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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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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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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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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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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Touching book , opening mind to true meaning of TIME

Amazing book which touched life and opened mind to true meaning of time. Everyone tries to avoid death , Paul showed how to face it.

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life changing opportunity

it gives a perspective to build purpose and meaning of life in whatever time allocated to us.

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The directness of lived experience

it is a narration if a neurosurgeon diagnosed with cancer. He succumbs to it yet his spirit,thoughts and experience comes out in the book. His wife's account in the end adds a brilliant aspect to the book. There is truth, pathos and a splendid sincerety all through.

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woow

no words..the tear drop which flew down my cheeks were in sheer admiration...Thank you for publishing this...

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  • Vivian
  • 09-27-16

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 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-02-16

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 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Angie
  • 03-25-16

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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  • Diana W.
  • 01-04-17

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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  • Janay Gibbons
  • 12-18-16

Life changing!

I recommend that every person experience the authenticity of Paul Kalanithi's words about life and death.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • luke
  • 08-17-16

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
  • 04-04-16

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
  • 05-07-16

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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  • Zaman
  • 01-10-17

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
  • 11-19-16

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

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  • Carol
  • 07-09-16

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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  • Gill Kolk
  • 05-06-16

A book to treasure

Beautifully written and narrated, its like Paul is there telling you his story himself. Very corageous.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-25-18

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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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 04-16-18

Simply inspiring

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

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-18-18

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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  • Emma Brockett
  • 02-22-18

Amazing story

This is an amazing story about and extraordinary person. I cannot remember how I learned about this book, I just remember thinking that Paul Kalanithi sounded like an interesting person. I thought for someone to have accomplished all that he had done within a very limited amount of time was amazing and this was before I listened to the book! Paul also injects his story with funny and introspective thoughts. He quotes his dad, 'It is very easy to be number one. Find the guy who is number one and score one point higher than he does', unquote. Another comment made which I was impressed by was, 'if the unexamined life was not worth living, was the unlived life worth examining'? The narrator achieves the deliverance of this humor and made me laugh out loud. As someone who has Epilepsy, he touches on the subject, which I didn't expect, which made me enjoy the book more. One thing I did before reading the book is look Paul up on YouTube, that helped me put a face to the story. For those who are familiar with cancer, he uses the correct terminology but those of us who are not, he explains what he's talking about. We are not left thinking, 'what the....'? A strongly recommended read.

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  • Sharon
  • 02-22-18

Highly recommend.

As a health professional, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Moving and meaningful. Beautifully written. A life changing experience.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-24-18

Amazing

AMAZING. Inspiring. Would definitely read again. Paul's strength and drive is something I hope to emulate.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 01-19-18

Heart breaking & heart warming at the same time

Wow, this is a book I will share with friend and family. It is heart warming and heart breaking all at the same time. An up close and personal account of a very special young man and his family as they process the reality of death well before its their time.

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  • Rebecca
  • 01-03-18

Raw and honest

Brilliantly written book. A reminder of how unpredictable and short life is. excellent narration too.